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Setting healthy expectations for children can set them up for success.

Setting healthy expectations for children can set them up for success.

Parental expectations can have a strong effect on kids’ motivation and self- expectations. While healthy and realistic expectations can encourage kids’ success, unrealistically high expectations can set children up for failure. Such unrealistic expectations can also lead to anxiety and discouragement when a child cannot live up to her parents’ goals. Likewise, low expectations can make it difficult for kids to see and achieve their full potential.

Perpetuating Family Patterns

Unrealistic parental expectations often stem from parents’ own upbringings. Mimi Hudson, M.A., R.C.C. of North Shore Family Services, explains that parents often try to compensate for their own unmet childhood needs by setting expectations for their children, based on their own experiences rather than on their child’s needs. For example, parents who were disappointed with their own academic performance might emphasize high academic achievement in their own children. Overall, parents must be aware of their children’s unique needs and strengths, as well as to exercise self-awareness when establishing expectations.

Self-Concept

Parents’ expectations for their children can affect the way that kids perceive their own abilities and potential. For instance, if parents have different expectations for how girls and boys behave, children will often internalize these behavioral expectations. While these parental beliefs can be positive in some cases, they also have the potential to negatively influence a child’s perception of herself, particularly if the parents’ wishes are not congruent with the child’s.

Self-Discipline

Parental expectations are a cornerstone of discipline in kids. When paired with loving, supportive attitudes, setting clear behavioral and academic expectations for children can help them learn manners, social skills, study skills and other tools they will need to succeed in school and in society. However, for expectations to lead to positive behaviors, parental rules and ideas about proper behavior must be age-appropriate and consider the child’s maturity level and skills. If rules are expectations far exceed a child’s abilities, this may create anxiety or insubordinate behaviors. Thus, parents should consider each child’s unique skills and limitations when establishing expectations.

Academic Success

Parental expectations can have a strong, positive effect on children’s academic success. In a study conducted published by the Harvard Family Research project, Professor William H. Jeynes of California State University at Long Beach found that parental expectations affected children’s academic outcomes more than other types of parental involvement, including attendance of school events and clear rules. Thus, establishing healthy academic expectations and communicating these expectations to kids can be an important key to fostering success in school.

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bad corner

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naughtykitty

Boy sticking out his tongue at the camera. Photograph: Inspirestock Inc./Alamy
Behaviour in the first few weeks of school can fix a child’s reputation among teachers, parents and classmates for years, according to research out today. A five-year-old labelled “naughty” after a handful of incidents could find it hard to be seen as “good”, no matter how they tried.

Inability to sit still, disrupting queues or failing to comply with requests, could result in a poor reputation, and teachers sometimes made assumptions based on a child’s family background, said the researchers.

“Reputations can start to solidify within the first term,” said Maggie MacLure, professor of education at Manchester Metropolitan University and co-author of the study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. “Teachers will have decided in a broad way what kind of child this is. Is it a good child? Things that contribute to reputation are often very public. A lot of what happens is in whole class settings – so if children are disciplined others see it happen.”

The result, said MacLure, was that other children and their parents started to view the pupils in a similar way. She said teachers were well-intentioned but “the views form quickly in quite a nebulous way. If children go on to another class, their reputation could transfer with them just because one teacher writes a little note saying ‘This child has difficulty concentrating’ or ‘This child won’t sit still’.”

Siobhan Freegard, founder of the website Netmums, knows of many children who struggled to shake their reputation. “One little boy in my older son’s class found it really hard to sit still and control himself. Then, when they were 10, somebody snapped someone else’s pencil and all the children said he did it. Soon all the parents were talking about it, but it turned out he wasn’t even in the class at the time.” Another boy had earned the label of class clown and still could not shake it at 13.

Freegard said it was particularly tough for “summer babies” born in July and August. They can be a full year younger than others in class and significantly less mature, so are more likely to act up in the first term and earn a poor reputation.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the transition from home to school could be very difficult, and he had also seen pupils develop reputations. “It does happen. Someone is talking in assembly and you immediately look for Sean because it is usually him.” But forging a strong link with a child’s parents could turn pupils from being seen as “troublemakers to being contributors to the class”.

The study finds that adults have a notion of what a “proper” child should be, but learning to behave in a way appropriate for a classroom was tough for four- and five-year-olds. “Being good is not a simple matter,” it concludes. “Children need interpretative skills to decode and comply with requirements such as ‘sitting nicely’. They must be able to compete for teachers’ attention and approval according to the rules and handle disappointment when they do not win… They must learn to perform the emotions and moral qualities valued in the reception class, and accept that other, less ‘appropriate’, emotions may not be equally recognised.”

Some found it more difficult than others to be a “proper” child, and there was little tolerance for varying behaviour, partly because of the pressure to ensure pupils performed academically.

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readtogether

Many very bright children find learning to read English very hard. That can be surprising until you understand what’s going on. The truth is that their intelligence often leads them down the wrong path when they first try to read. As the text gets harder they will find progress more and more difficult. So they end up on a reading plateau, with lots of wild guessing and a collapsing self-confidence. If you guide them back onto the right path, they will usually progress fast.

There are actually multiple possible reasons for reading difficulty, but what I have described above is the most common. We call it Optilexia.

The key to getting progress with reading for a child is to understand what is causing the difficulty. That might be Optilexia or eye-tracking difficulty or Irlen Syndrome or one of the other 7 causes of difficulty we see the patterns of routinely with the children we help.

Once you understand a child’s reading difficulty, guiding the child to success usually becomes fairly easy.

So, at the heart of the Easyread System is a process of trying to understand the patterns shown by each child. We then make sure we apply the right help to get the child reading confidently. It normally takes around 6-9 months to achieve that.

It can be quite complex, but we have had years of experience helping thousands of children, so there are not many things left we have not seen! And if we don’t succeed we do not charge for our help.

Learning to read is probably the most critical educational step in every child’s life. So we focus hard on doing everything we can to make it go the right way. English is a very tricky language to learn to read, so just going with your intuition on how to help does not always work out well. One in five English-speaking children cannot read by the age of 11.

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:kid’s today They really are growing up fast: 

  • Calls for initiatives to ensure that children’s outdoor play and connection to nature are encouraged
  • All forms of marketing directed at children up to at least age seven ‘should be banned’

 

Children are growing up too quickly because of modern life. Picture posed by modelsChildren are growing up too quickly because of modern life. Picture posed by models

Children are growing up too quickly because of a combination of early testing in school, advertising, bad childcare and a reliance on computer games and television, experts warned today.

A group of 200 teachers, academics, authors, charity leaders and other experts have written a letter calling for a drive to ‘interrupt the erosion of childhood’.

The group includes novelist Philip Pullman, Oxford University neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, and Lord Layard, emeritus professor of economics at the London School of Economics.

They write: ‘Our children are subjected to increasing commercial pressures, they begin formal education earlier than the European norm, and they spend ever more time indoors with screen-based technology, rather than in outdoor activity.

‘The time has come to move from awareness to action.’

The letter outlines a four-point programme to restore proper values to childhood.

It says: ‘We call on all organisations and individuals concerned about the erosion of childhood to come together to achieve the following: public information campaigns about children’s developmental needs, what constitutes “quality childcare”, and the dangers of a consumerist screen-based life-style; the establishment of a genuinely play-based curriculum in nurseries and primary schools up to the age of six, free from the downward pressure of formal learning, tests and targets.’

It also called for initiatives to ensure that children’s outdoor play and connection to nature are encouraged and the banning of all forms of marketing directed at children up to at least age seven.


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