Teaching Your Child Healthy Friendship Skills

Written by Guest Blogger: Lisa Montierth

Summer is just over the horizon!

It’s coming at us fast, and it’s bringing all sorts of wonderful things with it: long hours spent under the sun, barbecues, family vacations, and, of course, a break from all the routines of the school year. With all that free time sprawling ahead of you, you’re probably thinking about how to keep your kids happy and adequately occupied for three months.

Summer blows your child’s regular schedule wide open, paving the way for much more self-directed activity – time that is often spent with their friends. With so much more time for play dates and activities, this is the perfect time to talk to your kids about friendship skills.

Friendship is important at any age, and it can be especially critical for kids. Kids are still learning about social skills, and relationships will always have their ups and downs. The best thing to do is to stay calm and gently offer guidance when your kids need you. Here are some ways you can help your child be a better friend:

Encourage team building. Activities where kids can work together toward a common goal are great for developing friendships. Things like building forts, playing games with teams, and making an obstacle course encourage negotiation, communication, and problem solving.

Give positive feedback. If you see your children doing something pro-social, like sharing a treat or helping in a game, let them know how that action shows their friends that they care. Making note of these kind and thoughtful actions will help your child understand what sort of behavior makes a good friend.

Put the ball in their court. If your children come to you about a problem with a friend, take the opportunity to work through the situation with them instead of just trying to fix it. Ask them what happened, how they felt about it, and what they could try next. Ask how they tried to make the situation better, compliment them for trying, and let them know you support them. Don’t dwell on the situation. Just address it and then move on.

Role-play social skills. Have conversations with your child about how to handle important social interactions, like:
– Being a good listener
– Having a group discussion
– Following rules
– Asking questions
– Having a conversation
– Apologizing
– Being a good sport

Get to know the parents of your child’s friends. Especially if your kids are shy around new people, modeling friendship with the parents of your child’s friends is key. Connecting with other parents is also a great way to build community, and stay updated about what’s happening in other areas of your child’s life.

Friendships are important for kids, and learning how to be a good friend is a skill that will serve them through their lives. With a little guidance and support from you, your child can be a better friend – and your whole family will have a great summer!

Helping Your Child Develop a Love of Learning

Written by Guest Blogger: Lisa Montierth

A love of learning can make all the difference in your child’s life, and not just in school. Developing a passion to learn helps kids grow into curious, successful adults.

Being engaged at school is certainly a big step toward being an enthusiastic learner, but parents can build on these lessons exponentially by bringing learning into the home. Enthusiasm is contagious – when you get excited about something, your kids will pick up on it – so try some of these ways to get the whole family excited about learning:

Keep them reading. Reading acts as the foundation to every other kind of learning. Many parents read to their young kids, which is a great head start to understanding language and appreciating learning. As kids grow older, keep encouraging them to pick up a book. Start a family reading time where you each enjoy a book, or take turns reading from the same book. Kids pick up their cues from you. Keep books, magazines, newspapers, and other reading materials around the house, and you’ll teach an appreciation of reading by example.

Get on board with their interests. Use your child’s natural enthusiasm about things they love to promote learning. If your daughter loves the ocean, encourage her interest with books about marine life. By getting involved and showing interest in the things your child loves, you will show her that learning isn’t just about sitting in school and practicing her spelling; learning is a fun and exciting part of life!

The “what” can be more important than the “how”. It’s natural to pay attention to your child’s grades, and it’s important to let your child know that grades matter. But focusing too heavily on grades can overshadow the accomplishments of learning. Instead of asking about how your child did on a test or worksheet, ask them what they learned that day. By putting the day’s lessons into his own words, your child is more likely to retain what he learned.

Give them some space. As adults, we know how some of our best learning experiences come out of mistakes. And while it can be a scary thought, it’s important to remember that this lesson applies to our kids, too. When we swoop in to solve every tricky math equation or spelling worksheet for our children, they never get the chance to figure it out for themselves. Children gain a sense of competence when they overcome a challenge, which makes them more likely to want to do that activity again.

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