by Dyan Eybergen, RN
Parents who encourage and model positive opinions about education can teach kids to manage school stress and enjoy the experience.
As curriculum requirements continue to increase in all levels of education, students are experiencing considerable amounts of school stress. Most of this stress is caused by having too much homework. Some of it may be attributable to a lack of organizational skills or the cognitive maturity to learn new and difficult concepts, causing the student to feel overwhelmed. Some students may not feel supported by the teacher or their parents. They may feel inadequate socially or ashamed and can't ask for help.
Whatever the reasons, school stress can lead to a general feeling of apathy toward school and anything associated with it. When a student hates school enough to not want to go anymore, parents will have a real challenge encouraging that student to stick with it. Parents need to take on a proactive approach of instilling a positive attitude in their children about school, before it's too late.
Use Words That Project a Positive Attitude
Education is vital to the development of every child. Its importance cannot be underrated. When referring to school, its administration or teachers, use positive language. When parents show respect toward those in the teaching profession they teach about the value of educators to their children. Remembering to thank teachers for their contribution to a child's education demonstrates a positive attitude about school and learning. Even when parents disagree with a teacher or school administrator, they should always use positive and respectful communication techniques to facilitate cooperation and resolution to a problem.
Take an Active Interest in the School
Parents can take an active interest in their child's school by first developing a working relationship with the child's teacher. The child feels supported through such relationships, which helps manage school stress. If a child knows that there is a team approach to his/her learning curriculum, he/she will feel less overwhelmed about learning challenging concepts.
Parents can further participate in the school community by joining the PTA, volunteering in the classroom or library or by donating their time to fundraising campaigns.
Inform Children of Expectations
Younger children should be introduced to the school environment in a visual way. Making introductions with teachers and the classroom milieu prior to the commencement of school will give children a sense of familiarity when they do start. Older children need to understand what they can expect from school rules and class instruction. They need to understand how they will be graded and the degree of effort they need to put forth to succeed. Parents also need to communicate their expectations for each of their children and base those on each the child's unique capabilities. When students understand what is expected from them they are more able to concentrate their efforts toward a known goal.
Model the Importance of Homework and Homework Routines
Parents who support the classroom's learning environment at home help students learn and expand their knowledge. It's essential that homework routines be established so as to teach organization, time management and problem solving skills. Solid homework strategies will also help students manage school stress, especially for those who experience anxiety in response to having to write a test or complete an assignment. Homework routines combat test anxiety by giving students confidence in their knowledge of test material. If the stress of homework and writing tests is managed effectively, students are less apt to have bad feelings about school.
Children who are taught respect for education and are supported in their efforts to succeed feel better about their school experience than children who are left to struggle on their own without parental involvement. When children are exposed to positive language about school and education and see their parents take an active interest in their school community, they will learn to appreciate school by that example. It's not to say that they will never have times of disliking school when its demands feel too much, but they will continue to have enough respect for the value of education to not give up on it.
Dyan Eybergen, a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse, is a member of the Alberta Writer’s Guild and an award-winning author for her parenting book Out of the Mouths of Babes. Dyan is also a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of Alberta and a selected judge for the 2010 prestigious Mom's Choice Awards. Her credentials and recognized level of expertise in parenting education lends itself frequently to CTV SouthWestern Ontario's Health and Lifestyle and CTV Edmonton's News at Noon as a contributing parenting expert. Dyan lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and three sons.
Copyright © Dyan Eybergen. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.