Togetherness Brings a Lifetime of Rewards
It is widely known that children who spend meaningful family time with their parents do better and behave better in school than children who don’t. The holidays present quintessential moments to share time together as a family, no matter the size or shape of your family structure. We have outlined some meaningful moments you can create with your child that both strengthen family bonds and provide a solid learning platform upon which to build good study habits that bring stronger academic results.
Experience the power of reading together by exploring a good book with your child, one that will enhance your child’s vocabulary and instill a passion for reading. Parents of younger children can pick up a few short stories and read a few each night. For those parents with older students, you can pick a book you both enjoy and schedule time to share and compare thoughts after finishing each chapter. Young minds are eager to learn new things, and books provide an exciting format in which to do so. Making reading an essential part of your family time will strengthen your child’s excitement and thirst for knowledge, while at the same time provide lasting memories. If you’ve gotten out of the habit of reading daily, the holidays are a perfect time to start back into the routine.
Make Mealtime Meaningful
Family meals provide parents with much more than a break from the day, but a chance to chat with the ones they love the most – their children. Sharing meals, no matter how simple or lavish, gives children an opportunity to share what has been on their minds. Developing a family routine such as a family dinner is a good way to teach polite conversation skills and share meaningful moments. Think of this time as a chance for everyone to be heard without the distraction of cell phones or the television. It takes practice to learn to listen to what someone is saying, and then comment or ask a question about the topic. The dinner ritual will begin to teach the critical social skills that are needed throughout life.
Casual dinner conversations also allow children to discuss thoughts and feelings in a comfortable setting that might not otherwise come up in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day activities. To help foster the tradition of sharing, begin meal times by inviting everyone to share one achievement and one obstacle during the meal. When children have a consistent and safe place to share experiences, they will begin to open up more candidly in casual conversations. This will strengthen communication with your child and give him or her a greater sense of belonging while giving you a chance to help your child course-correct challenges and recognize achievements.
Opening the Lines of Communication
Establishing an open communication rule between you and your child is a great way to lay a foundation of trust, which will keep you up-to-speed on the latest and greatest highlights and hurdles of school. Make it a point to share with your children something meaningful or thought-provoking each day, no matter how trivial it may seem. Consider sharing stories of communication problems with your boss, or share how much you enjoyed your neighbor helping you shovel the driveway, or a current news topic. Children are very in tune with the behavior of parents, and your ability to share will inspire them to come to you with things they might not generally feel welcome to discuss. Pretty soon, you will be having lively discussions about school, current events, schoolwork or even friends. These discussions will give you more insight into your child. Everything from what he or she is learning in school to what he or she thinks about a local news event to who his or her closest friends are and why will be revealed, giving you the chance to understand your child’s thinking. There is nothing better than really getting to know your child. Open communication establishes a level of intimacy with your child that becomes a valuable lifelong tool to keep you connected and in tune with your child’s feelings and thoughts as well as how their ideas about life are forming.
Setting aside daily dedicated playtimes with your child is just as important as the time you spend studying together. Even half-hour a day can give everyone a chance to unwind from the “to-do’s” of the day. Playtime can be anything from jump-rope, tag, hide-and-seek, playing catch, kite flying or a rousing dance party to your child’s favorite songs. The important thing is that your child feels you are focused on him or her even when it’s not about schoolwork or chores. In addition to having and getting exercise, playtime teaches children cooperation, rules, physical skills and sportsmanlike conduct as well as how to find pleasure in play.
A little break never hurt anyone, even parents, and the old-fashioned form of playing together is healthy. We’re not saying no to electronics; we know some of the interactive video games can get your heart beating, but playtime can be a chance to pass on traditions or share a little history about how you used to play as a child. Do you remember the games your parents shared with you that they played as a child? Classic games like kickball and baseball bring out the child in everyone. Just make sure to schedule these breaks in between routine study commitments so that your child’s other obligations don’t fall out of focus.
Children need their parents’ love and attention to succeed. There is no better way to ensure your child’s success than to become a part of the process yourself. Becoming involved and actively participating in your child’s life in and out of the classroom will prove to be an investment you won’t forget and one you will value for years to come. The holidays are a perfect time to recommit and begin new traditions for sharing time together with your child.