Whether you’re a first-time parent or juggling the demands of several children in your life, you know how important it is to find the best ways to help kids learn what they need to be their best at home and at school. Sometimes what you need is a few tips from experts and other parents about how to approach issues and problems, or a place where your questions are answered. And sometimes all you need is a fresh idea for a new game that makes a task fun, whether that’s picking up toys or working on vocabulary and spelling. You’ll find all that and more at Monicka Gregory’s site, KidsGoals.com. Articles on parenting, suggestions for craft projects, and stories from other parents and caregivers are all designed to give you the information and the tools you need to support children and help them be their best. We asked Monicka Gregory about the site, and about some parenting “best practices” she’s discovered over the years.
UV: One of the categories on the site is “goal setting.” We’re used to seeing this as a strategy for success with adults, but not children. How do young children benefit from learning to set goals?
MG: I truly believe you can help guarantee your child’s future success by instilling success characteristics — namely goal setting, and self-confidence — into his daily life at as young an age as possible. This way he will learn to use them automatically throughout life. This will ultimately ensure his success in academic pursuits and later in whatever career or business he chooses.
The two characteristics which do ultimately affect our ability to succeed – in every sense of the word – are habitual goal setting and self-confidence so strong that it results in an absolute conviction that we will succeed.
Goal setting teaches a child how to be “success oriented” A success-oriented child is less likely to become involved in crime, or damage his body with drugs, because his self-esteem is healthy – he truly likes himself. A success-oriented child will also grow up respecting others and be a valued member of society.
Goal setting is not taught in most schools and according to statistics only 3% of the populations are systematic goal setters. The important fact is that these 3% are not just any old percentage of the population. The goal-setters amongst us are the elitist few who achieve spectacular successes – top Olympic athletes, self-made millionaires, great inventors and successful businesspersons.
Our ultimate goal as a parent or caregiver should be to instill in our children, the habit of setting goals — just as you teach them to brush their teeth!
UV: You say that “children learn in different ways, but every child learns better when they actually enjoy the process” – and we agree! What’s your favorite way of making study time fun for children?
MG: While studying is something most kids do not consider “fun” at the best of times, it can be made to be more enjoyable. When my son was younger we made studying into a game like Jeopardy. We would write out questions on index cards using coloured markers and then I would quiz him. We also made up silly songs which he really liked. To teach fractions we baked a cake.
I also made sure that he took regular study breaks, especially when he was younger. The break only needed to be a few minutes long – just long enough to give his brain a chance to absorb what it has just learned and get ready for more. It is a good idea to keep in mind that breaks should revitalize your child for his next study period, not sap his energy! Watching TV is an energy-sapping break and should be avoided. Good breaks might include: a light snack, a refreshing or soothing drink, or some breaths of fresh air.
UV: Your site encourages parents to be good role models for kids. If adults spend time reading books, does that inspire children to read more, too?
MG: I believe that children learn best by example and if they see their parents reading and enjoying books, they are more apt to want to read too.
I was read to as a child and have always enjoyed reading. When I became a parent I made it a nightly routine to read to my kids, who all developed my same love of reading. Growing up my kids would always see me with my nose in a book. My youngest son is sixteen and despite the lure of video games has become a voracious reader. His latest feat is reading “Game of Thrones” volumes 1-4!
UV: Helping children succeed at school takes time. How can parents best fit study and homework sessions with their kids into an already busy day?
MG: Study and homework must be a priority, but rather than having them work on their homework or studying at random times of the day, try to find a routine that works best for you and your child. Some kids, just like adults, are at their best in the morning, and for these kids, getting up a bit earlier and having a regular homework time in the morning before school can work well.
Many kids will find an afternoon or evening homework routine more comfortable, and in this case it’s important to make sure that they have an opportunity to have a bit of a rest before starting their homework, especially if they have been doing physical activity at school. If on the other hand they tend to be full of pent-up energy after school, then some physical exercise would be just the thing they need to wind down from school before they tackle their studies. In this case an early evening session might work best. In either case, a healthy, light snack is a good idea and the energy from food will help fuel your kids for their brain-work.
UV: If you had one piece of advice for new parents, what would it be?
MG: Follow your heart and trust your instincts. Parenting is all about trial and error and there is NO way to ever be perfect at it – so stop trying! Take a deep breath, learn to relax and just enjoy your kids.