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How To Help Your Child Succeed In School: Our Psychologist's Tips

How To Help Your Child Succeed In School: Our Psychologist's Tips

The start of a new school year is often a challenging and daunting event for both child and parent. Whether your child is starting junior or high school or progressing to a different grade, they will experience many changes that are not always easy to deal with. Besides facing academic challenges, your child will also experience physical and emotional changes as well as learning to make new friends, adjusting to a new teacher and coping with peer pressure. There are a number of ways that parents can help their children succeed and make the transition back to school smoother. Here is what our Clinical psychologist says:

1. Be aware of the different challenges children face at various stages of their school life

As a parent you should be aware that certain transition times pose specific challenges in your child’s life. Children at preschool and in the early years of junior school face different physical and emotional, social and academic challenges to those in Grades 5, 6 and 7. Depending on what type of problem crops up, always offer your child support and reassurance. The brand new school experience for children who are just starting school, a new school environment for those starting senior school – all these can pose challenges.

High school learners face an even bigger challenge because they now have to cope with increased pressure, balance their school work as well as social life and start to make decisions about what to do after matric.  Continue to keep communication channels open with your now growing teenager, as well as your younger child. Learn to listen instead of lecture and you will create a safe space for your child to share any concerns. Keeping communication channels open is one of the most important things you can do for your child of any age!
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2. Prepare your child for the new school experiences

Children starting a new school for the first time need to be emotionally prepared for what lies ahead. If your son or daughter is starting Grade 1, it is helpful to discuss the various changes that will occur before the time in order to prepare them for any adjustments that need to be made. Visit the school with your child before he starts going there to familiarise him with the surroundings.

Prepare for the new school routine by setting an earlier bedtime for your child as the holidays draw to a close. Children who are shy, anxious and more sensitive in nature will benefit from using a natural remedy such as K OK Kiddie Calmer to offer extra encouragement and support. K OK Kiddie Calmer is 100% homeopathic and helps to naturally calm and soothe away fears and worries in young children and is also very helpful for children with separation anxiety.

If your child is starting high school, he may also be anxious or apprehensive about the new adjustment. Once again, prepare him or her for any changes by discussing the highs and lows of high school life. Starting a new school and making new friends is difficult especially in the first few weeks when children start to settle in. Reassure your child constantly that it’s all part of the transition process and that they’ll fit in soon enough. A good dose of PureCalm which is a herbal remedy to relieve stress and anxiety will help your child to feel calm immediately.
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Parent participation in your child’s education is very important! Meet your child’s teacher and show that you are interested in helping him or her learn. Make sure that you inform the teacher of any learning disorders, personal and emotional issues or underlying conditions that your child may have – doing this will give the teacher a good indication how to deal with any problems that may occur.

Attend parent-teacher meetings so that you can learn how to help your child improve his school work and are also aware what goes on at the school (activities, fund raising). Studies show that children whose parents are actively involved in their school life and who communicate regularly with the teacher achieve better grades than those who don’t.

4. Encourage learning at home

It is important that you help your children to demonstrate a positive attitude towards education and learning. Show them the value that education brings into their lives and how it helps them to grow as individuals. Nowadays, our children don’t read enough! Encourage your child to read as this is a stepping stone to help them succeed at school. Start reading to them from a young age and let them also see you reading a book.

Allow your child to ask questions, solve problems and explore other interests such as various sports, arts and crafts etc. Keep them curious and expose them to different places and things. Monitor TV watching, video games and internet use so that your child does not spend too much time in front of a screen.

Exercise is also very important to encourage blood flow to the brain and a healthy body encourages a healthy mind. Younger children develop important skills by running and playing and being physically active and often have to go for Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy to correct problems caused by too much inactivity.  
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5. Monitor your child’s homework and assignments

Keep a close eye that your child’s homework gets done daily. You may need to check younger children’s message books or diaries for homework or projects that need to be completed. Don’t make the mistake of getting into habit of checking if they have homework all the time because they also need to learn to become responsible and take ownership for uncompleted work. Parents often make the mistake of doing their children’s assignments and projects – remember that your job is to guide them, not do the actual work! In some cases, parents may not always have the patience or time to help their child with homework or assignments. Enlist the help of a tutor – it may be pricey but would definitely benefit all concerned.

For children with learning disorders such as ADHD, ADD or dyslexia doing homework and projects, and generally coping at school can be particularly challenging. In most cases, the teacher will inform you that your child is battling in class, struggling to focus and concentrate or is disrupting the class by talking too much, fidgeting or being hyperactive. If your child is displaying symptoms of being unable to focus or concentrate in class, it’s always a good idea to have him or her assessed by an clinical or educational psychologist for a more accurate diagnosis.

Natural remedies in combination with a healthy diet, exercise and sleep have been shown to help children with ADHD and ADD, as well as those who have difficulty concentrating. In the Feelgood Health range, Focus Formula and BrightSpark are specially formulated to improve concentration, memory and the ability to focus attention while reducing hyperactivity and restlessness. Focus Formula is a herbal remedy which works to relieve the symptoms while also improving cerebral blood flow and helping the brain to heal itself. BrightSpark is a homeopathic remedy which works on the cause and can be a long term benefit, addressing problem behaviour and hyperactivity at the same time.
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6. Help your child to prepare for exams and tests

Teachers don’t often show children how to study and once again, here’s where your assistance is needed. Children in Grade 4 or 5 may think that re-reading a chapter of social studies is enough study preparation to do well. This is usually not the case because to pass an exam they would need to incorporate other study techniques – and, wouldn’t it be much better if they started at an early age?  You don’t have to become your child’s study buddy but you can share tips such as writing down key words, using flash cards or visual tricks to remember or getting a friend or family member to quiz them.

Teenagers who are studying large quantities of work may need extra support to concentrate and retain information. Our BrainShine natural remedy is an excellent study aid support which contains the herb, Gotu cola for mental alertness and focus while studying. Make sure that your teen eats healthily during exam time to optimise concentration levels so that they can ace the test. Lots of children may feel anxious before writing an exam – this is perfectly natural because even adults experience nervousness and anxiety before a test! 
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