Family Resolutions

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, most people – myself included – focus on eating healthier, losing weight or exercising more. This year, I’m making resolutions that I can keep. Goals that will positively affect my kids and add more balance to our family life – a life that weighed in too heavy on gadgets and screens this year. Here are my top three resolutions:

Read more with my kids.

There is no better way to help kids succeed in school and life than to support their reading. Contrary to what most parents believe, reading to your children benefits kids at any age, even teens. The latest testing across the world shows that math scores are up while reading scores are either flat or in decline.

Some suggest this is due to kids dodging books for computer games. While improved math scores is a good thing, modeling for our kids and making time to read with them every day will improve their reading.

The proof is in a study conducted in England called Every Child a Reader. In this research, 5,000 kids who were struggling readers (60% boys, 40% girls) were given one to one reading time every day for 30 minutes for 12 to 20 weeks. At the end of the five months, the reading levels of those 5,000 kids improved from 1.5 to 2 grade levels. And there was another bonus: the children’s writing improved dramatically.

Play more board games. 

Games are a great way for kids to learn important skills, particularly when they don’t involve a screen that directs kids on what to do. Since they’re usually played with at least one other person, family games serve as good practice for  kids on how to read instructions, follow the rules, take turns, wait their turn, focus and think about their next move – basic skills of thinking, analyzing, collaborating. So important for kids to be successful in school and life.

Some of our family favorites that help with math: Blokus, Rush Hour, Monopoly and Life. Most of these come in junior versions too, for kids under 8 or 9. Games we love that reinforce verbal skills and literacy: Zip-It, Scrabble, Boggle and Apples to Apples. Other great games that involve movement: Twister, Map Tangle (touch the country instead of the shape), Pictionary – or it’s newest version: Luck of the Draw and of course chirades. For older kids: Balderdash, Master Mind, Chess and good old fashion card games.

Praise effort over outcome.

The research is clear on this and it defiantly takes effort on the parent side to praise our kids’ effort consistently. But the more we do it – the more positive reinforcement we give to the effort our kids make – the harder they will try and the more likely they are to try again. Easier said than done, I know.

With each year that passes, we give our kids more responsibility around the house. From setting the table, to emptying the dishwasher, putting away laundry, doing their own laundry, vacuuming, dusting and cleaning out the car. Whatever it is, we need to remember to praise their efforts and overlook the less than perfect finish. Same with school work and homework. Here’s my post on why praising effort leads to better outcomes.

So that’s my list for this year. If you’re looking for a wider range of New Year’s resolutions that deal with parenting, check out the list for families with younger kids. Their list of ten resolutions includes one from The Parent Backpack on getting more involved in your kids’ education.

Happy New Year to all!  And thanks for supporting the first few launch months of More to come next year.


  1. Love these ideas and a great reminder on praising effort – thanks!

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