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Setting a Good Example

Mother helping a child on a laptop

Guest post from Graham Coath

In this second article on home study I want to focus on us as parents and the example we are setting our children.

As you know I am all too happy to confess that I am by no means a model parent. I don't actually know whether one of those actually exists but you would be forgiven for thinking so when you read some of the things people post on social media.

My main downfall when it comes to setting a good example for my children when it comes to studying is that I am naturally messy. This is something I have tried over the years to get better at but I am naturally a messy git! However, for the benefit of my children, I grudgingly, against all human nature take it upon myself to tidy up my workspace once a week. I have even been known to get out the cleaning spray every full moon.

Why is a tidy environment important. Well, as I often profess to clients whose workspaces I inspect, a messy desk can lead to you not working or in the children's cases studying effectively. If there is a lot of mess it can be very distracting and you can stop focussing on the task in hand. It can also have a real impact on your posture as you end up learning to use devices or twisting to avoid that mountain made of stuff.

So we have cleared our desk but how do we work?

Here are three things that we need to consider about the way we conduct ourselves that if we set a bad example we can't possibly expect our children to follow when they are studying. It goes without saying that probably the most important thing is we give our children some attention when they are studying at home so they at least know we care..but I won't cover that here or I'll end up writing a book!

  1. Be Organized - Now I am the first person to admit that, if you are not careful, staying organized can be difficult but if it doesn't come naturally to you then use some coping strategies. The first of these is PLAN! ... I know, I know sounds like school again...and it is why teachers always used to tell us time and again...because it is important! Make a plan of what you need to do for the day. Think about time management for each of the pieces of work / study that need to be done and plan in breaks as these are essential both for continued focus and for physical wellbeing. I tend to use an app to organize my tasks such as Ayoa. For your children's study use whatever works for them. If they have a phone then a task app can work really well but for younger learners why not use something like this multifunctional copy holder from Kensington which has a whiteboard which is also magnetic to write or put up a list on. It is so very visual.
  2. Stay Focused - You might be the kind of person who works well with loud music blaring out but I'm sorry to say your children will probably find it easier to stay focused if distractions are kept to a minimum. Besides when you have five children like me that becomes an awful din if you get five different soundtracks at once! I have found a quick sweep around the house to turn off, or at least turndown music, switch the TV off, put games machines into sleep mode and remove toys from eyesight really helps my children to stay focused when learning. Setting creative rewards for achieving good focus and maintaining concentration even when a subject is tough also works. By creative, I mean don't just buy sugar treats! More time with something they like such works and if you can build some form of reward chart with lego that's a real winner.
  3. Be a good example - When you were young if you saw your parents do something one way you would often copy it. Isn't that why many of us, despite our best efforts have mutated into a form of our parents! To this end, I believe it is important to show your children good practice when you work sitting at home and encourage them to follow your example. As you would expect from someone that conducts workplace assessments I don't sit hunched over my computer or with my body contorted into any number of uncomfortable positions. If you are using laptops in the house then use a laptop riser to raise the monitor level to a suitable height. Provide everyone with separate input devices and if surfaces aren't ideal use wrist wrests for comfort. If you can't afford an operator chair for everyone then look into using some seat and back cushions which can make a static chair far more comfortable. Your children are going to use computers, tablets, phones, games machines for far longer and at a far greater intensity than you ever did as a child so it is important to get them into good habits about how to avoid long term injury.