Most of the interpersonal problems I have seen professionally and personally could have been avoided with good communication. This week we will focus on improving our parenting communication skills. Here’s how:
#1 Have the kids evaluate you
We are going to start with a task that most parents never do: ask their children to tell them how they’re doing. We may imagine that having our children evaluate us encourages them to be disrespectful. On the contrary, this kind of open communication promotes respect. Children who feel they have no voice in their relationship with you are most likely to rebel.
We may also fear hearing about our flaws. Yet, it’s better to be told now than to hear when our children are adults that they were unhappy with our parenting or teaching. With our humility comes the opportunity for God to change us and our families for the better.
I have created a form that your children can use to evaluate both parents. It may not be appropriate for younger students. Make sure your children know that you want their honest opinions and that you won’t be angry or sad if they give them.
Click to download or print the student evaluation form for homeschool parents/teachers.
#2 Have a parent-teacher conference
It seems like an oxymoron, but parent-teacher conferences are very important for married homeschooling families. We can be so busy that we don’t make time to discuss each of our children’s academic and personal progress as a couple. A child may continue to struggle unnecessarily because one parent isn’t aware of the need. When we don’t know what to do, our spouse may.
Schedule a time with your spouse for conferences (you may have to schedule one child at a time) and then complete these Homeschool Conference Evaluation Forms from FiveJs.com. The forms provide an opportunity for the primary teacher to evaluate students and for the students to evaluate themselves.
Using these forms and the parent evaluation forms, prayerfully discuss each child. Agree on when to meet with your child, what you want to praise each child for, and what you’d like the child to work on. Use this time to pray together about a personal goal in your parenting for the rest of the school year as well. Ask your spouse to help hold you accountable with regular progress updates.
#3 Have a conference with each child
When both parents meet with a child, he learns that he is valued. You could meet with him at home or take him somewhere special where you will have the opportunity to talk. Keep your conversation positive. Affirm your love for him and your confidence that he can keep growing. You may wish to present your child with a Scripture that you believe will help him understand your heart for him.
#4 Plan special time for each child
You don’t want to a conference to be the only special time you have with each child. Parents of many children will find daily time with individual kids a challenge. Doorposts sells a Family Time Circle that will help you remember who’s supposed to spend time with whom. Some families like to be less structured with individual time and choose to take the opportunities that present themselves (i.e., take one child to the grocery store, another on a different errand, and so on).
Come Together Kids shares a very clever idea for planning monthly special time. Although the idea is used as a valentine’s gift, these scratch-off cards would be well-received any time.
Which of these tasks do you think will give you more confidence as a parent?
Next week’s challenge is the Extended Family Challenge.
These are the previous weeks’ challenges: