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10 Ways To Make Your Child Outstanding In Class and Life

Funke Eweje

No parent wants a ninny for a child. As parents, we desire to have intelligent and gifted children who outdo our own achievement at each developmental milestone and make us proud and fulfilled parents in the future. Since no one has a more genuine interest in your child than you do, the onus of helping him maximize his potential lies on you. Find effective ways to achieve this and ensure your fondest wish comes to fruition.

1.  PUT THE BASICS IN PLACE
Does your child get enough sleep? Does he practise good hygiene? How accessible is he to regular medical care? Is your child growing in a violence ridden home that kills his zeal to focus in class? Is he getting the essential nutrients to stimulate brain function and growth? For instance, research shows that children who eat a healthy breakfast before going to school experience enhanced academic performance, concentration and cognitive functioning. Ensuring your child is healthy in all facets is the foundation to empowering him to succeed in whatever he does.

2.  SELF DISCOVERY
The fact that many of your child’s peers are diving into the sciences could make him decide it’s equally the best choice for him – if you’ve not imposed your choice already. From pre-teen, whether your child is exceptional or not, help him embark on a journey of self discovery. Ask about his dreams, does he have what it takes to achieve them? Find out what you can do to help him gradually develop. Does he need counselling to spur him into discovering areas he would be better off in? Pointing out his passion, strengths and weaknesses early enough ensures he’s better equipped to make an informed and healthy choice when the time comes.

3.  COMMUNICATIVE SKILLS
Apart from doing all you can to hone your child’s receptive skills (reading and listening), his expressive skills (speaking and writing) also need to be encouraged. Initiate the process by being a worthy example yourself. Ask open ended questions that will require your child to give you an explanation.

4. DON’T COMPARE
Quit the habit of comparing your child to other children or his siblings. Children develop at varying pace. While some children are early bloomers, some are late. Apart from the fact that this can make him develop a low self esteem, comparing a slow or reluctant learner to exceptional kids only makes him feel more like a failure and dims his chances of ever catching up.

5.  MONITOR HIS PROGRESS
It’s not enough that you hired seasoned tutors to help him with challenging subjects or that you always ensure he does his assignments or projects. How often do you check his notes and ask questions to evaluate what he has learnt? Do you pay consistent visits to his school to find out if paying for the extra lessons is paying off or if the assignments you slave yourself to make sure he does are submitted at the appropriate time? And those textbooks that cost a fortune,  do you care to find out if he’s actually reading them or they have long been misplaced or ‘dashed’ out to friends that appreciate their value better? Most parents wait till the term ends, when it’s too late to cry, to find out if their ward is doing well. Don’t leave all the monitoring to his teachers; they have their hands full already. Get more actively involved in your child’s school life.

6. QUIT THE SPOON-FEEDING
Do you often edit your child’s homework to the extent that you eliminate all his mistakes so he scores 100% every time without any tutoring? When he meets the same task in an exam, nothing will prevent his real ability from showing. Concealing his real ability does not afford him the chance to improve and as time goes on, he learns to dissociate hard work from success.

7. INCULCATE INDEPENDENCE
Don’t micromanage. Teach strategies for goal setting and resilience. Help him learn to manage his time and get organised. Show him how to make daily and weekly checklists of tasks to be accomplished and strike them out as they’re executed. Teach the ills of procrastination and how to break tasks down into manageable sections to ensure even when you’re not playing facilitator, he gets things properly done.

8.  TEACH PERSISTENCE
Don’t fuel mediocrity by telling your child, ‘You’re good at everything but French and Home Economics, which aren’t important anyway’ or ‘I know you don’t like Maths, I doubt you’ll need it as an Arts student’. Encourage gaining an average ability at least in all subjects by coupling believing in himself with persistent hard work.

9.  PRAISE AND ENCOURAGE
The words you use can either set your child up for failure or equip him to put more zeal into succeeding. I know after paying so much to enrol him in that international school, buying all textbooks and paying for the extra lessons, it’s heartbreaking to see red inks here and there at the end of the term but you’ll have to watch your words while you register your disappointment. Praise the slightest improvement, encourage more hard work. Don’t look at his result and you go, ‘It’s a miracle you passed Maths this time. Anyway, you had a mere 52%; nothing impressive. It’s a shame you’re not like me. I always had nothing less…’ Hurtful words and endless lectures serve no use in the long run.

10.  VOLUNTEERING
Encouraging your child’s participation in volunteer activities with community groups, religious organizations, student unions, NGOs and so on, is an effective way to hone his skills and improve competence while expanding his social circle and promoting his social awareness. It’s a constructive way for your child to gain salient job skills and experience while exploring potential career options.

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