Now that you know what the experts say works when preparing your children for school and a proper public education, here are three more important tips about how to raise your children to be successful students. I have gleaned these very simple and basic but most important principles of behavior from my 50 years of experience in the classroom as both a student and teacher.
So Please, Please, PLEASE teach your children these three most simple and most basic principles of behavior before you even think of sending them off to the public schools?
- Before you send your children to school teach them how to sit still.
Do whatever it takes because this is the most important skill in education. Seriously! If you can sit still, you can learn. If you can master the art of sitting still you can do almost anything and teachers, principals and guidance counselors will love you. If you can’t sit still, let’s face it, there isn’t much you can do or will be good for later in life except maybe night watchman at the chair factory. Nobody likes a kid who can’t sit still. Those children create chaos. They steal the show. They become the focus of all attention. They’re annoying. And if they’ve pooped their pants they stink up the joint. (You remember him don’t you?) Sit still and you control your environment. You blend in. Your demeanor says, “I’m here and I’m ready to learn!” You’re in the group and you only stink up a few desks nearby.
So practice with your children. Sit together. Go to places where sitting still is required. Sit at dinner. Sit in front of the TV. Stand on long lines together. Go to grandma’s house and make them sit there for a while. Then tell them that because they sat so well they can go out and play and skip grandma’s dry cheese sandwiches and tea. Ha! Now they’re practicing recess and gratitude! See how easy it is?
Say things to your children like, “Sit!” “Sit down young man!” “Did I say sit young lady?!” “Just sit there till your father gets home!” (Warning: only say this if you know that father is coming home) “Sit right there until we’re finished with desert.” “If you don’t sit still that man with the razor is likely to shave your head off with your hair too!” (This I remember from my very first haircut…and I sat very still.)
Be bold. Be imaginative. And practice with your children. Let them see that you have mastered this important skill by sitting with them from time to time. Show off by sitting with your husband through that entire ballgame or by sitting with your wife through that entire birthing process! Attention Parents! You can never start early enough! Now sit!
- Listen! Teach your children to listen! The ability to listen is the
second most important skill for a child to learn before attending school. Why not the first you ask? Because while listening is a higher order skill than sitting (just ask any dog) a child who sits but can’t listen is much better than a child who listens but cannot sit. (Think mine fields!) I’ll bet you can remember that classmate who sat in your class for 12 years and who graduated still dumb as a post. How did he do it? He could sit still! But, that classmate who could listen but not sit? I’ll bet you remember him and are thinking right now, whatever happened to that guy?… or where’d she go? They couldn’t sit still! So they went!
Anyway, back to listening: important skill #2. After all you don’t just want a graduate, you want a productive, intelligent member of society right? Not to mention someone with enough intelligence to be able to get out of your house! So teach them to listen! How? Talk to them! While they are sitting! Ask them questions then YOU listen for the answers. Ahh…setting an example. Teaching by doing. How simple! Did you know that the typical parent spends less than 15 minutes per day talking to his or her children? That’s 91 hours and 15 minutes per year or 456 hours and 15 minutes in the 5 years leading up to Kindergarten. That’s 19 days! (And 15 minutes!)
So, the average parents conceive and birth a child and then talk to their son or daughter for the equivalent of only 19 days out of their first 5 years of life before sending them off to school?!!? Thanks a lot mom and dad! Kids can’t learn to listen unless you talk to them and have conversations! So parents, start talking to your children! And listen to what they have to say!
3. Teach your children to be respectful. The ability to be respectful and the knowledge of what it means to be respectful is the third most important skill that your child must possess if he or she is going to be a successful learner. Why is this skill third? Because if they can already sit and listen then they are already being respectful. Now it is time to teach them to be aware of what showing respect to others actually means. The best way to do this is by you showing respect to your children and to your spouse and to your friends and to everyone, in front of your children…and your spouse and your friends and everyone.
Don’t just demand respect from your children. This never works because they don’t know what it is. They’re just kids. You must demonstrate this all important skill and practice it with them. Children need to be made aware and to understand that adults are not just big children. Children need to know that an adult is someone who they are expected to become and that childhood is just a short grace period that we have afforded to them on their way to a place where people sit still, listen and behave with respect towards others…just like you do. So remember parents: sit still, listen and be respectful. Teach your children to behave like adults and their teachers will teach them the rest.