Fall is here, quickly turning into winter, and at my house, we are ready to celebrate with all the good things in the final months of the year, including changing leaves, holidays, and a school year in full swing. As a mom and a Together Counts™ Ambassador, I worked hard to make sure my family had a lot of fun playing together all summer long and staying active to work on our energy balance. But now, I’m not ashamed to say I’m enjoying a return to the school schedule and to watching my kids shine at school. My husband and I love celebrating the kids’ school achievements as a family. Here are some tips for making school achievement celebrations fun for the whole family and motivating for the future.
Show up for the big event as a family
Will your child’s success be celebrated at an assembly at school? Move heaven and earth to get there. Missing work or toting your toddler to a ceremony may be inconvenient, but it will make a lasting impression on your little achiever. Unfortunately, my husband had no choice but to be out of town for work when our son was receiving a medal at the end of the last school year (we didn’t know until the day before that he had won). I was surprised when the principal called me onstage to give my son the medal, and I had to bring my two-year-old with me. It absolutely delighted my older son to have his baby brother help present his medal and it made a special memory for all of us. While we were all sorry my husband couldn’t be there, the day was saved by brotherly love.
Even if only one child has a special achievement to celebrate, it’s best to include the whole family in the hoopla. Taking the whole gang to a celebratory dinner at their favorite restaurant or family playdate is a great way to motivate the other kids in the family to earn an outing of their own! It’s also a great way to show your kids how the hard work of one family benefits the whole. That’s a lesson that your kids will carry with them into adulthood.
Praise effort over intellect
My husband and I, like most parents, are overwhelmed with pride when our kids reach a goal in school, and it’s easy to want to go over-the-top with praise. But there is one thing we do to keep that in check and keep our kids’ attitudes realistic: we praise hard work over ability. Saying “We are so proud of you! You worked SO HARD to get good grades this quarter!” sends a much better message to our kiddos than simply saying, “We’re so proud of you for being so smart.” Most of us can’t get by in life on just our intelligence – hard work is a key factor in lifelong success.
Keep rewards reasonable
I do enjoy rewarding my kids when they have put in the hard work to make the grade or demonstrated the character to win a citizenship award at school. But one way we keep them grounded even in times of great celebration is to keep rewards reasonable. My son loves video games, but for an academic achievement, I’m more inclined to reward him with something that engages his brain, like a new LEGO™ set or puzzles. Likewise, my first-grade daughter, who loves to read, is more likely to get a new book as a reward over a new doll or accessory. She’s just as thrilled with the book, and it keeps her brain working towards future achievements.
Those are a few ways we enjoy celebrating school achievements together as a family. I’m looking forward to lots of great times commemorating my hard-working kids this school year.
How do you like to celebrate your kids’ achievements as a family?
Jenny Rapson is a writer and social media project manager who lives in southwest Ohio with her husband of thirteen years and their three great kiddos. When she’s not cutting up grapes for her toddler or serving as referee for her school-agers, she co-authors the funniest parenting and lifestyle blog ever (written by first cousins, that is) over at Mommin’ It Up with her cousin Emily Berry.
For more ideas to celebrate family achievements, check out these Together Counts’ resources: