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Family – How To Teach Your Child To Develop Good Study Skills

You can help your child develop good study skills by encouraging her to become better organized helping her to take better notes, and communicating with her teacher.
In order for children to excel in school, they must develop good study skills. Parents can do much to thankful kidsencourage their child to become more organized and more proficient in their academic work. If you help your child develop good study skills when they are young, those skills should help them through the rest of their academic career.

Parents should start instilling good study habits with their children as early as elementary school, and there are several things that you can do to help your child become a better student. One of the most important steps you can take is to help your child develop a good study schedule.

Some children like to come straight home, do their homework, and then play. Other children, especially those who are learning disabled, may need a break between their school day and homework. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you do not let them put off their school work until almost bedtime, when they will be tired and are likely to do lesser quality work.

Children who have attention deficit disorders may need to work on their homework in short increments of time. If your child has a learning disability, you may want to let her work on one assignment for about fifteen or twenty minutes, then let her move on to something else. She can come back and finish after a short break.

Be sure that you have a specific place set aside for your child to do her homework. It should be free from distractions such as the television, computer, video games, etc. Although your child may have a desk in her room, if she is younger, she may benefit more from working near you. If she is in the kitchen, dining room, or living room, you can easily check to see that she is remaining on task and give her help when she needs it.

Once you have established a routine and place for her to work, you need to help her get organized. Teachers will typically assign what type of notebook and other school supplies they want their students to have. It is very important that you initiate communication with your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Many teachers will willingly give their school e-mail address, and this is an excellent way for you to stay in contact.

If your teacher has not assigned a specific system of organization that she prefers, you will need to help your child develop one of her own. Make sure she has a notebook with pocket dividers. If she has several classes, she may want to have two or three notebooks that she can divide into classes. The pocket dividers will give her a place to put any handouts she may receive. Check her notebook periodically to see what work she is doing.

If your child is having trouble completing assignments, you can make a simple check sheet that lists such things as “homework assigned today”; “no homework today”; “study for test”, etc. Leave a line beside each notation, and ask your child’s teacher to check off anything that might pertain to your child for that day. Be sure and check the assignment sheet every day. If your child knows you will hold her accountable, she will learn to be more responsible.

Your child needs to develop good note-taking skills. Help her learn how to find the main point and supporting details of textbook chapters. Show her how to list the chapter and section names of her textbook, and then have her summarize each section in her own words. You can help her study by asking her to tell you key points from each section or from her study sheets. If she can’t answer it the first time, have her look over it again, and then quiz her.

Finally, encourage your child every step of the way. Not every student is an “A” student, but you should let your child know that you are proud of her if she is doing her best work.

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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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Developing Your Child’s Self-Esteem

thankful kidsHealthy self-esteem is like a child’s armor against the challenges of the world. Kids who know their strengths and weaknesses and feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These kids are realistic and generally optimistic. In contrast, kids with low self-esteem can find challenges to be sources of major anxiety and frustration. Those who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. If given to self-critical thoughts such as “I’m no good” or “I can’t do anything right,” they may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response might be “I can’t.”

What Is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is similar to self-worth (how much a person values himself or herself). This can change from day to day or from year to year, but overall self-esteem tends to develop from infancy and keep going until we are adults. Self-esteem also can be defined as feeling capable while also feeling loved. A child who is happy with an achievement but does not feel loved may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a child who feels loved but is hesitant about his or her own abilities can also develop low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when a good balance is maintained. Patterns of self-esteem start very early in life. The concept of success following effort and persistence starts early. Once people reach adulthood, it’s harder to make changes to how they see and define themselves. So, it’s wise to think about developing and promoting self-esteem during childhood. As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they’re creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people. This is why parental involvement is key to helping kids form accurate, healthy self-perceptions. Parents and caregivers can promote healthy self-esteem by showing encouragement and enjoyment in many areas. Avoid focusing on one specific area; for example, success on a spelling test, which can lead to kids feeling that they’re only as valuable as their test scores.

Signs of Unhealthy and Healthy Self-Esteem

Self-esteem fluctuates as kids grow. It’s frequently changed and fine-tuned, because it is affected by a child’s experiences and new perceptions. So it helps to be aware of the signs of both healthy and unhealthy self-esteem. Kids with low self-esteem may not want to try new things and may speak negatively about themselves: “I’m stupid,” “I’ll never learn how to do this,” or “What’s the point? Nobody cares about me anyway.” They may exhibit a low tolerance for frustration, giving up easily or waiting for somebody else to take over. They tend to be overly critical of and easily disappointed in themselves. Kids with low self-esteem see temporary setbacks as permanent, intolerable conditions, and a sense of pessimism prevails. This can place kids at risk for stress and mental health problems, as well as real difficulties solving different kinds of problems and challenges they encounter. Kids with healthy self-esteem tend to enjoy interacting with others. They’re comfortable in social settings and enjoys group activities as well as independent pursuits. When challenges arise, they can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others. For example, rather than saying, “I’m an idiot,” a child with healthy self-esteem says, “I don’t understand this.” They know their strengths and weaknesses, and accept them. A sense of optimism prevails. — How Parents Can Help How can a parent help to foster healthy self-esteem in a child? These tips can make a big difference:

  • Be careful what you say. Kids can be sensitive to parents’ and others’ words. Remember to praise your child not only for a job well done, but also for effort. But be truthful. For example, if your child doesn’t make the soccer team, avoid saying something like, “Well, next time you’ll work harder and make it.” Instead, try “Well, you didn’t make the team, but I’m really proud of the effort you put into it.” Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.Sometimes, a child’s skill level is just not there — so helping kids overcome disappointments can really help them learn what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at. As adults, it’s OK to say “I can’t carry a tune” or “I couldn’t kick a ball to save my life,” so use warmth and humor to help your kids learn about themselves and to appreciate what makes them unique.
  • Be a positive role model. If you’re excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your kids might eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem and they’ll have a great role model.
  • Identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs. It’s important for parents to identify kids’ irrational beliefs about themselves, whether they’re about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or anything else. Helping kids set more accurate standards and be more realistic in evaluating themselves will help them have a healthy self-concept.Inaccurate perceptions of self can take root and become reality to kids. For example, a child who does very well in school but struggles with math may say, “I can’t do math. I’m a bad student.” Not only is this a false generalization, it’s also a belief that can set a child up for failure. Encourage kids to see a situation in a more objective way. A helpful response might be: “You are a good student. You do great in school. Math is a subject that you need to spend more time on. We’ll work on it together.”
  • Be spontaneous and affectionate. Your love will help boost your child’s self-esteem. Give hugs and tell kids you’re proud of them when you can see them putting effort toward something or trying something at which they previously failed. Put notes in your child’s lunchbox with messages like “I think you’re terrific!”Give praise often and honestly, but without overdoing it. Having an inflated sense of self can lead kids and teens to put others down or feel that they’re better than everyone else, which can be socially isolating.
  • Give positive, accurate feedback. Comments like “You always work yourself up into such a frenzy!” will make kids feel like they have no control over their outbursts. A better statement is, “I can see you were very angry with your brother, but it was nice that you were able to talk about it instead of yelling or hitting.” This acknowledges a child’s feelings, rewards the choice made, and encourages the child to make the right choice again next time.
  • Create a safe, loving home environment. Kids who don’t feel safe or are abused at home are at greatest risk for developing poor self-esteem. A child who is exposed to parents who fight and argue repeatedly may feel they have no control over their environment and become helpless or depressed.Also watch for signs of abuse by others, problems in school, trouble with peers, and other factors that may affect kids’ self-esteem. Encourage your kids to talk to you or other trusted adults about solving problems that are too big to solve by themselves.
  • Help kids become involved in constructive experiences.Activities that encourage cooperation rather than competition are especially helpful in fostering self-esteem. For example, mentoring programs in which an older child helps a younger one learn to read can do wonders for both kids. Volunteering and contributing to your local community can have positive effects on self-esteem for everyone involved.

When promoting healthy self-esteem, it’s important to not have too much or too little but “just enough.” Make sure your kids don’t end up feeling that if they’re average or normal at something, it’s the same as not being good or special.

Finding Professional Help

If you suspect your child has low self-esteem, consider getting professional help. Child and adolescent therapists and counselors can help identify coping strategies to help deal with problems at school or home in ways that help kids feel better about themselves. Therapy can help kids learn to view themselves and the world more realistically and help with problem-solving. Developing the confidence to understand when you can deal with a problem and when to ask for help is vital to positive self esteem. Taking responsibility and pride in who you are is a sure sign of healthy self-esteem and the greatest gift parents can give to their child.

Reviewed by: Michelle New, PhD

Date reviewed: March 2012

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8 Ways to Make Your Child’s School Maths Revision Add Up

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When preparing for a Maths exam, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work that you need to do, or the amount of content that you need to cover. Moreover, anyone who’s not a natural mathematician will find it difficult to break down and practice particular problems, and will need to spend more time revising core parts of a course. There are a number of approaches, however, that can help you to improve your child’s Maths revision and help them get the most out of their exams.

1. Break Down the Exam

Look at the syllabus and what your child needs to cover in the exam, and check with their tutors or teachers over what sort of time you need to allocate to different parts of the test. Some questions in an exam are only worth one or two marks, so make sure they know how much time they need to work on them – doing practice tests can make it easier.

2. Practice Writing Out Your Calculations

To work through ideas effectively, and to practice for the exam, encourage your teen to write out their calculations and formulas, and draw graphs and equations.

3. Identify Key Areas

When looking at the syllabus, try to identify areas that they are particularly unsure about, and make sure that they spend more time on them than going over anything they’re already familiar with. You may want to speak to their tutor about extra resources if they’re struggling with a particular area.

4. Practice with Friends and Family

This is a particularly useful approach if there’s a mental Maths part of a test – asking them questions, or even just getting them to recite formulae, can help your child to be more confident for an upcoming exam.

5. Update Your Child’s Equipment

While they should already have all the equipment they need from their lessons, it’s worth double checking that they have, and are comfortable with using their calculator, and any extra tools they might need on the day of the exam.

6. Use Revision Cards

Cue cards and notes can be particularly useful for remembering key points, and can be stuck up around their room to remind them. Diagrams and equations can also be added and stuck to noticeboards to go over.

7. Use Maths Revision Apps

There are many different apps available for  Maths revision, depending on what level they’re studying. Collins offer revision apps to go with their textbooks, while the BBC’s GCSE Bitesize series has its own series of apps. Maths Card and other apps are also useful for producing virtual post it notes, and for taking practice tests.

8. Vary Their Revision

Perhaps the most important thing to focus on when doing Maths revision is to vary it to make sure they’re not overloading themselves in key areas. Don’t let them focus on one area all the time, and try not to allow them to get stuck on parts of an exam that they find too difficult – similarly, a long period of gradual revision is always better than rushing to get everything completed on time a few weeks before an exam is set to be held.