How to help your child through school
The teacher cannot do it by herself
There has been much blaming of teachers, something with which I cannot agree at all. The teacher has been asked, it seems, to take on the load of the child’s learning, all on her own. The logic totally fails one. The parent’s role is a vital one in the educational development of the child. Why then do we not hear a call reminding parents of their part in the child’s education; and worse, why are students not reminded they have a part to play in their own lives.
With all this teacher blaming it was rewarding to find that people still believe, rightly so, that the parent has a role to play in their child’s schooling. I found an article which said ‘ten ways to help your child succeed in school.’ I thought, while reading it, that it was a treasure house of good principles.
I have copied the whole article and will include my comments to expand on them.
- Teach them that learning is their ‘job.’
Parents often ask what they can do to get their child interested in a particular subject or task. Lesson No. 1 is the most important lesson a child can learn about school: No one cares whether or not a child is interested in something. Of course, children learn better when they find the subject matter interesting, but what children really need to learn is that they must also learn things that they don’t find particularly interesting. That’s the job children have.
My View: He is right and the young person needs to develop the habit of attending to her school work and to over time realize it is important for her life. She may play, watch TV, or some other leisure activity but her school work is her priority and in her young life she needs to learn this.
Failure to establish this will lead to many difficulties later in the child’s life. This can be done from early if time is dedicated to this regularly from the early years. The first thing which young parents can do is to begin reading to the very young child and getting this young being used to books and the pleasure it offers.
- Aim high.
You don’t have to be a Tiger mom, but you have to realize that parental expectations have a huge impact when it comes to student performance. If you don’t expect your child to do well, your expectations will likely be met.
My view: again he puts it succinctly and straight. Ask much of the child; check her work to see if the young person is doing well in school. In high school this means checking her essays and math among other things. But her grades must be checked often so you might be up on the child’s progress in school.
If for instance she begins to have problems with mathematics then it is time to speak with the teacher, quickly so the both of you might be on it. A tutor might be in order here since the teacher may not have enough time to attend to the child and bring her back; but act to keep the child afloat until the bad time is past.
When the child reaches high school if some foundation in studying has not been laid the problems can become tremendous. This is why it is best to instill habits from the earliest part of her school life. That way even if a part of high school becomes problematic habits can save the student.
- Distinguish studying from learning.
Very often a parent asks a child if the child has done his or her studying – and the child has. Not good enough! The parent needs to verify that the child has learned the lesson. Quiz the child to be sure (this gets more difficult as the child gets older and begins to take more advanced subjects). Quiz the child again on the same material a few days later, and then again a week later. What good is learning something that is forgotten a week later? Remember that employers later in life will care less about the diplomas your child has and will care more about the skills and knowledge he or she has acquired.
My comments: as I read this person’s ideas I had much praise for her. It would seem that the person has done this for it is practical. I had to learn some of it on my own as a young person since my parents were not academic and although they wished the best for me they did not know what to do when I entered high school.
The child has indeed to study the material but some form of quizzing and testing is what determines the extent to which the student understands the material. If it is mathematics there have to be questions done. Doing the questions solidify the ideas and give the student a repertoire of problem solving techniques.
Revision should from my perspective, be ongoing. Material given to the student through the year should not be allowed to go to sleep.
- Prioritize study time.
All children need down time, and playing both alone and with other children is good for both their intellectual and social skills. However, as a matter of priority, children should, within reason, be encouraged to work first and play second. Eventually a well-developed work ethic will result in a big pay-off. Children also should have regular study hours during which to complete their schoolwork. As the child gets older, this designated study time should get longer.
My comments: This also makes sense. There are some considerations to be kept in mind here though. Some children play in the evening after school and perhaps if they can play for a short time and then proceed to homework that might also work. Many games take place shortly after school and so the young person might wish to do that first then attend to homework.
There should be adequate time allotted to school work to allow for it to be done well and for the additional work that goes beyond teachers’ work.
- Provide a proper homework environment.
Be sure your child has all the tools needed to do his or her best – desk, a chair, good lighting, necessary school supplies (paper, pencils, pens, calculators, computers, rulers, compasses, protractors, paper clips, note pads, etc.) and, most important, a quiet place to work.
My comments: this just makes sense. The desk and chair are vital elements of the study room but the study environment should be quiet and without distracting influences. With time the student begins to take pride in her study environment.
My parents, while they were unable to offer much in the way of assistance with the actual work, provided a decent work place for me; one with few distractions.
- Let them figure things out on their own.
Have your children think about problems at length before asking you for help. Remember that every time you tell a student an answer to a question, you have deprived that student of the opportunity to figure out the answer on his or her own. At the same time, it is appropriate to help a student who has made a legitimate, but unsuccessful, effort to learn something without assistance.
My comments: for me this is a biggie and perhaps account for why I have praises for this gentleman. There is an approach which uses cooperative study and while it might have some value many students use it to avoid hard work and thinking. Some of them simply copy from another person. What this person is saying is that the student has to be given every chance to try to find solutions for herself or himself. Sure the answer at times may not be forthcoming but this is all of life. At times we may even wonder if there is a solution to the problem confronting us. With effort and perseverance we see something which leads to a solution. The mind is learning to search for answers.
Of course we step in when we feel they have really tried. Eventually the student learns to persevere.
- Teach proper reading comprehension skills.
So many children read something without remembering what they’ve read or understanding what it means. To aid in that gap to learning, children should know that when reading, they should not go to the next paragraph in their reading until they have understood what they have already read; if they do, they usually won’t understand the next paragraph, either. You should also teach children to take notes on what they read (or, better yet, to outline what they have read). Taking notes and writing outlines reinforces what the student has learned from reading and will allow the student to be better prepared for written examinations.
My comments: some of these ideas form part of study techniques. Taking notes for instance is recognized as a rather effective study technique. With enough practice this becomes a part of the student’s skill set.
- Have them go above and beyond.
Generally, the more students practice, the more thoroughly they learn and the more they retain. Students get more practice (and more learning) if they complete all the problems and exercises in their textbooks – not just the ones the teacher assigns. Parents who want to help their children succeed should encourage their kids to do more than the minimum.
My comments; this again is rather important. There are so many students who will say things like I am doing this just for the grade, not understanding that what they are doing is for themselves and their future. They do not realize that indeed the whole educational enterprise is for the next generation to assume its place. The teacher has already acquired something.
We ask them to sit down and study so they can be the best person they can be. When a teacher sets homework she is guided by what she can reasonably grade and so the work she sets is limited. The student who learns to go beyond is learning more than his other classmate and is learning something essential about life in general. This is the person who will be willing to stay behind when there is more work to do on the job, the one who will later know that achievement takes a little more effort and time than eight to five; the doctor who takes time to study the patient’s condition further, to make sure that everything is done right. All this is being laid in the young person who goes beyond what is asked.
- Make learning a four-season endeavor.
School is out in the summer, but that should not mean that children should take three months off from learning. Summer is a good time for reviewing, for learning things that may not have been taught in school (perhaps some of those chapters that were skipped in history class), for going to the library and browsing (always a good idea) and for trying to develop new intellectual skills, such as how to play games of strategy like chess, checkers or backgammon, or how to follow recipes carefully.
My comments; reading during the summer is a great way to stay in shape. Again I agree that summer should not be thrown away. Games can be thinking games. Of course there will be play during summer.
- Set a good example.
Let your child see that learning doesn’t end when we leave school. Model good learning behavior in the way you deal with your job and household responsibilities and let your children know that you are still learning. Parents who are still in school, perhaps pursuing a graduate degree or finally finishing up that bachelor’s, can be particularly influential. If you cut class, what do you think your children will do when given the opportunity? If you have bad study habits, you can’t expect your children to do better. Be sure that you show your child – through your own action – that good educational habits yield great academic rewards.
My comments: this makes sense. The parent should study not merely to be an example but to keep his own intellect and mind in order and growing. Of course if she or he does this the child will emulate him or her.
Let me further add. The suggestions above might not be easy, but for many people who use it, it works. Children in high school sometimes get thrown off their course by others and it may get difficult for parents. It is not always easy. At some point though the young person begins to take up his load and eases his parent of the supervision. At the end of the day you tried.
Here is the link to the original article: http://www.metroparent.com/daily/education/school-issues/ways-help-child-succeed-school-right-way/
Mark R Solomon is the original author.