by Lisa Reichelt, M.Ed., Parent Coach
I love this season for many reasons, but did you know that the holiday season can lead to school success? Yes, that’s right. I bet you never thought about school and the holidays except to look forward to the school break and no homework for a couple weeks. School success can be enhanced by the holiday practices that your family engages in during this special time of the year. Things like gift giving, special music, movies, elf on the shelf and other traditions all can be viewed with a new lens and help you to support your child becoming more successful in school. Let’s begin to investigate 3 ways the holiday season can lead to school success.
1. Holiday Music Feeds Our Soul
The music at this time of year is wonderful. It feeds our soul. Hearing the holiday songs elicits memories from our childhood and encourages us to pass on those happy memories. I’m so excited when my grandchildren love the same songs that I love. It is joyful! Music sets the tone for our homes, our stores, and our cars. It motivates us to keep preparing. It also teaches life lessons. Many of the holiday songs encourage us to love one another, to be kind and generous and to behave (Santa Claus Is Coming To Town).
But what does this have to do with school success? Have you ever thought about using music to help your child? When they are studying at home, music could improve the atmosphere. Using soothing music will help a child to be calm, using more upbeat music will motivate a child to persevere. Which kind of music might help your child? You can even use music to help get your child going in the morning. A friend of mine regularly blasted “The Sinking Of The Bismarck” by Johnny Horton as a wake-up tune for his children. I’m sure they sometimes loved it and sometimes hated it, but they always remember that he established this routine and supported them every day. Think of ways you could use music to support your child’s studies and school routine. You may be surprised.
2. The Joy of Gift Giving
We’ve all heard the saying “It’s better to give than to receive.” During this time of year that saying rings true for me. I love to sew and bake for my family and find great joy is their expression when they receive my homemade gifts. As an educator, I often saw the joy on my student’s faces when they would give a gift to me. Their joy was heart felt.
How can you use gift giving to support student success in school? The easy answer is to help them to practice gift giving when possible, but another answer is to foster a giving spirit in your child. Are there ways your child could help another student or a sibling with their school work? If so, they will experience the joy that comes with giving our ourselves. Perhaps your child could offer to read aloud to younger children or write kind notes and give them out anonymously.
These acts of giving will support your child’s social emotional growth. Research shows that social emotional strength is a key component in academic success. So even though it appears non-academic, fostering gift giving experiences for your child will support their school success. It will also help to build positive relationships with peers and with teachers. Do you recall your favorite teacher? Don’t you want your child to have that kind of teacher/student relationship? They can if they practice selfless gift giving.
3. Family Traditions Highlight Priorities
Family traditions abound during the holiday season and they highlight our priorities. Having a meal together, baking special cookies and breads, watching seasonal movies or reading a special book are all ways that families build stronger bonds during the holiday season. Our traditions strengthen our relationships and communicate the importance we place on family.
People rarely think about traditions along with school and school success, but I believe they exist and we should be mindful about creating more school traditions. Let me explain. Many families have a first day of school tradition. Their children rely on it to start the year. Some parents regularly send notes in their child’s lunch or come to school for lunch. I remember a classmate whose father paid her when she received good grades on her report card. That was a family tradition. Many families have a particular college that is their family’s school, that’s a tradition. Traditions can start any time, so you can start one now. How can you support your child in school with a family tradition? Here are some ideas:
- Tell stories of your own school success and how you felt.
- Share your daily high and low at dinner each day.
- Chose a day of the week when you will drive your child to school alone (it allows for good conversation).
- Start sending occasional notes in their lunch.
- Encourage them to exercise school spirit by participating in extra-curricular activities (identifying with your school strengthens your peer relationships and encourages better grades).
- Watch movies and read books that portray characters who were successful in school and life because of education (ex. The Blind Side, Dead Poets Society)
Your family’s traditions communicate what you value in life. If you value education you need to make sure your children know and embrace this value in their lives also.
The holiday season has so much to offer family life. Use the lessons of beautiful music, gift giving and family traditions as a way to improve your child’s success in school. These are easy ways to enhance your daily life and become an even better “champion” for your child.
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