A New Year’s Resolution For Our Children
How can we teach our children to have balance?
Each year, I spend over 2000 hours working with educators and families applying a whole child philosophy to providing school support. In layman’s terms, that means I educate kids while also promoting the growth of their whole self. A child who is learning math, for instance, needs to have enough sleep, proper meals, study skills, social time, and exercise in order to achieve his best. Balance of life is a key cornerstone to the work I do.
When I speak with parents about their goals, often they wish for their children to achieve greatness in academics. They love to get report cards with As and glowing comments of praise from their children’s teachers. I think this is a fine goal, so long as the child is thriving all around while earning As.
How can you ensure your child has the balance needed to have a productive education experience?
This January, take inventory of how your child is doing in each of the following areas. Notice if there is one area which is more pronounced or attended to than others. Create a few goals based on your inventory. Do you notice your child acing every math test, but only making Bs in writing? Do you notice your child spending most of his or her free time at home studying or on social media? Might you want to balance out that free time to include face-to-face social time and/or physical activity?
Here’s your inventory list. Simply note how your child is doing in each area. Ask others who know your child to tell you their opinions and/or interview your child. Take an online inventory to assess a child’s social, emotional, physical development.
Organizing (both content and belongings)
Completion of assigned tasks (on time and complete)
Discipline for completing assignments which are not favorites
Using feedback for further improvement
Participating in class
Connecting with teachers for extra help
Learning in class
Strong morning and evening routines
Time management for completing work at home
Time and a place to study and read
Computer access and appropriate access to devices
Strong home/school connection and parent knowledge about what is going on in school
Children should be developing:
- an understanding of group dynamics and one’s role in a group
- listening and conversational skills
- social awareness, meaning mindfulness of their environment and other people’s feelings
Children should be able to:
- appropriately deal with conflicts that arise with peers
- learn from negative experiences and what makes peers unhappy
- know how to speak to peers about academic work and experiences
Children should be able to:
- regulate emotions
- remain calm and steady upon taking an exam
- feel pleased because others understand them
- express themselves and their emotions
- consider the emotions of others
- work toward improvement and goals
Children should have:
- a healthy and nutritional diet
- 9–11 hours of sleep (for ages 6–13 years) or 8–10 hours of sleep (for ages 14–18 years)
- moderate to vigorous exercise for 1 hour per day
- more time spent reading than watching TV, on social media or playing video games
- healthy and consistent personal hygiene
- strong bodily kinesthetic and motor skills
- a solid understanding of what their body needs (i.e., sleep, feeling hungry, rest when sick, physiological effects of stress)
- relaxation techniques
- stamina for completing longer tasks
- knowledge about physical health and/or puberty and how to effectively manage and care for these changes
Once you have an inventory of how your whole child is doing in each of the above areas, create 1–3 goals to truly work on in the months to come. The key is to not overload expectations or rush to develop everything at the same time. An example of a goal might be to create a bedtime routine and a morning routine to improve sleep or limit screen time to one or two hours a week. In a mindful way, create a focused plan to help your child to achieve balance where it is needed most. Partner with your support network — caretakers, educators and medical professionals to help you. Balancing the support you give your child is also paramount.
When we develop the whole child, excellence will follow, and this is the most important goal for 2017!