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Motivating Your Child to Do Homework and Study

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  • Is your child motivated to do homework and study or do you need to ‘strongly encourage’ your child to do the work?
  • Has homework time become a battleground?

I understand how difficult this can be for you once things get out of hand but DO NOT DESPAIR.  In my last article  Teaching Young Children To Study, I explained the importance of teaching even young children how to study so they can become independent learners at school. A key component of being an independent learner is motivation.

Here is the brief version:

STEP 1: FIND OUT WHAT THE BLOCKAGE IS

For you to be able to help your child overcome homework problems you first need to become a detective like Sherlock Holmes. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no point forcing your child to do work that he/she is not able to do. All that will happen is that you will both get more emotional and will not be able to think clearly or work with each other effectively. There could be a variety of reasons why your child won’t get on with homework such as:

  • doesn’t understand the work
  • hasn’t or can’t read the instructions properly
  • doesn’t know where to start
  • lacks the basic skills to do the work
  • hasn’t got the materials needed to complete the task

STEP 2: Break the work that needs to be done into a series of SIMPLE STEPS

Thus get your child to DO ONE STEP A TIME.

STEP 3: HAVE PATIENCE

Rome was n0t built in a day. Your goal should be to help your child get a few more skills and a bit more confidence every day. Research shows that the best way to build up good habits is to take small but regular steps. Just do as much in a sitting as you can both manage without getting tense. In the early stages it is often much more effective to do three 10-minute sessions than one 30-minute session.

Remember, if your child is not doing her/his homework effectively at the moment, then small positive changes on a regular basis is far better than no change at all.

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Top Tips for Your Child’s Academic Success

child-studyingAcademic success is important in a child’s life as it can help to shape the future. There are many things you can do to help your child or children succeed and they all start at home. Keep track of your child’s school activities, set up a consistent routine and ensuring that they have enough rest are simple tips that will help them to excel in school. In addition, parents who are involved in their children’s education help to foster the learning experience.

  •  Start a homework routine. Set a certain schedule for your child to do homework every day. If there is no homework assigned for the day, encourage your child to study and review the week’s assignments. Constantly reviewing information helps to instill the knowledge in your child’s brain, thereby helping them to gain better insight into the lessons.
  • Sleep is important because it allows your brain to recharge itself. If your child does not get enough sleep, it will affect their performance in school and out of school. Sleep is necessary for the body to function properly so make sure your child gets at least eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Take an interest in your child’s academics. It may have been a long time since you were in school, but you should still be able to check your child’s homework and assist them when necessary. Reading with children is a good way to spark interest in learning; it is also a good way to spend quality time with your child in a low-key manner.
  • Keep your child organized when it comes to school activities. Have your child carry a planner for teachers to record assignments in. Also, keep a wall calendar in your house with your child’s schedule and assignments. This will help to avoid any missing assignments and will also let you know how frequently your child studies.

Helping your child to succeed in school is one of your biggest jobs as a parent. Without establishing a routine in the household for both homework and bedtime, it can be very easy for a child to lose interest in school work. Not getting enough sleep and not being organized can affect your child’s function in school as well. By utilizing the top tips you are helping to establish your child’s academic success.

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Five Key Skills for Academic Success

It’s never too early or too late to help your child develop the skills for academic success. Learn how to build these skills and stay on track all year long.

It takes a combination of skills — organization, time management, prioritization, concentration and motivation — to achieve academic success. Here are some tips to help get your child on the right track.

btn arrow Talk to your Child

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To find out which of these skills your child has and which he can develop further, start a simple conversation that focuses on his goals. Ask him about his favorite subjects, classes he dreads and whether he’s satisfied with his latest progress report.

btn arrow Listen for Clues

Incorporate your own observations with your child’s self-assessment. Is your child overwhelmed by assignments? She may have trouble organizing time. Does your child have difficulty completing her work? She may get distracted too easily. Is your child simply not interested in school? She may need help getting motivated.

btn arrow Identify Problem Areas

Start here to help your child identify which of the five skill areas are trouble spots.

1. Organization

Whether it’s keeping track of research materials or remembering to bring home a lunch box, children need to be organized to succeed in school. For many students, academic challenges are related more to a lack of organization than to a lack of intellectual ability.

Tips to help your child get organized:

  • Make a checklist of things your child needs to bring to and from school every day. Put a copy by the door at home and one in his backpack. Try to check with him each day to see if he remembers the items on the list.
  • Find out how your child keeps track of his homework and how he organizes his notebooks. Then work together to develop a system he will want to use.
  • Shop with your child for tools that will help him stay organized, such as binders, folders or an assignment book.

2. Time Management

Learning to schedule enough time to complete an assignment may be difficult for your student. Even when students have a week to do a project, may won’t start until the night before it’s due. Learning to organize time into productive blocks takes practice and experience.

Tip to help your child manage time:

  • Track assignments on a monthly calendar. Work backward from the due date of larger assignments and break them into nightly tasks.
  • Help your child record how much time she spends on homework each week so she can figure out how to divide this time into manageable chunks.
  • Together, designate a time for nightly homework and help your child stick to this schedule.
  • If evenings aren’t enough, help your child find other times for schoolwork, such as early mornings, study halls or weekends.

3. Prioritization

Sometimes children fall behind in school and fail to hand in assignments because they simply don’t know where to begin. Prioritizing tasks is a skill your child will need throughout life, so it’s never too soon to get started.

The questionnaire

Tips to help your child prioritize:

  • Ask your child to write down all the things he needs to do, including non-school-related activities.
  • Ask him to label each task from 1 to 3, with 1 being most important.
  • Ask about each task, so that you understand your child’s priorities. If he labels all his social   activities as 1, then you know where his attention is focused.
  • Help your child change some of the labels to better prioritize for academic success. Then suggest he rewrite the list so all the 1s are at the top.
  • Check in frequently to see how the list is evolving and how your child is prioritizing new tasks.

4. Concentration

Whether your child is practicing her second-grade spelling words or studying for a trigonometry test, it’s important that she works on schoolwork in an area with limited distractions and interruptions.

Tips to help your child concentrate:

  • Turn off access to email and games when your child works on the computer.
  • Declare the phone and TV off-limits during homework time.
  • Find space that fits the assignment. If your child is working on a science project, she may need lots of space; if she’s studying for a Spanish test, she will need a well-lit desk.
  • Help your child concentrate during homework time by separating her from her siblings.

5. Motivation 

Most children say they want to do well in school, yet many still fail to complete the level of work necessary to succeed academically. The reason is often motivation. Tapping into your child’s interests is a great way to get him geared to do well in school.

Tips to help motivate your child:

  • Link school lessons to your child’s life. If he’s learning percentages, ask him to figure out the price of a discounted item next time you shop.
  • Link your child’s interests to academics. If he’s passionate about music, give him books about musicians and show how music and foreign languages are connected.
  • Give your child control and choices. With guidance, let him determine his study hours, organizing system or school project topics.
  • Encourage your child to share his expertise. Regularly ask him about what he’s learning in school.
  • Congratulate your child, encourage him and celebrate all his successes.

Often what holds children back from trying is the fear of failure or the memory of a time they didn’t do well. You can help break this cycle by celebrating your child’s successes, no matter how small, and by giving him opportunities to succeed academically.

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How to get a Defiant Child to do Homework

child-screaming“No! I won’t do it!” The screams are heartrending as they emit from the kitchen amid gasps of tears and foot stomping. Unfortunately this occurs all too often in households with a defiant child refusing to do homework. Homework can be a burden both for students and parents if not approached correctly. If a defiant child is involved in the equation, it can mean even more misery for parents and care-givers. There are several strategies that can be taken to ease the homework dilemma with a defiant child and help create an environment for success.

Defiance is a Symptom

Occurs all too often in households with a defiant child refusing to do homework. Homework can be a burden both for students and parents if not approached correctly. If a defiant child is involved in the equation, it can mean even more misery for parents and care-givers. There are several strategies that can be taken to ease the homework dilemma with a defiant child and help create an environment for success.

Often times when a child is defiant regarding homework it is a symptom of other issues or habits. It may mean investigating understanding why the child is defiant. Children can be more defiant for one parent versus another parent or testing the boundaries that the parents set. Sometimes it is evidence of defiance against the teacher or even other siblings. So before attempting other steps, trying to analyze why the child is so obstinate is the best place to start.

clockEstablish Time and Place

Routine is important to children. Homework should become a routine just as bedtime, bath time and brushing teeth. Usually it is best to start the homework as early as possible. Once the child is tired, there is a greater likelihood that the child will become defiant. If homework is a consistent part of the daily routine then the child knows that there is no wiggle room for defiance.

Be Steadfast

Under the pressure of defiance, parents sometimes lose their will to enforce good homework practices. There is a temptation to be worn down. Keep in mind if the child wins and just doesn’t do the homework, it is a long term loss. Will the fact that one assignment doesn’t get completed on one night affect a child’s education? No, but over time the child will have missed out on many learning opportunities and eventually it can cause a student to be behind other classmates academically. As the child becomes older, there will no doubt be situations that will have more at stake than simply a grade and yet the defiant child will have had defiance rewarded in the past. It may lead to more defiant behavior in the future.

New Infusion of Authority

Sometimes a great tool is to bring in a new person to be the authority for awhile. Many students improve by having a relative or a tutor come in to work with them on homework for awhile. Children tend to think that parents don’t know anything, but when someone else tells them the exact same thing, the student begins to respond. Another factor in this is when children see the negative attention from a parent as attention. Bringing in someone that does not have that emotional tie can help with a change in behavior.

Small Successes

It may be necessary to begin with small steps with rewards. The defiant child can rebel because homework seems daunting and overwhelming. Break the assignments down and then take a small break or have a snack. Often times when the student knows that a break is coming after one task, it will be tackled with more gusto. Eventually the student may indicate the desire to do a little more before taking a break. To start the goal may be finish five math problems or read one page in the book. The small goals make children feel like it is a surmountable task.

Be Calm

Often the frustrations of parents come through to the defiant child and make the situation worse. It is always best to be calm and if a parent feels upset with the child it is better to step away and ask the other parent to step in for a while. Another good idea is to decide that one parent will work on English and Social Studies while the other parent works on Science and Math. As a result is varies who is the person enforcing the homework. Also if there is such a push for perfection on the assignments that the child feels he or she can’t be perfect, it can lead to defiance. It is acceptable for the child to get a problem wrong once in awhile. Don’t push for perfection.

Work with the School

Talking to and enlisting suggestions from the child’s teachers is a valuable step. Do not keep the child out of the discussions. The teacher, administrators and counselors can be there to reinforce the expectations. It helps to make it clear to the student that everyone is united. Do not see the professionals as enemies. They are able to look at the child objectively and not emotionally.

Make it Visual

Consider a visual way for the child to see accomplishment on homework. For younger children it may mean taking a link off of a paper chain or putting jelly beans in a container. It can be a marker board or calendar to mark off the items completed. When the tasks are made visible to the student, the student develops a stronger sense of accomplishment. For older children it can be as simple as having an in-box and an out-box. Don’t put everything in the in-box at first.

BrightColoredPresents-GiftCertificaNo Rewards before Completion

A common mistake is to allow students to watch a little television or play a few video games before tackling homework. It must be established early on that completion of the homework comes before pleasure. If it is the other way around, a defiant child will continue to be defiant because of the desire to continue the pleasurable activity.

Proper Working Conditions

For some children an improper working environment can cause them to be defiant. Students are hungry and thirsty when they come home from school. A few minutes for a snack are certainly appropriate. Consider having the child sit at the counter while preparing meals so the parent is available for supervision and questions and yet it is not overbearingly looking over the child’s shoulder. Make sure that the student has appropriate supplies and that the study area is clean and neat. Cluttered desks, tables or other study areas are not conducive to studying for many students. Do consider playing music lightly in the background or allow an MP3 player as it can help some students to focus and then the homework is a little more pleasurable. Finding the proper working conditions may require a little experimentation.

If a child is defiant with homework, it may just be a symptom of other areas of defiance also. Parents should take this seriously and try to improve this behavior at as young of an age as possible. Developing homework skills at a young age can create habits that will last a student into college and beyond.

>> End your worries here at MathsExCEL !

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Teach Your Child Problem Sums Solving

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Ever teach your child Maths Problem Sums using the Model Drawing but discover that you do  not know how to draw the diagram? If you have, you might want to know that you are not alone. Many parents are facing the same problem as you simply because you were not this way when you were young.

Model Drawing has since been widely used in the teaching of students in primary schools in Singapore. They are introduced to the method from as young as Primary One.

Students typically find word problems difficult due to several reasons:

  • they are weak in their Mathematical language;
  • they have limited understanding of the arithmetic operations;
  • they are unable to relate the known(s) to the unknown(s) when the problem structure is difficult to understand;
  • they are unable to analyse problem situations.

This method is especially useful when: you teach kids who respond better to visual stimuli (e.g. pictures, drawings, etc); you try to provide math homework help but the conventional methods do not really work well with your kids; and your kids has not learnt algebra yet and solving the math problems with algebra is not an option.

However, without proper guidance, you may not be able to experience the full benefits of the Model Drawing. The Model Drawing essentially becomes a good entry level tool to help the your child to understand and break the questions down into component parts making solving and learning math easy.

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What is a Model Drawing ?

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free-trialThe model approach requires students to draw rectangular boxes to represent part-whole relationships and Math Value. By drawing such blocks, they can visualize the math problems more clearly and are able to make tacit knowledge explicit. Word problem solving is a major part of the curriculum in Primary Mathematics in Singapore, both known and unknown values, in the Maths Problem Sums.

This technique of model building is a visual way of picturing a situation. Instead of forming simultaneous equations and solving for the variables, model building involves using blocks or boxes to solve the problem. The power of using models can be best illustrated by problems, often involving fractions, ratios or percentages, which appear difficult but if models can be drawn to show the situation, the solution becomes clearer, sometimes even obvious.

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