Children these days are occupied with a veritable Himalaya of homework, assignments, and projects and on top of all of that, the stress to perform well in examinations. Though children spend a considerable amount of time in their schools, learning outside school hours is essential, which includes homework assignments and project work. This is because it’s a great way to ensure children revisit what they have learned, to practice and become better at their subjects and it is also a great way to practice retaining information in one’s memory. It all sounds hectic and painful, and besides, all that children want to do is to play.
So how do we get kids to be engaged and enthusiastic about after-school learning?
Here are 7 ideas that can help you with this!
IDEA #1: REMOVE RESTRICTIONS
Many parents, especially here in Asia, are paranoid about their children being “distracted” from studies when in actual fact, those “distractions” are necessary to keep children sane, to begin with. Parents try to inoculate their children from having too much fun, thinking that it might spoil their concentration. However, by continuously restricting them, children would feel that they are being immured into a dark corner. Children might even become rebellious enough to have their fun surreptitiously, do things in obscurity and they will blithely disregard instructions. This might snowball it into something unexpectedly big, like gaming addiction and inevitably, their behavior will become worse.
Parents have to understand that children’s study schedules are already stretched over so tautly that there is almost no breathing space, especially for those who have to sit for national exams at the end of the year. On your part, you have to keep things as flexible as possible for the child and ensure your children do not feel pressurized. That’s really the first step in helping them accept after-school learning.
IDEA #2: DON’T COMPARE YOUR CHILD WITH OTHERS
The most foolish thing one could do is to associate competition with education. Many parents think that they are doing their child a favor by comparing their children with other kids with regards to academic achievements, or any other aspect for that matter. All that this does is to promote hatred, breed low self-esteem and children will end up being haunted by the specter of their own insecurities. Though parents have the best intentions at heart, they mostly end up hurting their children, inadvertently.
As a parent, you should never put your child against other children, because it creates unhealthy feelings like jealousy and hatred, and at the end of the day, children end up envisioning education like a battlefield. The true value of education and the importance of it is all gone on that case. By teaching your children that one should only concentrate on self-improvement and that nothing is the be-all and end-all, children would have a positive outlook on learning. This helps them gravitate towards accepting after-school learning.
IDEA #3: WORK HARD, PLAY HARDER
Children are naïve and gaiety by nature, and what they consider to be the best part of their childhood is playing games with others. Sports is an excellent way to teach children the importance of discipline, hard work, concentration, sportsmanship and about the paramount importance of being a team player. All of these qualities enhance a child’s personality by many folds and this will be reflective of their attitude towards studies.
Playing sports releases endorphins (the feel-good hormone), reduces stress and anxiety, builds children’s stamina and increases their alertness. This is hence an excellent way for children to be attentive and stay focused during study sessions they will not get fussy about it.
IDEA #4: BE THEIR PAL
Children absolutely despise it if their parents are being militant about every small, trivial matter and it gets on their nerves especially when instructions sound more like commands. Children’s response will be the best when parent’s words are filled with love (though parents have to be aware the children are astute little creatures that can take advantage of kindness). Apart from being the person who sets the traditional rules (on how to behave, how to speak to elders etc.), as a parent, you have to reassure your children that you are always there for them in their journey, be it in academics or whatsoever. Couch your words such that it expresses support and love, and this adds further impetus to children’s desire to perform well in everything that they do, including academics.
Parents just can’t see the woods for the trees sometimes when they are too involved in tracking their children’s test and exam scores, making sure that they consistently perform with excellence. Being too caught up as such, they blind to the fact that studying well is not about being the first in ranking for all tests and exams. We need to move the needle on the perspective of education and its purpose: it’s is all about widening one’s horizon of knowledge, utilizing knowledge effectively and most importantly understanding the fact that there is always more to learn; there is no end to it. This is the way to ensure the young against the vicissitudes of modern life.
IDEA #5: KEEP THEM ON THEIR TOES
Children and adults inhabit a disparate world of thoughts. Children have a very little attention span and they require constant stimulation to keep them occupied and to kill the boredom or restlessness. You cannot engage in a disquisition about a subject topic with a child because more often than not, they will not have the patience and listen to you or even bother to respond. In order to keep after-school learning engaging for your kids, when you are tutoring them, do not restrict it to mere lecture sessions. Keep it interesting by including hands-on activities and content-related games which make sure education and entertain coalesce into one (it’s a complete package!). It is not rocket science and so there is no need to fret; just search Google.
IDEA #6: REWARD YOUR CHILDREN
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” has been the traditional ‘good-parenting’ dictum that Asian parents have stood by but this is changing, unfortunately. Though we can be happy about the fact that parents are becoming less unnecessarily-stringent, we cannot blow the bugle yet; there is still a long way to go. To progress in that right direction, rewarding your children is a great first step.
Let’s dive into what we mean by “reward your children”.
Firstly, there is a thin line between bribing your children vis-a-vis giving them small little surprises or gifts once in a while to motivate them. You have to keep in mind that you are not training a puppy; it’s your child. The most difficult part of this (also the most crucial) is to make your children understand why you are rewarding them. It is absolutely essential to ensure that they comprehend this system. Communicate to them that they should work hard to excel in their academics for themselves and not for the reward. Do not dangle a carrot in front of them for everything either, otherwise, children get into a vicious cycle of expecting rewards for everything they do.
IDEA #7: A GOOD TUTOR
The tuition industry is booming in today’s day and age in many countries and, the exact reason why it is as such, is because of the plethora of benefits a good private tutor can give to his or her student. No matter how obstreperous a child is, a good kids tutor will be able to control the child and bring out the best in him or her. Good private tutors would have seen many students, would have lots of tutoring experiences, they are never judgmental and they have no predilections. They understand that all roads lead to Rome and hence they will never force their ways or ideas or instructions onto students; they will guide and enable the student to construct the path for him or herself. The sheer radiance, energy, and enthusiasm that a good tutor brings with himself or herself during lesson will be the sole motivation for children to accept and embrace after-school learning.
IN A NUTSHELL, children may feel that the purpose of education is unfathomable and they might find it pressurizing if the environment is not conducive. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to provide the best for your child to make his or her educational journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible!