One of the most challenging skills to develop as a parent is the ability to measure a child’s growth in a personalized but accurate manner. Not only is it tempting to compare our child’s academic and social success to the published “norm” according to the school system, but it is also easy to fall prey to the myriad of alternative development theories that define our culture. These theories may or may not provide an accurate meter for determining whether or not your child is developing at a healthy rate.
Developing a Context for Growth
Regardless of what method you follow, it is important to remember your child is not a dot on a chart or a statistic in a mass of tests. Your child’s development, whether it be motor skills, math skills or interpersonal communication abilities, can only be measured in the context of what is realistic and achievable for your child. As the parent, it is your job to help determine what those attainable growth goals are, and to help your child achieve them by recognizing his or her success and acknowledging it with meaningful student awards.
Once you fully understand your child’s growth goals and status, you can begin the exciting journey of watching your child progress. A crucial element of the continued success of this process is your ability as a parent to provide your child with the encouragement and reinforcement that he or she is on the right path and should keep up the good work. Rather than resorting to the stereotypical (and sometimes destructive) reward methods of money, junk food, or video games, you can find creative ways to reward your child that also contribute to his or her continued success. Here are some ideas for celebrating your child’s achievements that are more meaningful than stereotypical awards for students:
- Organize a scavenger hunt, complete with both prizes and clues that require some brain power.
- Cook a healthy meal for your family and make it well known that the dinner is a celebration of success.
- Encourage sharing by rewarding your child with multiple items (stickers, pencils, etc.) that he or she can distribute to friends. Or, help your child make a treat to pass out.
Finally, once you have a system in place that works for you and your family, it is important to sustain that progress by continuously monitoring this personalized growth spectrum and adjusting it as necessary based on both your observations and feedback from trusted educators. Most importantly, continue to demonstrate your role as your child’s biggest fan as you celebrate achievements together through your creative student awards.
Jillian Johnson is a professional marketing content writer who blogs on a variety of topics. Follow her @MissWritey.