What Can I Do to Help My Child at Home (Educator’s Point of View)?
The question, “What can I do to help my child improve?” is a common one I hear from parents across grade levels. I’m an educator and a parent. My first blog post on the topic is from the point of view of a classroom teacher. Here are some effective ways a parent can support their learner at home.
Remember, there are no simple, magic, snap-your-fingers fixes. Progress in learning is a long game with lots of trial and error.
You must know your child and invest the time to create meaningful and lasting change.
Fortunately, there are some straightforward and effective measures you can take to…
- widen their depth of knowledge.
- help them to become more independent learners.
READ! READ! READ!
Make sure they’re reading. Sounds too simple, right? It’s not. I firmly believe that once a child becomes a reader many things begin to fall into place. When a child finds a few favorites that they can cozy up to, he or she develops a rewarding relationship with reading – one they can return to time and again. A child who reads is a sponge for learning and continually ingesting the following skills:
Story structure: Readers experience the narrative arc as it unfolds, reaches a climax, and resolves. This builds narrative awareness, allows students to dive deeper into character development and recognize author’s purpose.
Sentence Structure, Word Choice, Syntax: Immersing oneself in good writing is the best teacher of all things vocabulary and grammar. It’s one thing to diagram sentences and have vocabulary exams. However, to see the way a compound sentence works within the context of a paragraph is the most authentic way to identify and transfer skills.
Writing Techniques: How does one become a better writer? Any writer will let you in on their secret: They read! A ton! The craft of writing can be taught but is also a layered process that takes shape over a long period of time. Good readers experience great writing first hand and in turn develop their own craft.
How to Focus: To read, is to shut off all the distractions of the world and devote oneself to a singular task. Focus is an incredibly important muscle to work, especially in today’s digital age of endless distractions. Reading is both stimulating and relaxing at the same time.
SCHEDULES & TIME MANAGEMENT:
Set schedules. Children crave structure, especially children with learning differences, school avoidance and/or anxiety. Even though there may be resistance at first, it pays off in the long-run. While some children have intrinsic motivation and discipline, many need help to develop the skills of organization and time management.
A work space: Have a designated area for school work. This area should be distinct (if possible) from where they play. If you’re working with a small space, set a clear demarcation between work and play. Perhaps turn on a special reading lamp when it’s time for work or place the books in a neat stack on the work surface.
Charts: Make a chart for your child that outlines hour by hour what their responsibilities are when they come home from school. Post it near their work space. Use it as a contract. It’s easier to refer to something concrete when talking about expectations.
Timers: Timers allow for a sense of control over a chaotic and demanding world for children. Start with smaller increments of time and work your way up. Try setting a timer for each subject area. Alas, when the timer goes off, the child knows they are free from math for the night or homework in general. Constraints can be freeing.
Delayed gratification: Work needs to be done before free time is earned. That’s a bottom line that may be met with the most resistance. But the earned free time is quite rewarding and satisfactory once the patterns are established.
Remember that some days these systems will work and other days they won’t. Children are not machines. There is always going back to the drawing board and reassessing. But small steps can lead to big changes…eventually!
Check out my next post for some more practical solutions!