Cleaning Makes the Grade
Small efforts at home can make a big impact on children's success at school
Parents send their children to school with the hope that the knowledge they are acquiring in the classroom will set them up for future success. However, mom and dad may not recognize that routine activities they do at home also are helping kids make the grade.
A recent study of nearly 5,000 high school students, conducted by Dr. Alan Hirsh and the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, found top performing students (those with grade averages of A and B) overwhelmingly-84 percent-used words like "lemony, minty or clean" to describe the smell of their childhood homes. More than one-third (34 percent) of lower performing students (average of C or below) associated negative smells-of urine, fecal matter or mold-with their homes.
While the study focused on scent, Dr. Hirsch said it’s unlikely there is something within those specific odors that causes academic success. Dr. Hirsh said a more likely explanation is that there is a positive connection between a well-cared-for home and the sort of stable family environment that promotes academic success.
"The good news for moms – and their kids – is that the hard work they put into everyday chores like scrubbing floors and washing windows results in more than just a home that looks, feels and smells clean," said Jennifer James, founder of The Mom Bloggers Club. "It’s not about a clean house – it is about the powerful difference parents can make in the lives of their children."
James shares a few of her favorite ideas on how to turn routine tasks into springboards for success:
* Be a cheerleader: Give your kids a "hooray" for all the hard work they are doing on their homework and chores. Remember to focus on the effort, not the achievement, to make them excited about facing future challenges. Celebrate their work in big and small ways – from buying a special treat after a big test to giving daily reminders that you love them.
* Read to succeed: Let children pick out their own books and help them develop a life-long love of reading. They’ll appreciate the freedom of choice, and reading engages the imagination and boosts memory. Reading is such a critical habit to develop that the makers of Pine-Sol brand cleaners have teamed up with Reading is Fundamental to ensure all kids are enjoying the benefits. You can participate by "Liking" the Pine-Sol Facebook page. For every two "Likes," the brand will donate a book to RIF up to 5,000 books.
* Make meals matter: Sit down for dinner together. Studies show that if children experience regular meals with family, they are more likely to stay away from drugs and do better in school.
* Encourage playtime: Your family’s favorite card and board games are great opportunities to practice basic skills like spelling and counting. Make them a regular activity and watch your children improve their game while enjoying the education.