New School Year, New Habits For Your Child?
New textbooks? Check!
New stationeries? Check!
New school bag and shoes? Check!
How about new habits?
Habits are formed over time, and it’s always good to start with your child since young.
And with the start of the new year, this provides the best opportunity to set new routines and to cultivate long lasting habits that will reap benefits!
Read 5 Pages A Day
Reading is good. And parents always want their kids to pick up a book, but kids are always groaning when handed one.
We all know about the many benefits of reading. Increasing your child’s pocket of vocabulary, enhancing level of understanding to tackle comprehension (which will help with exams), reducing stress are just some of the benefits.
Make reading a habit by setting small achievable goals. For younger kids in the lower primary, start with one picture book (more pictures and less words) a day. For the older kids in upper primary and secondary school, it can be reading as few as 5 pages a day.
If the book is interesting enough, 5 pages a day could easily become 10 pages. And if this habit continues, your child would be reading 50 pages a week!
Bottom line – do away with unclear goals like one book a week, which your kid will most likely procrastinate and put it off until the end of the week, the next week, or the next etc… Instead, start with clear, defined goals that are easy to achieve!
If your child is busy with CCAs and tuition classes, then consider setting a time to read 3 times a week, each time 3-5 pages.
PRO TIP: Devote a timeslot each day to read, and make it a family activity! When your child sees that everyone in the family is reading, they will naturally follow your lead!
Check out GamiMBox, a reading box set for kids aged 6 to 9 years old
Keep A Journal – The Writing Habit
Writing should come naturally. And very likely, your child’s English or Chinese teacher might have already assigned journal writing as homework.
And the good news is – it’s possible to make journal writing a task that “sparks joy” if it becomes a weekly habit!
Get your child a nice notebook or diary with his/her favourite cartoon character, encourage them to start writing in a mix of English and Chinese (remember the writing task needs to spark joy!), and then slowly progress.
Here are some ideas to make journal writing joyful:
– Include drawings to illustrate the moment of discovery, on top of writing words
– Let loose your creativity juices to make use of craft materials like colour paper and glitter to decorate the pages
– Insert a printed photograph and have them spin a story out of it
Journal writing helps your child to be creative, and it is the most organic form of writing practice. Putting thoughts onto paper as they write requires structure, and over time helps in strengthening expression.
PRO TIP: Bring your child to choose their own diary and stationeries. Get them involved to feel inspired right from the start!
The 5 mins Conversation
Recall your last conversation with your child – does it always seem to revolve around school, homework, and exam grades?
When is the last time you tried to find out about your child’s BFFs? Or their opinion on what they see, or simply all the weird ideas they might have?
Children are gifted with imaginative minds, and often, they can run wild, with too many ideas to express! If they are not talking to you, they’re probably bored of the usual and mundane conversation is about – school.
Set aside 5 minutes a day, either before bedtime, or even during dinner. Remove all digital devices and just – talk, eye-to-eye. The best conversations should not sound like an interrogation – you get the idea. Allow them to ask you questions and try to give some wacky responses that crack them up – they’ll love you for it – trust us.
PRO TIP: Converse with your child, not speak to your child
Believe it or not, these three simple habits might look insignificant, but done consistently over time, your child becomes a naturally strong communicator.
Reading, writing, and speaking well means your child can handle schoolwork effortlessly.
Reading helps with comprehension (理解问答).
Writing a journal helps with composition (作文).
And conversing helps with oral exams (口试).
Reading 20 books a year might seemed like an enormous task to any child, but when you break it down into small milestones, it’s highly achievable!
And when these regular practices become a habit, deeply ingrained as a part of their life, they will fully reap the benefits as they grow up and they’ll have you to thank for starting their first step, right here, right now.