Give your child regular work responsibilities. Preschoolers can pick up toys and put dirty clothes in the hamper; primary age youngsters can set the table and empty the garbage; and teenagers can wash the dishes and start the laundry. What the chore is really doesn’t matter. Regular household responsibilities lead to a work ethic that is compatible with study habits and school routine.
Don’t give your child so many ‘freebies’. A third pair of basketball shoes is not a birthright. Giving youngsters so many ‘things’ is incompatible with developing an expectation that some ‘things’, including acquiring knowledge and learning, are difficult and require hard work.
Insist on seeing things through as a personal value. When children begin new projects (football, an instrument, a club) they should be made to complete them. If they join a team, they stay until the season is over. Many children develop habits of quitting when things become uninteresting or difficult. They need to learn that hard work is an inevitable part of almost any activity – including school.
Promote personal values over peer conformity. Not every person is going to the movies; not all 14-year-olds have an 11pm curfew; and not every 16-year-old is allowed to go to a club. There is nothing that squelches personal initiative more than an obsessive desire to be like everybody else. Saying ‘no’ will not harm your children and will reinforce parental values. Independent children are better able to focus on their school subjects rather than their hairstyles.
Make your child personally accountable for his or her behaviour. When things do not work out, we can blame the neighbourhood children, the teachers, the immigration officials, and we can blame the coaches. But it is obvious what children learn when blame is always placed on others. A personal sense of accountability impacts upon children’s learning in school; it enables them to have pride in their successes while also enabling them to acknowledge, and learn, from their failures.
Teach your child to care about others. Getting along and showing consideration for other people’s feelings is an important life skill. Problems can be solved better when everyone works together and agrees on a solution. Few people work in isolation. Success, in and out of school, often depends on co-operation.
What will help your child to become a successful university student? It all starts with the habits learned in primary and secondary school. Now is the time to make those new year resolutions that will aid in your children’s school success.
– Dale Ford
Dale Ford is one of two University Counsellors at British International School, Phuket. For more information, visit them at www.bisphuket.ac.th