This series of 10 articles on ‘How Children Learn Best’ is written by Canadian Citizen Pat Kozyra who has been teaching in the classroom for more than 50 years. In the series she will cover a range of topics likely to be of interest to both parents and teachers—topics include Children’s Learning Styles, Multiple Intelligences, the Importance of Music, the Importance of Play and other topics. During the series questions can be posed to Pat and she will choose one to answer each week.
Not all students have the good fortune to have two parents who take a profound interest in their child’s education on a daily basis. These parents show love, guidance, interest, positive support and have a real caring attitude towards all aspects of their child’s progress. All this should happen without the label of “Tiger Mom”, “Helicopter Parent” or “Overindulgent Parent”. The last thing a child needs is a parent hovering over every aspect of his or her school life and adding stress and pressure to the home life.
In my book, “Tips and Tidbits for Parents and Teachers”, celebrating 50 years in the classroom and sharing what I have learned, I include a short test parents can take to find out if they truly are overindulgent parents. Most working mums pass this test with flying colours because they do not have the time to be around their child 24/7, so the child has to even share and participate in doing the household chores. Experts agree that children should have chores and responsibilities— feed the pet, make their own bed, tidy their bedroom, take their dirty dishes to the sink, set the table, walk the dog, organise their clean and dirty laundry, get their clothes and things ready for school the night before, help make their lunch or snack and handle routines without being told. Just look at the independence right there that parents are fostering in their child. This can only be positive. We have all read articles in the newspaper about boys having to quit university because they could not live without their helpers. They just could not cope on their own – as the saying goes, “can’t even boil water!”
Overindulgence can make parents become their child’s arms, ears and brains. Some experts say by overindulging, parents are “recreating the womb”. Overindulgent parents want to jump in and help at the slightest frustration and they forget all the positive spinoffs of a child experiencing a certain amount of frustration. Every time parents “help”, their child could feel more ‘helpless’ and that is when parents start hearing “I can’t do it!”, “I don’t want to try!” “Do it for me!” and “It’s too hard for me!” Children need to learn that “the highest fences we need to climb are those we’ve built with our minds!” If you think you can’t, you can’t. I firmly believe that. If you are told you are stupid, you can become stupid. I have personally seen that happen to a few people in my lifetime.
Overindulgent parents do their child’s school projects for them and the teacher always knows who they are. Believe me. It does not take rocket science to figure out. They do their child’s school assignments and the teacher gets a false sense of what the child can really do. They tell the child the homework answers before the child even has a chance to figure it out. They “baby” their child. They smother with praise that is often overdone and not always honest and genuine or given for real successes and accomplishments. Some recent research on the topic of praise said that too much praise, or the wrong kind of praise, or praise that is not deserved, can even be detrimental. The child can feel a false sense of accomplishment and may even become a very needy adult wanting praise constantly.
Ann Landers, a famous writer of advice columns for newspapers for many years once said, “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” Sometimes, as it is often said, “The best lessons we learn come from the biggest failures we have”. The famous singer Rhianna’s latest tattoo says “Never a failure—always a lesson.” Remember that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. In the chapter on Perfectionism in my book, there are two must-read writings. One is called “Don’t Be Afraid To Fail” and the other is called “Don’t Quit”. There is also a good book for parents called “‘Don’t Kiss Me at the Bus Stop!’: Over 700 Things Parents Do That Drive Their Kids Crazy”.
There is another test for parents in my book which the child gets to mark and it is called “How Well Do You Know Your Child? It’s a fun quiz by Judi Bailey. Some parents, at times, do not know as much as they think they do about their child so this quiz is a needed reminder for parents to listen more often to them, to ask about their opinions and feelings on a variety of topics, and to be more observant of their actions, habits and behavour. Communication is vital and parents must encourage their children to converse and share thoughts. This quiz asks things like: Who is your child’s best friend? What is your child’s favourite colour? Do you think you would pass? Try it!
Many working parents today struggle with the amount of time they can give their children because of work commitments, and they are forced to remember about the importance of quality time versus quantity time. Many parents work late in the evening so cannot be there for all homework sessions and must rely on capable helpers. It is so important that both parents are on the same page when interviewing a helper, and that they all know and understand what the expectations and the capabilities are of the helper. Parents must make sure the helpers can handle supervising homework or they are setting everyone up for frustration, arguments tension, stress and disappointments. This may also put into jeopardy the relationship of the helper with the child. Some children have parents who live and work in China and only visit their children on holidays. This is always a very difficult adjustment for all. Therefore, good, capable, reliable helpers are extremely important as they carry much of the burden of raising the children. On the other hand it is amazing to see how well children can adapt, and cope and how resilient they can be. What a heartwarming story it was of how the high school graduate attended his own graduation with no parents there—only the policeman who had had the sad task of announcing to him previously that his parents had both died in an accident—random acts of kindness can really make a difference.
Pat Kozyra is the author of “Tips and Tidbits For Parents and Teachers—celebrating 50 years in the classroom and sharing what I have learned”. It is available at Amazon.com books, Barnes and Noble.com, bumps to babes stores in Hong Kong, Swindon Books, Kelly and Walsh (Pacific Place) and Beachside Bookstore in Stanley. You are welcomed to ask advice on a teaching or parenting issue by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.