Okay, so first off, a disclaimer. We have two daughters, and we make frequent mistakes in parenting. We have always teased that we are saving for either a college fund, or a therapy fund, and make frequent references to the therapy fund as we trip our way through the delightful journey that is raising a family. But here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. First, and the best practice, no screen time during the school week. Zip. Zero. Nada. The families of students I’ve had who have been extremely consistent with this policy, have brilliant, self-motivated kids. Maybe self-motivated because they have to invent their own entertainment. Maybe brilliant because they kick around their own ideas and develop them instead of passively observing the ideas and lives of others that take up their own lifetime. Maybe it is just simple interaction with real people, or themselves.
There is cause and effect. Here is one of many American Academy of Pediatrics articles about screen time and children. There is no controversy here. Just like with global warming, there are scientists, and then there are people who want to sell you something, but if you really want the best for your child, (in both cases), listen to the science.
2. Time together. Your child is growing up, the cliché is based on reality. What seems like a long time is fleeting. Do things together to demonstrate your love. Material items can never be as valuable as time learning together, playing together, listening together, reading together, etcetera. Reading a series of books together out loud to each other is one of the best things we have done as a family. It creates discussion about real troubles, opens the door to deep questions and laughter, and creates a common experience to refer to. The time you spend together will build your relationship so you can ask real things of each other, and have meaningful conversations. The teen years are coming, consider it political capital to spend during that time.
3. Eat well, -no soda during the week. This is one I’ve had to work on(!). There has been many, many articles about soda depleting calcium, creating depression, obesity, and other issues in children, and adults. Preparing and eating food together is another common experience that builds families, and proper nutrition- building a body out of strong materials, will create a foundation that can stand up to the world when it is time.
4. Sleep well. Make it happen, because learning can’t happen for someone who is needing sleep.
5. Learn a musical instrument. Students who learn musical instruments do better at just about everything. Take private lessons if you can. Find free ways to learn music. In 4th grade Ms. Shelton over at Jefferson offers free orchestra classes and instruments to students after school. There are resources. You can do it!
6. Play a sport or do an activity after school that challenges you. This will help with focus, confidence, and will help to build that body into something even more awesome.
If you need help with something here, let me know. There are ways for the willing! Keep working to succeed, and it will happen!