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    “16 Ways to Help Your Child Do Well in School”

     

    Some children appear to be “natural students.” They learn quickly and their “photographic memories” recall almost everything they hear and see. They are amazing! Teachers love them! I don’t know about you, but I was not one of those students. Most “ordinary” children need external prodding to motivate their learning process. The U.S. Office of Education Research and Improvement says:

    Successful students behave in certain ways. They have the “right” attitude. They’re motivated, they pay attention, they’re relaxed, they ignore distractions that might interfere with learning. And, when they need help with school-work, they know how to get it.

    None of those things are inborn, but they can be learned. And you, as a parent, can help a child learn them.

    Here are several ways you can help your child do well in school:

    1. Take a personal interest. The only words many children hear from their parents are these, “How was school today?” and “Go do your homework!” Parents would do better to be more specific and ask, “Do you need my help in understanding your homework assignment?” “Do you have questions about your lessons at school?” Show a personal interest in the learning tasks facing your children.
    2. Don’t banish your child to his/her room to study. Working in the same room with you may be helpful. It depends on the nature of the assigned work. Be available for interaction with your child.
    3. Teach organizational skills. It is not a news flash to you that children generally are not organized. Doing things in an orderly fashion is a brand new idea to most children. Begin by training your child to be a list maker–listing things they need to do at home and at school. The list would include chores, papers to be written, projects, books to read, book reports and homework assignments. We know that list makers are usually more relaxed than non-list makers, because non-list makers must keep everything in their head.
    4. Start on the toughest subjects first. Human nature is such that a child is less likely to complete his work if the most difficult tasks are last.
    5. Use memory perks. For instance, the first letter of each of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior) spells HOMES. It is a matter of associating the unknown with the known. Teaching your child to use memory mechanisms can be helpful, and even fun. There are numerous forms of memory mechanisms.
    6. Look for the main ideas. As students listen to a teacher or read textbooks or other material, they should ask the question, “What is the main point being made here?”
    7. Read in small segments. Encourage your child to read short passages then stop and ask themselves questions about what’s just been read – questions such as, “In what ways were the Pilgrims different from people in the U.S. today?” Or, “Are astronauts more likely to find God in outer space than here on earth?” Formulating questions and reflecting on reading content facilitate true cognitive learning.
    8. Set goals and deadlines. Help your child identify reachable goals and set deadlines to reach them. Offer to play a game if a chapter is read and the study questions answered within a given period of time. Small rewards can be very stimulating for children.
    9. Monitor your child’s learning skills. Be sure your child has mastered one skill before moving on to the next. This is particularly important in reading and math. These fundamental skills are keys to success in all other areas of learning.
    10. Make your home a learning laboratory. Dan Kaercher wrote: “Make your kitchen a learning laboratory. Teach fractions to a young child with measuring spoons and cups, or cut a potato into halves, fourths and so on.”
    11. Take notes. Children cannot remember everything they hear or read. But notes taken with headings and subheadings are essential for later recall. Begin early to establish this pattern.
    12. Help your children prepare for tests. Ask your youngsters to write possible test questions as they read and study. Then read the questions to your child and ask them to confirm the right answers in the text.
    13. Help your children check their homework. Most children, and adults for that matter, don’t enjoy going back over a written assignment to check for grammatical or spelling errors, nor is it fun checking math problems for misplaced decimal points, but it must be done. A last minute check can make a major difference.
    14. Praise your children for their successes. Don’t belabor failures. Look for improvement in your child’s work Commend your child whenever possible. Let your children hear you share your approval of their good work as you talk with family and friends. This builds a valuable approval base which your child will want to live up to.
    15. Don’t pressure and push your children beyond their capabilities. Don’t threaten your children to do academic work which they simply cannot do. Don’t measure your child’s future worth on current academic prowess. Brilliance in school is not the sole criteria for a meaningful life. Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Winston Churchill were all low achievers in school. Yet, you will agree, they did quite well in their later years.
    16. Pray. Urge your child to hold prayer conversations with God about school work. Your child’s conversation with God might go like this, “Dear heavenly Father, with your help I know I can do this, but right now I am stuck. This is what I understand about the problem. This is what I don’t understand. Make clear to me what I must do to find the answer. Amen.”

    Children need the right amount of parental push. Dan Kaercher said, “It’s indisputable: A child’s success depends less on IQ than it does on what parents do at home to help youngsters achieve.”

    o

    Robert Kienel is executive director of the Association of Christian Schools.

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