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11 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Bullying

What is bullying? StopBullying.gov defines “bullying” as unwanted, aggressive behavior in which a child or teen uses a real or perceived power imbalance, such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm other kids. It can include anything from spreading rumors to name-calling to physical aggression. Essentially, Bullying is an abuse of power.

Why would a young person do such a thing? Because it gives her power. We all need to feel powerful in our lives. If we don’t have access to power in healthy ways, it can be hard to resist using it in unhealthy ways. And for a child or teen who often feels powerless in her life, abusing power by bullying can feel as potent as a drug. If he’s hurting inside, it can help him feel a little better for a short time. If someone has humiliated, threatened, or hurt him, those feelings often threaten to overwhelm his psyche, and he lashes out, wanting to humiliate, threaten or hurt someone else. Unfortunately, then, kids who are hurting often hurt other kids.

Can you bully-proof your child? Unfortunately, no. There have always been hurting people who act out by hurting others, and your child’s path will sometimes cross with theirs. And all children want to get their way, which means they will sometimes abuse power; that’s developmentally normal and short-lived in a context where they’re also developing empathy. Your goal is not to insulate your child, but to support him to develop the awareness and skills to protect himself when necessary, and to seek help when he’s in over his head.

Bullying behavior begins in preschool and gains momentum as kids grow. Depending on which survey you read, between 40 and 80 percent of middle schoolers admit to participating in bullying behavior, so clearly, our culture bears some responsibility for the pervasiveness of bullying. Many kids describe themselves as having been subjected to bullying but also as having bullied others. For this reason, restorative justice circles, conflict resolution training and transforming the culture of a school have all been proven to be more effective approaches to reduce bullying than targeting bullies with punitive punishment. Unfortunately, our school cultures are still struggling to implement effective approaches. The interaction of bullying and social media seems to have increased the psychological danger so that more children are committing suicide in response to bullying.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can help your child develop the skills to stand up to bullying behavior, and you can keep him from becoming a bully. How?

1. Model compassionate, respectful relationships from the time your child is small

As Alice Miller, author of Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, wrote: “If children have been accustomed from the start to having their world respected, they will have no trouble later in life recognizing disrespect directed against them in any form and will rebel against it on their own.”

The most effective way to keep children from being bullied, and from becoming bullies, is to make sure they grow up in loving, respectful relationships, rather than relationships that use power or force to control them. Children learn both sides of every relationship, and they can act either one. If you spank, your child will learn that physical violence is the way to respond to interpersonal problems. Research has repeatedly established that physically disciplining a child is associated with more bullying behaviors.

In fact, any discipline methods that use power over a child teach him to use power over others, or to let others use power over him. Punishment is often perceived by children as adults using force to get their way, which teaches them that bullying is okay. Don’t worry, you don’t need that kind of discipline.

2. Stay connected to your child through thick and thin

Lonely kids are more likely to be bullied. And kids are often ashamed that they’re being bullied, so they worry about telling their parents. Remember, parenting is 80% connection — a close relationship with your child — and only 20% guidance. The guidance won’t stick unless you have the relationship to support it, and will just drive your child away. So prioritize your relationship with your child, and keep those lines of communication open, no matter what.

3. Model confident behavior with other people

If you tend to back down easily so you don’t make a scene, but then later feel pushed-around, it’s time to change that. Your child is learning from watching you. Experiment with finding ways to assert your own needs or rights while maintaining respect for the other person. It’s also important not to put yourself or your child down because you’re teaching her to follow in your footsteps.

4. Directly teach your child respectful self-assertion

Kids need to know they can get their needs met while being respectful of other people. Give him words to stick up for himself early on:

“It’s my turn now.”

“Hey, stop that.”

“Hands off my body.”

“It’s not okay to hurt.”

“I don’t like being called that. I want you to call me by my name.”

5. Teach your child basic social skills

Unfortunately, bullies prey on kids whom they perceive to be vulnerable. If you have a child who has social-skill challenges, make it a priority to support your child in all the other ways listed in this article, to make him less attractive to bullies. Then, make games out of social skills, and practice at home. Role plays with your child how to join a game at the playground, introduce himself to another child at a party, or initiate a playdate. For instance, kids who are successful in joining groups of kids usually observe first and find a way to fit into the group, rather than just barging in.

Sometimes kids want peer acceptance so much that they continue to hang around a group of peers even when one of the group leaders begins to mistreat them. If you suspect your child might be vulnerable, listen to what he says about peer interactions to help him learn to check in with his own inner wisdom, and work to provide healthy relationship opportunities for him.

6. Teach your child how the dynamics of bullying work

Research shows that bullies begin with verbal harassment. How the “victim” responds to the first verbal aggression determines whether the bully continues to target this particular child. If the aggression gives the bully what he’s looking for — a feeling of power from successfully pushing the other child’s buttons — the aggression will generally escalate. It’s imperative to discuss this issue with your child BEFORE he is subject to bullying so he can stand up for himself successfully when a bully first “tests” him.

7. Practice with roleplays so that your child feels comfortable responding to teasing and provocations

Roleplay with your child how he can stand up to a bully. Point out to your child that the bully wants to provoke a response that makes him feel powerful, so showing emotion and fighting back is exactly what the bully feeds off. Explain that while he can’t control the bully, he can always control his own response. So in every interaction, how he responds will either inflame the situation or defuse it. Your child needs to avoid getting “hooked” no matter how mad the bully makes him.

The best strategy is always to maintain one’s own dignity, and to let the “bully” maintain his dignity, in other words, not to attack or demean the other person. To do this, simply say something calm like:

“You know, I’m just going to ignore that comment.”

“I think I have something else to do right now.”

“No thank you.”

Then, just walk away.

Teach your child to count to ten to stay calm, look the bully in the eye, and say one of these things. Practice until your child has a strong, self-assured tone.

8. Teach your child that there is no shame in being frightened by a bully, in walking away, or in telling an adult and asking for help

Bullying situations can escalate, and saving face is less important than saving their lives.

9. Teach kids to intervene to prevent bullying when they see it

Bullying expert Michele Borba says that when bystanders — kids who are nearby — intervene correctly, studies find they can stop bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds.

The best interventions:

Partner with the victim and remove her from danger – Go stand with the victim physically, turn the victim away from the bully and walk her off in the other direction — towards adult help. Say “You look upset” or “I’ve been looking for you” or “The teacher sent me to find you.”

Get help – Bullies love an audience. Get the other kids on your side by waving them over to you, yelling, “We need your help.”  Confront the bully: “You’re being mean.”  Then walk away: “C’mon, let’s go!”

And of course, if you’re at all worried about safety, shout for a teacher or dial 911 on a cell phone.

10. Teach your child basic bully avoidance

Bullies operate where adults aren’t present, so if your child has been bullied, she should avoid unsupervised hallways, bathrooms, and areas of the playground. Sitting in the front of the school bus, standing in the front of the line, and sitting at a lunch table near the cafeteria chaperones are all good strategies for bully avoidance.

11. Don’t hesitate to intervene

Your job as the parent is to protect your child. That means that in addition to teaching your child to stick up for herself, you may well need to call the teacher or principal. Don’t give your child the message that she’s all alone to handle this. And don’t assume that if there isn’t physical violence, she isn’t being wounded in a deep way. Despite the old rhyme about words not hurting, mean words and isolation are terribly damaging a child or teen’s psyche, and research shows they can cause lasting negative effects. If the school cannot protect your child, consider transferring to a different school, or even homeschooling.


Strategies for Kids

Here are six of the most successful strategies to help kids defend themselves, courtesy of bullying expert Michele Borba. Be sure to check out her website for more info on bullying.

Assert yourself

Teach your child to face the bully by standing tall and using a strong voice. Your child should name the bullying behavior and tell the aggressor to stop: “That’s teasing. Stop it.” or “Stop making fun of me. It’s mean.”

Question the response

Ann Bishop, who teaches violence prevention, tells her students to respond to an insult with a non-defensive question: “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you want to tell me I am dumb (or fat) and hurt my feelings?”

Use “I want”

Communication experts suggest teaching your child to address the bully beginning with “I want” and say firmly what he wants to be changed: “I want you to leave me alone.” or “I want you to stop teasing me.”

Agree with the teaser

Consider helping your child create a statement agreeing with her teaser. Teaser: “You’re dumb.” Child: “Yeah, but I’m good at it.” or Teaser: “Hey, four eyes.” Child: “You’re right, my eyesight is poor.”

Ignore it

Bullies love it when their teasing upsets their victims, so help your child find a way to not let his tormentor get to him. Fifth graders offer these kid-tested ways to ignore teasers:

“Pretend they’re invisible,” 

“Walk away without looking at them,” 

“Quickly look at something else and laugh,” 

“Look completely uninterested.”

Make Fun of the Teasing

Fred Frankel, author of Good Friends Are Hard to Find suggests victims answer every tease with a reply, but not tease back. The teasing often stops, Frankel says; because the child lets the tormentor know he’s not going to let the teasing get to him (even if it does). Suppose the teaser says, “You’re stupid.” The child says a rehearsed comeback such as: “Really?” Other comebacks could be: “So?,” “You don’t say,” “And your point is?,” or “Thanks for telling me.”

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Safety Rules for Every Family

ehp.122-a12.g001It’s a big world out there. When your child was a baby or toddler, you were always there, or you left your child in the care of a trusted adult. But as your child gets older, you’ll be holding his or her hand less and less. You’re bound to worry a bit about safety. And when kids begin to navigate the sidewalks or even public transit themselves, it can be positively nerve-wracking.

 

Every parent’s nightmare is that phone call with the news that something has happened to her child. Rest assured that despite the prominent publicity that accompanies tragedies, they are very rare. And even more encouraging, experts say that most abuse cases, abductions, and even accidents involving children can be prevented if parents and children know what to do to prevent them.

So here you are, one dozen basic Family Safety Rules that every parent can implement, that really will help you to keep your child safe as you let go of his hand.

1. Prioritize your child.

“Every time you respond to your child’s cry of hunger or pain or discomfort, you raise a child who knows he will be heard,” say safety experts Ric Bentz and Christine Allison. Children who feel heard and taken seriously are much more likely to stick up for themselves, to fight back, and to ask for help.

The best way to keep your kids from being abused by predators, bullied, using drugs, becoming sexually active before they’re ready — virtually every risk factor you can think of — is to maintain close relationships with them. Eat dinner together as many nights as you can. Make sure you have one on one time — unstructured (this isn’t for homework or reading to them), to see what bubbles up and help your child express emotions and problems — with each child every day, preferably for at least 15 minutes with each child.  If you notice that your child is defiant or distant, make it your highest priority to re-connect.

2. Teach your child to cross the street.

It’s so automatic for us that we often don’t realize that children need to be taught to cross the street safely. When your child is young enough to hold your hand, stop every single time and announce “Let’s cross safely. First check the signal — it shows the person walking, so we can cross. Now we look left, then right, then left again. Any cars? Okay, now we can cross!”  As your child gets a bit older, ask him to take charge of the ritual. By the time he can cross by himself, safe habits will be engrained. Needless to say, looking at your phone while you’re crossing the street is terrible modeling for your child. Be sure once he’s old enough for a phone, he has the discipline to put it away while crossing the street.

3. Give your child the tools to prevent bullying.

Bullies prey on children whom they perceive to be vulnerable. The best way to keep children from being bullied is to make sure they have high self esteem and strong relationships at home and with peers. Bullying behavior often begins by “testing the waters” with a mean remark, to see if they can goad the child into hurt or upset. If your child is being bullied, role-play with him how he can stand up to a bully with quiet dignity and walk away. Kids need to be reassured that there is no shame in being frightened by a bully, in walking away, or in telling an adult and asking for help. Bullying situations can escalate, and saving face is less important than saving their life. For more on protecting your child from bullying, see 10 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Bullying.

4. When your child goes to someone’s house on a playdate, be sure you know the family, and watch your child for cues about what’s happened.

Get to know the parents at households where your child spends time. Talk to him about what goes on at his friends’ houses. Are the kids unsupervised on the computer? Allowed to stroll up to the store alone? Would he be able to recognize if his friend’s mother was drunk? Would he know what to do if his friend’s father touched him inappropriately? What if his friend suggested they look at porn, or play a new “secret” game involving touching or sniffing markers?

Before your child plays at a new friend’s house, ask if they keep guns, and if so, how they are secured. Teach your children to leave any room and house immediately if a gun appears – loaded or not. It would be great if your child can say “I’m not allowed to be in a room with a gun,” but your child will be under great social pressure at this moment, and that invites a discussion that your child will then get sucked into participating in. Any child old enough to be on his own at a playdate understands social lies and will be grateful for your permission to say something like “Oops, I just remembered I have a dentist appointment!”

5. Instead of teaching “Stranger Danger” teach kids to trust their instincts and stand up for themselves.

Teach your child that most people are okay, but there are a few people out there who do bad things, and could hurt her. She needs to be told explicitly that it is more important to stay safe and to trust herself than to be polite or nice. It is okay for her to question, disobey, and even run away from someone whose behavior is making her acutely uncomfortable. Predators give signals; your child just needs your support to trust herself in reading them. Teach your child what constitutes improper behavior on the part of an adult, for instance, that it is inappropriate for adult strangers to offer children treats or to ask them for directions, and their reaction should be to walk away immediately, and always to fight back and shout “Help me! This is not my parent!” If she’s in a public place and gets worried, teach her to run to a mother with a child, who can generally be counted on to help.

6. Give your child the tools to prevent sexual abuse.

The statistics are that one out of every three girls will have suffered some unwanted sexual touching by the time she is sixteen. But don’t assume only girls are sexually molested, the stats for boys are almost as bad, one out of six. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, someone the child knows and trusts usually perpetrates child molestations, so teaching “Stranger Danger” completely misses the point and does not protect children. Instead:

  • Teach Consent. If you want your child to stand up for herself in an abuse situation, it’s critical that she be allowed to make her own decisions about who touches her body from an early age. Raise your child with the house rules that “We ask people before we touch their body” and “When someone says STOP!, we stop.” Don’t “steal” kisses or hugs if your child says no. Never force your child to be touched by a relative or friend if she doesn’t want contact. She must be respectful, and you can ask her to blow Grandpa a kiss instead of giving a hug, but she must be in charge of her own body.
  • Teach your child that in your family, no one ever keeps secrets.  Molesters usually begin “grooming” by seducing kids into complicity with mild secrets: “Don’t tell your mom I gave you candy.” Your child needs to know that anytime anyone asks her to keep a secret, she is to tell you immediately. In fact, I often hear that another child, older in years or experience, is the one who “teaches a secret game” to a child, with tragic results. Make sure your child knows he can tell you anything, and that you will love him no matter what he’s done.
  • Educate. Teach your child that every part of her body covered with a swimsuit is private, belonging only to her. Every child should have (and be regularly read) books like No Means No by Jayneen Sanders and My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky. Teach your child that no one – no adult, no child, NO ONE – should ever touch her in ways that make her uncomfortable.
  • Protect. Don’t leave your child with anyone, even your boyfriend, unless you completely trust him. The good and bad news about abuse is that most of it, statistically, is not perpetrated by strangers. It happens at the hands of family members or the mother’s boyfriend. Almost all the rest is perpetrated by trusted intimates such as coaches, religious leaders or teachers. Bad news? Yes, these are people your child trusts. But it’s good news because it’s a risk you can usually avoid, if you trust your instincts and pay attention to your child. This is just one of the many reasons that stepparents should never have the responsibility of disciplining their partner’s children.

7. Every child should know how to SWIM.

And be sure your child knows NEVER to dive into water that she has not already personally established to be deep and safe. Since toddlers are most at risk of drowning, supervision is critical near pools or creeks, and of course when a bathtub has water in it.

8. Make helmets non-negotiable for cycling, skating or skate-boarding.

They reduce the risk of brain injury by 90%.

9. Cars are dangerous.

If you are transporting a little one in the back of your car, train yourself to check the car before you get out to be sure your child is out of the car, so you don’t space out and forget a sleeping child – horrible to even think about, I know, but we’re sleep-deprived parents and every year, babies and toddlers die in cars because we go on autopilot. Train your child to buckle up. Teach her to get out of any car immediately if the driver is drunk. Role play with her what she can say to get out of the car and to a safe place. (Again, “I’m carsick! I’m going to throw up! Stop the car quick!” may not be strictly true, but will be a lot easier for your child to say than “You’re behaving erratically and I think you may have been drinking. Please let me out of the car.”) Make sure that she knows she can always call you for a ride regardless of the situation.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. Once she starts driving, make sure she hears any personal stories you have about kids who’ve died in car accidents; that story could keep her alive. When you see a news story about an accident caused by a driver texting, discuss it at the dinner table. Admit that you’re tempted, too, but role model turning off your phone and putting it in your bag in the back seat. (Need directions? Pull off the road to check them.)

10. When your child begins using public transit, ease into it.

First, travel with him. Then, stay near him but let him travel “alone. ” Then, let him travel with a friend. Role play like crazy: What happens if he and his friend get separated? What if someone pulls a knife and asks for his money? (Yes, this happened to my 13 year old.) What if his cell phone falls on the subway tracks? What if some guy stares at him and it gives him the creeps? Buy him a cell phone and have him call you before he gets on the bus and after he gets off. Be sure he doesn’t use his phone or other electronics en route; they make him a target.

11. The best way to keep your child safe is to help him develop good judgment.

There is no substitute for supervision and knowing what’s going on in your child’s life, but as your child becomes increasingly independent, he’ll need to be aware of his own instincts about what’s safe, and follow them. Unfortunately, the brain of a teen is primed to be influenced by peers, so he can easily override that “still, small voice within ” if all the other guys are doing something risky. Daredevil behavior is bad enough in a six year old, but in a sixteen year old it can be deadly. Help your child develop good judgment (here’s a whole article on how) and social intelligence, so he can resist the lure of social pressure when he needs to.

12. Talk with your kids constantly – and listen more than you talk.

Listening keeps you connected and helps your child feel safe. But it also helps your child talk to you more, and when you get kids talking about something, they’re thinking about it. So introduce topics that will help your child think, reflect, and develop good judgment. Ask questions, like:

  • What do you worry about the most?
  • If you got into really big trouble, how do you think I would respond?
  • What are the different kinds of courage? How do you define bravery?
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5 Strategies To Build Math Confidence

This year is just like every other year.  There seems to be one BIG issue facing our students.   Last year, we are seeing a flurry of children with reading fluency and spelling issues.  The major concern I hear from parents this school year has been their child’s math struggles.  Math can be a challenge for students because they are faced with mathematical skills that are difficult to learn and typically this is caused by a lack of foundation in basic math concepts and difficulty with number sense.  If your child happens to be one of the students with math anxiety, here are some strategies to build math confidence.

schedule-free-trial-class1.  Practice math DAILY!  Ever heard the saying, “Math is all around us?” Well, it is true!  Look for opportunities to involve your child in everyday tasks such as making dinner (measurement, counting, estimating), walking to the park (calculating distance & time), putting away laundry (counting, sorting), or going shopping (money, calculation). There is always a way to incorporate math concepts with your children.  You don’t even have to set aside time to practice.  Let it happen naturally!

2.  Math is FUN!  Seriously, there are a dozen ways to have fun without knowing you are actually doing math.  Math concepts are naturally designed to be made into a game!  Sometimes you need to be creative and not rely on traditional board games. Try playing blackjack to work on adding, designing an obstacle course to build time skills, playing war to practice multiplication facts, playing computer games, creating guessing games, and even using Ipad apps. The possibilities are endless!

3. Review, Review, Review!  Weekends are a great time to go back and work on the skills that have posed a problem in the past.  If your child has never really mastered addition (yes, this is where they are still using their fingers to count), take the opportunity to take a few steps back and work on this skill.  It is the perfect time because their classmates are not around to compare what one another is doing OR not doing!

4. Get a head start!  We have all been there before…staring at a math problem that we have no idea how to solve.  I remember mine, it was the nine’s times tables.  Even the best and brightest child is going to come up against a problem that is new and challenging. Suddenly, math doesn’t seem to make sense. These can be crushing moments that end your child’s interest in math.  Look ahead into the upcoming lesson, make sure your child has the prerequisite skills necessary to be tackling the problems so they are not faced with such a large hurdle when the lesson begins.  >> http://bit.ly/Champion

5.  Ensure your child is not missing crucial concepts!  Sometimes kids miss concepts that are essential building blocks for understanding later concepts. If your child misses critical math milestones chances are your child is going to fall behind with related concepts.  This is a major blow to anyone’s confidence.  Start with the simple math activities and work slowly through math connections. This will lead to confidence, strength and a positive outlook about math.

Children learn best with consistent opportunities and exposure to math concepts.  These opportunities will develop a deep comprehension of the concepts and strategic problem solving skills. It is important to assist children by providing them with the necessary background knowledge to find the correct solutions. SmartExcel has math coaches to bring these skills to your child.  If you would like to learn more about how our math coaches can help your child, please contact us at (65) 9457 5811 or ask@SmartExcel.sg


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Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children: Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think

anger_childHow do you nip escalating fights over power in the bud? We show you three powerful techniques for defusing defiant power struggles.

“Remember, when you engage in an argument with your child, you’re just giving him more power.”

How do you know if you’re entering into a power struggle with your child? Any time you’re asking your child to do something and he’s refusing to comply—when you find him “pushing back” against the request you’ve given or the rules you’ve set down—you’re in a struggle. If the push for power is appropriate, you should be able to sit down with your child and talk about it in a fairly reasonable way. If it escalates into an argument or fight, you are in a defiant power struggle—and make no mistake about it, parents need effective ways to dial that back immediately.  Read more …

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Why You Can’t Be Your Child’s Friend

Here’s the Truth

If being your kids’ friend was enough to raise them successfully, we would all probably parent that way. But our job is way more complicated than that. Children and teens really crave boundaries, limits and structure. At the same time, they also need some healthy separation from us as they go through adolescence and develop into adults. Our role as parents is really to teach, coach and give our kids consequences when they misbehave. Read more …

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Problems with Homework

lead_960From time to time you may have concerns about homework. Meet with teachers early in the school year and ask them to let you know if difficulties arise.

Some problems which may arise are:

  • the homework can regularly be too hard or too easy
  • your child refuses to do assignments despite encouragement
  • your child has problems completing assignments on time
  • you would like your child to do homework missed through illness
  • neither your child nor you understand the homework
  • Read more …

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Practical Ways to Help Homework

asian21. Provide a quiet environment

Provide a quiet, well lit study area. Avoid distractions such as the television and loud music. Encourage other family members to be quiet, especially youngsters.

2. Have a Regular Homework Routine

Obviously household routines differ. Late at night is rarely a good time to study, as children are tired. You may need to be flexible if your child attends outside activities. Try to get a balance, but homework is a priority. If it is being rushed then consider reducing after school commitments or television viewing. Having a routine helps to avoid excuses such as “I’ll do it after this programme” or “I forgot.” It is important that a child learns to take responsibility rather than having to rely on reminders. Also do not expect your child to work on an empty stomach. No-one works well when they are hungry. Read more …

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Helping your Child with Homework

tigerWritten by a practising teacher, this article is aimed at parents of children aged up to 14.

Studies in Britain have shown that children who are supported by their families with homework are likely to perform significantly better in academic examinations at 16 years old and beyond than those who do not. If we want our children to be successful in school, family involvement is important.

How can you help?

  1. By showing an interest you are communicating the fact that school work is important and needs to be taken seriously.
  2. Encourage children to complete homework to the best of their ability.
  3. Urge children to watch less television and spend more time studying and reading.
  4. Express high expectations for children from an early age.

Read more …

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6 Small Ways to Make Each of Your Kids Feel Special

Found: Simple but powerful ways to ensure all of your children feel like a VIP.

Read more …

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The Four Styles of Parenting

iStock mom holding son_NewDevelopmental psychologists have long been interested in how parents impact child development. However, finding actual cause-and-effect links between specific actions of parents and later behavior of children is very difficult. Some children raised in dramatically different environments can later grow up to have remarkably similar personalities. Conversely, children who share a home and are raised in the same environment can grow up to have astonishingly different personalities.

Despite these challenges, researchers have uncovered convincing links between parenting styles and the effects these styles have on children. During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children (Baumrind, 1967). Using naturalistic observation, parental interviews and other research methods, she identified four important dimensions of parenting:

  • Disciplinary strategies
  • Warmth and nurturance
  • Communication styles
  • Expectations of maturity and control

Based on these dimensions, Baumrind suggested that the majority of parents display one of three different parenting styles.

The Four Parenting Styles

(1) Authoritarian Parenting
In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (1991).

(2) Authoritative Parenting
Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (1991).

(3) Permissive Parenting
Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.

(4) Uninvolved Parenting
An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.

The Impact of Parenting Styles

What effect do these parenting styles have on child development outcomes? In addition to Baumrind’s initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies that have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.

  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

Why is it that authoritative parenting provides such advantages over other styles? “First, when children perceive their parents’ requests as fair and reasonable, they are more likely to comply with the requests,” explain authors Hockenbury and Hockenbury in their text Psychology. “Second, the children are more likely to internalize (or accept as their own) the reasons for behaving in a certain way and thus to achieve greater self-control.”

Why Do Parenting Styles Differ?

After learning about the impact of parenting styles on child development, you may wonder why all parents simply don’t utilize an authoritative parenting style. After all, this parenting style is the most likely to produce happy, confident, and capable children. What are some reasons why parenting styles might vary? Some potential causes of these differences include culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level, and religion.

Of course, the parenting styles of individual parents also combine to create a unique blend in each and every family. For example, the mother may display an authoritative style while the father favors a more permissive approach. In order to create a cohesive approach to parenting, it is essential that parents learn to cooperate as they combine various elements of their unique parenting styles.

Limitations and Criticisms

There are, however, some important limitations of parenting style research that should be noted. Links between parenting styles and behavior are based upon correlational research, which is helpful for finding relationships between variables but cannot establish definitive cause-and-effect relationships. While there is evidence that a particular parenting style is linked to a certain pattern of behavior, other important variables such as a child’s temperament can also play a major role.

Researchers have also noted that the correlations between parenting styles and behaviors are sometimes weak at best. In many cases, the expected child outcomes do not materialize; parents with authoritative styles will have children who are defiant or who engage in delinquent behavior, while parents with permissive styles will have children who are self-confident and academically successful.

“There is no universally “best” style of parenting,” writes author Douglas Bernstein in his book Essentials of Psychology. “So authoritative parenting, which is so consistently linked with positive outcomes in European American families, is not related to better school performance among African American or Asian American youngsters.”

The Bottom Line: Parenting styles are associated with different child outcomes and the authoritative style is generally linked to positive behaviors such as strong self-esteem and self-competence. However, other important factors including culture, children’s perceptions of parental treatment, and social influences also play an important role in children’s behavior.

By Kendra Cherry,
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How Do Math Manipulatives Help Children Learn?

countingStrong math skills provide the foundation for a wide variety of careers, such as computer programming, law, design and medicine. To really learn math, kids need to move beyond memorization to understand how the concepts behind the formulas work in real-world situations. Manipulatives help them make that leap by bridging the gap between concrete objects and abstract math ideas.

Useful Manipulatives

With a little creative thought, any small object can be used as a manipulative. You can use marbles, toy foods or toy animals to sort into sets or to demonstrate the quantities different numbers represent. Use small puzzles or food-to-cut toys to teach fractions or geometric shape tiles to help teach spatial concepts. Read more …

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How To Help Your Child Develop The Right Mindset For Math

Math is a part of our lives, whether we are getting groceries at the supermarket, doing the housework at home, cooking or planning a picnic. Few of us actually realize that we are using math more often than we realize. However, it’s sad to say that many children grow to dislike math for many reasons. Working with math problems can help your child become an independent thinker, effective problem solver and one that does not give up easily when faced with challenges. Help your child develop the right mindset and attitude towards math and they will learn to appreciate it.

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Develop the right attitude

Parents can be a positive force in helping their child learn math, but they can also affect their child’s perception and attitude towards math. If you are someone who constantly say things like “Mathematic is hard”, “I don’t like math too” or “I never did well during math tests”, chances are your child will not grow to like math too. You can’t make your child love math, but you can encourage her to develop the right attitude towards math by helping her to see how mathematics can change or improve her daily life. Direct her attention to the interesting and fun things she can do with math and be mindful of what you say around your child.

Take risks

Raise a risk-taker who is not afraid to try new experiences or solve a tedious problem by themselves. When working on math questions, give your child ample time to think and try. You can also encourage him to share with you on how he derives at the answer. It is a good way to help your child reflect back on what he did to solve the questions. You can also clarify and explain further on the areas that he needs help with. This will strengthen his cognitive ability and groom him up as a problem-solver.

Make mistakes

Children and sometimes, even adults are afraid of making mistakes. The fear of failing may hinder your child’s enthusiasm to learn or try new experiences. Help your child develop a love for learning math by telling them that making mistake is a way to improve their capability. Celebrate and acknowledge when they succeed, and encourage and guide them when they failed to do it right.

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Don’t Compare

Some parents can’t help it, but compare their child to the older sibling or to their friends. When you compare your child’s performance or results with others, it will tend to diminish her confidence and develop insecurities for that subject. It doesn’t matter if your child can’t count better than your neighbour’s child. Every child is special in their own ways, your child will have something they are good at too. Tap on their interests and ability to improve their mathematical awareness. Be more patient.

Balance

If you want to help your child succeed in school, you need to strike a balance between your child’s ability and your expectations. When guiding your child, be a supportive figure that guides them to perform up to their capability without placing too much pressure on their little shoulders. How can you strike a balance without pushing your child too hard?

1. Be a parent that is involved in their learning, but never overly involved.
2. Encourage your child to improve, but don’t overly stress them out.
3. Set limits for them to achieve, but provide them with the guidance they need.
4. Be there to guide them and yet still allowing them rooms to make mistakes.

Parents are the child’s first educator, and one that understands them better than anyone else. Use a variety of fun techniques like games, engage in math related conversations and plan a series of engaging math activities to teach and talk about math. Help your child develop the right mindset and a love for learning, and it will lead them towards success!


What Are The Important Skills My Child Needs For A Smooth Learning Journey?

The development of your child in the primary school years is fundamental as it lays the foundation for formal education.

For our younger students, it is really about growing their sense of curiosity, nurturing a love for the subject, and a passion for learning. Elements of play and games are infused into classes to make lessons more fun and enjoyable.

At the same time, we will also introduce hard skills such as listening, taking instructions and communicating effectively to instil confidence in your child and prepare him for the formal learning journey ahead.

For the older students who are in the kindergarten levels, we emphasize more on honing hard skills like reading, writing and problem-solving to set them on the right course for primary school.

What Can Parents Look Forward To In SMART Early Years Programme?

At Smart Excel, the focus for our Early Years curriculum is to help your child learn better, as we know that every child has different learning needs.

IDENTIFYING YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE

For a start, our programmes expose your child to various learning styles to help him or her better grasp new concepts. A healthy balance of skills and component mastery is also introduced to your child, depending on his or her academic level.

CELEBRATING YOUR CHILD’S MANY FIRSTS

We also recognise the importance of bringing out your child’s personal bests so that he or she can become a confident learner. Whether it’s witnessing your child independently writing his or her name or seeing him or her construct his or her first full sentence, every achievement is celebrated at Smart Excel.

BRINGING THE WORLD INTO THE CLASSROOM

To encourage curiosity in the classroom, we introduce captivating, real-world content to your child from an early age. Through our English, Math and Malay (available from K1 onwards) lessons, we develop your child’s awareness of the world through a range of topics such as Technology, World Cities and Animals. With our passionate and engaging teachers bringing each lesson to life, your child can look forward to hands-on activities and fun components that will make academics seem like play.

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Our K2 students who graduate from the SMART Early Years programmes often find their transition into Primary 1 a breeze. Many of them are adequately prepared for the rigours of Primary 1, not only in terms of subject mastery, but also emotionally and mentally.

If you are interested to speak with our enrolment specialists about our programmes, please email ask@SmartExcel.sg or call us at 9457 5811 and we will be happy to assist.

Registration for our classes is ongoing. | See Schedule Register - Free Trail


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Take a Peek Into a Muslim Child’s Life with “A Boy Named Ibrahim”

The book is a great tool for teaching kids about the importance of respecting others’ religions and beliefs.
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As a parent of one young boy, I try to do my best to teach my son about cultural and religious diversity. I’d like to think that this helped me learn to be more accepting of others, and this is what I also want for my son.

However, being based in the Singapore, surrounded by people who generally look the same, speak the same language, and believe in the same things, I have been finding it extra challenging to teach my kid about diversity. My best “teaching tools” so far have been real-life experiences and children’s books.

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“A Boy Named Ibrahim”
This is why I was so pleased to discover A Boy Named Ibrahim, a children’s picture book published by Adarna House.

Written by Sitti Aminah “Flexi” Sarte and illustrated by Aaron Asis, the book is about a day in the life of Ibrahim, a Muslim boy. It shows how Ibrahim is able to pray five times a day, as is the duty of devout Muslims, even while he does what other children do, like go to school and play soccer.

A background
Sarte says she was motivated to write Ibrahim’s story because of the lack of Islamic children’s books. “At that time, I was pregnant with my eldest child and could not find any so I decided to write one,” she shares. “I was lucky… that Adarna picked up the story.”

“I hope to break stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, and inform the readers about the beauty of this religion,” Sarte adds. “When I was new to Islam, I would often be asked, ‘How can you pray five times a day?’

“Through this story, I hope that everyone can understand how easy it is — that even a young boy can perform his obligatory prayers,” she shares. “As for the Muslim child/parent, I hope that this encourages them to exercise their religion freely.”

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A parent’s perspective
Sarte has certainly achieved her goal of showing everyone how Muslims of all ages — even young children — can do their obligatory prayers through A Boy Named Ibrahim.

The repetitive phrases she uses in certain parts of the book, particularly when it’s time for Ibrahim to pray, will help children become familiar with the specific steps Muslims take before they say their prayers.

She also shows how Ibrahim relates with his parents in a loving and respectful way — something that I’d like to think is expected of all children, whether they are Muslims or not.

My favorite part, though, is when Ibrahim’s Mama talks to him about the importance of prayer:

“Remember that prayer is important to every Muslim.
The more we pray, the more we remember Allah.
The more we remember Allah, the more He remembers us.
The more He remembers us, the more He loves and showers us with blessings and mercy.”

Because of that particular paragraph, I believe that even non-Muslims like me will find the book useful in teaching children about the importance of prayer and putting God first.

It’s also a great springboard for discussions on many other topics like strengthening one’s faith, world religions, cultural minorities in the Philippines, Muslims in Mindanao and other parts of the world, to name a few.

Children and adults alike will also become familiar with Islamic/Arabic terms like Bismillah and Assalamu Alaikum. The glossary at the back of the book gives the definition of each new word, so you need not do any additional research.

Introducing different languages like Arabic in this way to my kids has also led us to touch on different subjects like Geography (we talked about countries in the Middle East) and Values Education (we talked about the importance of respecting others’ religions and beliefs).

To make the book a bit more “interactive,” the page after the glossary is an activity page, where children can draw pictures related to the story.

Last, but certainly not the least, I’m sure you and your children will delight in the colorful and lively illustrations by Aaron Asis, which are a perfect complement to Sarte’s story.

Reaching more people
When asked about her dream for A Boy Named Ibrahim, Sarte says she hopes that the book will reach Muslim countries and countries with Muslim minorities such as the Singapore. “Right now, I am very happy to say that we are in the exploratory stages of distributing internationally, God willing,” she adds.

One thing’s for sure: if and when Sarte’s dream comes true, a lot of families will certainly benefit from reading A Boy Named Ibrahim. I know because my family definitely has!

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The Day of the Exam: 15 Tips to Boost your Exam Performance

stressSo you have come all the way and tomorrow is finally the moment of truth, the day of the exam. At this stage you have studied almost all that you can study to be 100% ready for the big day. You have been planning, revising and studying and so there is little more you can do, right?

However hard you studied in the run up to exams, the most important work is yet to be done. Regardless of how much you have studied, it is possible that your exam performance may not reflect your hard work studying for hours on end. That is why we want to give you a few tips to maximise your performance on the day of the exam.

15 Tips for Succeeding on the Day of the Exam:

Exam Tip #1

Wake up early so that you do not need to rush through having breakfast and getting ready.

Exam Tip #2

Check the venue and time of the exam to make sure that you have not confused the day/time/venue.

Exam Tip #3

Have a balanced breakfast and eat nothing risky (probably not the best day to have a super-hot curry!). Bananas are always a good option.

Exam Tip #4

Before leaving home, check that you have everything that you will need – ID, stationery, map to the exam venue, etc.

Exam Tip #5

Head to the exam with plenty of time. A lot of unexpected events can happen on your way there and you do not want to be late!

Exam Tip #6

If there are people around who are panicking, avoid them. They are not doing you any favour!

Exam Tip #7

Go to the toilet before the exam starts. Exams can be quite long and there is no time to waste.

Exam Tip #8

Remember to write your name on the exam paper. You would not believe how many people have forgotten to do it!

Exam Tip #9

Read all the questions carefully before starting and quickly plan how much time to allocate to each.

Exam Tip #10

Start answering the questions that you feel most confident about. There is no need to answer the questions in order.

Exam Tip #11

If your brain freezes, just start writing anything and you will soon start remembering more details.

Exam Tip #12

Don’t spend more time than you planned on a particular section/question or you might run out of time to answer other questions and gain those extra marks! Also,  leave any questions that you are unsure about for the end.

Exam Tip #13

Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner if you are not clear on a question.

Exam Tip #14

Use every minute of the exam and if you have time left, review your answers before handing back the paper.

Exam Tip #15

Stay calm, you have done your homework. Do you BEST and LEAVE the rest to GOD!

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Student and Learning Affirmations

Today’s Thought: 

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” ~ Robert Frost

In our modern, fast-changing world, learning is no longer confined to a period of years that we call “formal education”. The world where that was possible is long gone. We don’t learn information once and it lasts us for our entire lives or careers. In fact, learning is a life-long endeavor that lasts far beyond the classroom.

Most careers require continuing education and re-education as fields change, expand, and cease to exist. Some fields change so rapidly that the information by a college freshman is out-of-date by the time that student reaches his or her junior year. This is what it means to live in the information age. We are in a constant dance with information through its conduit learning. In fact, the most successful and happiest people are those who become students of life.

They understand what Frost meant in the quote above. Frost was articulating what Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Life is the THE teacher. Experience is THE teacher. Our “teachers” and “gurus” are merely facilitators opening our hearts and our minds to be good students of these great teachers. Knowledge is just knowledge.

It is the role of the student to  be a visionary, to use knowledge to transform and transcend experience. The affirmations in this article are targeted at the student, the learner. They encompass everyone from the second-grader learning math to the student of life seeking the meaning of life. There will be more added to this list, but this is a good start.

Student General

  1. Today and every day, my thirst for learning is alive and well in me!
  2. I can learn anything! I can know anything! I can be anything!
  3. This semester is MY learning experience and I take from it what is useful to me.
  4. I love the challenge of finals! I am acing all my finals this semester.
  5. I am a student and being a student is ALL about the possible!
  6. I am a great student and getting better each and every day!
  7. Learning new things is a challenge and I love challenges!
  8. I am prepared for my tests. I love taking tests. Tests are a breeze for me.
  9. I thrive and I succeed at school! Learning is my gateway to an abundant future.
  10. When I am exposed to information that benefits me, I absorb it like a sponge!
  11. Learning is life. I love learning and I am good at it!
  12. Today I study hard, so tomorrow I can make my difference!
  13. Education is the gateway to my future! Today I make the most of my academic opportunities.
  14. Today I take charge of my education. The more I learn, the more I achieve.
  15. As my demand on my thinking grows, my learning expands.
  16. I am the engine of my learning!
  17. I am a good learner. Learning comes easy for me!
  18. My life is what I make of it and today I make it a great place to learn!
  19. Today I set aside my fears and achieve all my educational goals.
  20. I am smart and today I prove it!
  21. A great student lives within me and today that student shows up in my classes.
  22. I grow and I learn at my own pace.
  23. I value my education because it prepares me for a bright and successful future.
  24. I value my education because it creates a more complete me.
  25. This semester is MY semester! I succeeding at a whole new level!
  26. Education is the path to freedom and today I walk that path with confidence.
  27. Education is my way up! Education is my way out! Education is my way through!
  28. I am bigger than this test! I am better than this test! I AM acing this test!
  29. I contribute to the learning environment in every way that I can.
  30. I set high standards for my educational experience and I achieve them.

Student by Category

  1. Math is fun for me! Math is easy for me! Math is fun and easy for me! (Substitute class of choice)
  2. In those moments when I want to give up and quit, I remember this doctoral dissertation is a doorway to my dreams.
  3. I am easily and effortlessly gathering my research and documentation for an outstanding dissertation.
  4. I am writing a groundbreaking dissertation that receives high praise.
  5. I easily and effortlessly learning new processes at work.
  6. English to Spanish! Spanish to English! I am quickly learning and applying the Spanish I learn. (Substitute your foreign language)
  7. Uno, dos, tres. Spanish is as easy for me as one, two, three!
  8. Grad school is the gateway to my dreams. Today I am claiming my dreams!
  9. I have outstanding credentials! Any grad school would be lucky to have me!

The Seeker

  1. What is mine to teach, I willingly share. What is mine to learn, I eagerly absorb.
  2. Today I find the pearls of my enlightenment scattered along my path.
  3. Love is my teacher and life my classroom. Today I am an honor student.
  4. I am always open to learning a better way.
  5. A chance to learn is a chance to grow. I love growing!
  6. Learning from my morning, I make adjustments to my afternoon.
  7. I hear and I know. I see and I can. I DO and I achieve.
  8. Ordinary thinkers conform to the tribe. Extraordinary thinkers transform it.
  9. As I transform my thinking, I make it easier for those around me to do the same!
  10. Today I pledge to learn from what I don’t understand rather than fearing it!
  11. I learn from every experience. I grow from every experience. I thrive on every experience.
  12. I CHOOSE to move forward every day, growing and learning as I go!
  13. Today I release my either/or thinking and open my mind to new possibilities!
  14. I refuse to unconsciously become the past! I choose to consciously become the future.
  15. Whatever I need to learn always comes my way at just the right moment.
  16. Today I am choose to learn my life lessons the first time. I refuse to waste my energy learning them over and over.

Original Quotes

  1. One empowered mind changes a life. Many empowered minds transform the world.
  2. Every new experience is a new opportunity.
  3. The world is built from ideas, as surely as it’s built from atoms. The world can be transformed by rearranging either.
  4. Some days our progress is small, but our learning is much.
  5. A lesson learned is a heartache missed.
  6. A lesson learned is
  7. As an open leaf collects the morning dew, an open mind collects wisdom.
  8. An open mind opens worlds. A closed mind stifles them.
  9. An open mind is a growing mind. A closed mind is a conquered mind.
  10. An open heart opens the mind. An open mind opens the world.
  11. A closed mind gathers no light. An open mind thrives on light.
  12. Education that flows one way is conditioning, not education. True learning is always collaborative.
  13. The dogmas that you hold, hold you.
  14. A little vision takes you further, faster than a lot of knowledge.
  15. Actually, great minds don’t think alike. Great minds innovate and transform the status quo.
  16. In every moment, your thoughts are transforming your world consciously or unconsciously. It might as well be consciously.
  17. Big questions are scary things, but their answers can bring big transformation.
  18. Experts tweak the status quo. It takes visionaries to transform it.
  19. Authentic learning is about staring big truths in the face and refusing to blink when questioning them.
  20. The tribe will always conform you until you have the courage to transform you.
  21. The great learner transcends then transforms the group by pursuing truth, even at the expense of the group’s most cherished dogmas.
  22. One empowered thought is the birthplace of a life transformed.
  23. Do you create your own paradigms or are you a tenant farmer in someone eles’s paradigm?
  24. Your paradigms should serve you, not the other way around.
  25. Unless you awaken and think for yourself, those who control your paradigms will control you.
  26. Bigger thoughts change me. Bigger actions change my life. Bigger paradigms change everything.
  27. A paradigm tested by questioning is a fortress. A paradigm untested and unquestioned is a house of cards.
  28. Learning is not a period of years in your life. It is your life. The classroom never closes.

Follow your bliss. Experience your bliss. Become your bliss. – Siti

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How to Encourage Your Child to Love Learning

So your child has grown older, and you’re ready to give them a head start in getting ready with math. Well, that’s great! This article will give you some tips and ideas on how to best instruct your child while not making them fall asleep.

  • Part 1 of 4: Offering encouragement

(1) Encourage your child. What do you think would make for a more enriching class-time experience, an excited and ambitious one or a defiant, uninspired one?

(2) Keep teaching the child at a consistent pace. Sit down with them daily or at least biweekly to fuse the concepts into their minds. Never forget to keep it fun!

(3) Begin teaching your child with an interactive activity. There’s so much of options. you can use flashcards or a simple sheet of problems. Give them a handful of small objects and let them use those to count out the answers to the problems. Make sure you also have them learn to use their fingers in case no objects are available.

  • Part 2 of 4: Teaching concepts

(1) Teach concepts, not just memorization. While memorization can certainly be helpful, it’s even more helpful to have the child learn exactly how mathematical functions work. This way, they can also begin to apply their knowledge in other ways. That will help them when they begin to move on to more complicated math.

  • Make multiple activities that show how the concept works.

(2) Always make sure that your child completely understands a concept before moving on. If you skimp out on anything, it will be confusing for them and they will not be able to work as well as they should be able to when you apply it in other ways.

  • Part 3 of 4: Making math real

(1) Enhance the learning experience by playing games with the things around you. For example, ask them to say how many more pictures on the wall there is in the living room than the dining room. Have them count them both, then subtract.

(2) Continue to incorporate the concepts you’ve taught into fun things in real life. For example, measuring fractions when baking cookies, asking how many cats are at the pet store or how many showings of their new favorite movie are playing that day.

  • Bring up problems when you’re out with your child. In the grocery store, for example, ask them how much money out of $10 you’d have left if you bought green beans for $1. This will also help make the connections in their mind to help them to become better at math.

(3) Play board games. Board games with two dice rolled instead of one can be a good application for learning basic addition. When they get older, games that use play money, like Monopoly, can help them learn more about adding and subtracting money.

  • Part 4 of 4: Keeping it up

(1) Reward your child. At the end of your time sitting down to work with them, reward them somehow. Whether you give them a small piece of candy or you just hug them and express how smart they are, it will give them confidence and help them strive to do better.

(2) Don’t quit! Teaching your child math isn’t something that happens overnight. Skills need to stack up in their minds like building blocks, and while schools are a primary educator in your child’s life, you are one of the most important!

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44 Proven Ideas Parents Can Use to Help Their Children Do Better in School

DadSonReadingMaking Time Count

1. Put specific times on your calendar each week when you will spend time with your children. During that time, focus your love and attention on your child.

2. Use car time to talk with your children. There’s no phone or television to interfere. No one can get up and leave. And kids know they really have your ear.

3. Plan to eat at least one meal together as a family each day.

4. Look for things to do together as a family. Get everyone involved in choosing how to spend your time together.

5. Try giving children television tickets. Each week, each child gets 20 tickets. Each ticket can be used for 30 minutes of TV time. Any tickets remaining at the end of the week can be cashed in for 25 cents each. Parents can still veto a certain program, of course.

Reading to Your Child

6. Try relaxing your family’s bedtime rules once a week on the weekends. Let your children know that they can stay up as late as they want, as long as they are reading in bed.

7. Help your child start a home library; paperback books are fine. Encourage your child to swap books with friends. Check used book stores. Give books as gifts.

8. Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read.

9. Try holding D-E-A-R times at your house. “DEAR” stands for “Drop Everything and Read.” During DEAR time, everyone in the family sits down for some uninterrupted reading time.

10. With young children, try reading to them during bath time.

11. Use the “Rule of Thumb” to see if a book is on your children’s reading level: Have them read a page of the book aloud. Have them hold up one finger for each word they don’t know. If they hold up four fingers and a thumb before the end of the page, the book is probably too hard for them to read alone. But it might be a great book to read aloud.

Building Self-Esteem

12. Have children make a “book” about themselves, with their own illustrations and wording. “A Book About Me” is a great way to help your child see themselves as “somebody.”

13. Help your child discover their roots by talking with family members during holiday and other visits.

14. Constantly look for ways to tell your children what you like about them, and that you love them. There is no age limit on this. “When I do something well, no one ever remembers. When I do something wrong, no one ever forgets.” Those words were written by a high school dropout.

15. Let kids overhear you praising them to others.

16. Try “King/Queen for a Day” for good report cards.

17. Help kids learn from problems, not be devastated by them. Many parents don’t ever use the word “failure.” They may talk about a “glitch,” a “problem,” or a “snag.” But even when something doesn’t work out as they’d planned, successful people try to learn something from the experience.

Discipline

18. In good weather, put two angry kids on opposite sides of a strong window or glass door. Provide each with a spray bottle of window cleaner and a rag. Then let them “attack.” Their angry words will turn to laughter…and your window or door will be clean!

19. Try role playing to eliminate constant fighting. For five minutes, have the fighters switch roles. Each has to present the other person’s point of view as clearly and fairly as possible. Odds are, they’ll start laughing and make up. Better yet, they may come up with a compromise solution that both parties like.

20. For better discipline, speak quietly. If you speak in a normal tone of voice, even when you’re angry, you’ll help your child see how to handle anger appropriately. And if you don’t scream at your kids, they’re less likely to scream at each other or at you.

21. Try a “black hole” to keep toys and other belongings picked up. All you need is a closet or cabinet with a lock—the “black hole.” When something is left out that should be put away, it gets put into the “black hole” for 24 hours. Once a favorite toy or something your child needs is locked up for 24 hours, there is greater incentive to keep it where it belongs. This works best when the whole family participates.

Solving School Problems

22. Try looking over children’s study materials and making up a sample quiz as they study for upcoming tests.

23. Visit your child’s school in a time of peace before major problems develop.

24. Make report cards a positive experience. Preparation: Ask, “What do you think your report card will tell us?” Getting ready is helpful. Perspective: Understand that a report card is just one small measure of your child. A child with poor grades still has plenty of strengths. Positive action: Find something to praise. Focus on how to improve.

25. Be aware that your attitudes about school affect your child. If you hated math, be careful not to prejudice your child.

Motivating Your Child

26. In addition to the three R’s, children need the four A’s: Attention, Appreciation, Affection, and Acceptance.

27. Some researchers believe every child is gifted, if we will just look for the ways. Helping children see their giftedness is very motivating.

28. Encourage children to read biographies about successful people. As children learn about the traits that made others successful, they are often motivated to adopt those same success patterns in their own lives.

29. Motivate your children in math by challenging them to figure out how much change you should get back from a purchase. If they get the amount right, they get to keep the change.

30. Praise children constantly.

Building Responsibility

31. Try a simple cardboard box to help make your children responsible for school belongings. Have them choose a place for the box, perhaps near the door or in their room. Every afternoon, their first task should be to place all belongings in the box. When homework is finished, it goes in the box, too. In the morning, the box is the last stop before heading out the door.

32. Help children understand, and take responsibility for, the consequences of their choices: “I chose to do my homework; the result was that I got an ‘A’ on my math test.” “I chose to get up 15 minutes late; the result was that I missed breakfast and nearly missed the bus.”

33. Try giving your child the responsibility of growing a small garden, even in just a flower pot. The positive and negative results of carrying out their responsibilities are very clear.

34. One way to keep children moving in the morning: After they wake up, begin to play their favorite CD. Give them until the CD plays through to get dressed for school.

Reinforcing Learning

35. Encourage kids to collect things. Whether they collect rocks, shells, leaves, or bugs is not important. By collecting, children are learning new ways to make sense of their world.

36. Estimating is an important math skill. We estimate how much our groceries will cost. We estimate how much time we’ll need to complete a project at work. You can help your child learn to estimate at home. Here’s one idea: As you’re driving, estimate the distance to your destination. Then estimate how much time it will take to get there. Use the odometer or a map to check your work.

37. Talk about geography in terms children can understand: Go through your house and talk about where things came from. A calculator may have come from Taiwan. A box of cereal may have a Battle Creek, Mich., address, or White Plains, N.Y. Talk about where the wheat for your bread came from. Where was the cotton for your blue jeans grown? Tell your children where your ancestors came from. Find the places on a map.

38. Show your child that writing is useful. Have them help you write a letter ordering something, asking a question, etc. Then show them the results of your letter.

Homework

39. Try playing “Beat the Clock” with your child during homework time. Look over the assignment and figure out about how long it should take to complete it. Allow a little extra time and set a timer for that many minutes. No prizes are needed. There is great satisfaction in getting the work done on time.

40. Teach your child to use the formula “SQ3R” when doing any homework assignment. The letters stand for a proven five-step process that makes study time more efficient and effective: Survey, Question, Read, Restate, and Review.

41. Here are tips to make homework time easier for you and your child:

  • Have a regular place for your child to do homework. Use a desk or table in a quiet room. Be sure there’s plenty of light.
  • Find a regular time for homework. You may want to make a rule: “No television until homework is finished.”
  • During homework time, turn off the TV and radio.
  • Help your children plan how they will use their time.
  • Set a good example. While your child is doing homework, spend some time reading or working yourself. Then when homework is done, you can both talk about how much you’ve accomplished.

42. Nitty gritty homework tips:

  • Do the most difficult homework first. Save “easy” subjects for when your child is tired.
  • Do the most important assignments first. If time runs short, the priorities will be finished. Do what’s required first.
  • Finish the optional assignments later, even if they’re more fun.

43. Look over your child’s homework every day. Start at an early age and keep it up as long as you can. Praise good work. Your interest will encourage good work.

44. Try having your child teach you the homework. The teacher always learns more than the student.

Author: Dr. John H. Wherry. 
Source: The Parent Institute.

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Four Habits of Highly Effective Math Teaching

If you were asked what were the most important principles in mathematics teaching, what would you say? I wasn’t really asked, but I started thinking and came up with these basic habits or principles that can keep your math teaching on the right track.

  • Habit 1: Let It Make Sense
  • Habit 2: Remember the Goals
  • Habit 3: Know Your Tools
  • Habit 4: Living and Loving Math

math-skills-and-anxiety-3-728


Habit 1: Let It Make Sense

Let us strive to teach for understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures, the “why” something works, and not only the “how”.

This understanding, as I’m sure you realize, doesn’t always come immediately. It may take even several years to grasp a concept. For example, place value is something children understand partially at first, and then that deepens over a few years.

This is why many math curricula use spiraling: they come back to a concept the next year, the next year, and the next. This can be very good if not done excessively (for 5-6 years is probably excessive).

However, spiraling has pitfalls also: if your child doesn’t get a concept, don’t blindly “trust” the spiraling and think, “Well, she gets it the next year when the book comes back around to it.”

The next year’s schoolbook won’t necessarily present the concept at the same level – the presentation might be too difficult. If a child doesn’t “get it”, they might need very basic instruction for the concept again.

The “how” something works is often called procedural understanding: the child knows how to work long division or knows the procedure for fraction addition. It is often possible to learn the “how” mechanically without understanding why something works. Procedures learned this way are often forgotten very easily.

The relationship between the “how” and the “why” – or between procedures and concepts – is complex. One doesn’t always come totally before the other, and it also varies from child to child. And, conceptual and procedural understanding actually help each other: conceptual knowledge (understanding the “why”) is important for the development of procedural fluency, while fluent procedural knowledge supports the development of further understanding and learning.

Try alternating the instruction: teach how to add fractions, and let the student practice. Then explain why it works. Go back to some practice. Back and forth. Sooner or later it should ‘stick’ – but it might be next year instead of this one, or after 6 months instead of this month.

As a rule of thumb, don’t totally leave a topic until the student both knows “how” and understands the “why”.

Tip: you can often test a student’s understanding of a topic by asking him to produce an example, preferably with a picture or other illustration: “Tell me an example of multiplying a fraction by a whole number, and draw a picture of it.” Whatever gets produced can tell the teacher a lot about what has been understood.


Habit 2: Remember the Goals

What are the goals of your math teaching? Are they…

  • to finish the book by the end of school year
  • make sure the kids pass the test …?

Or do you have goals such as:

  • My student can add, simplify, and multiply fractions
  • My student can divide by 10, 100, and 1000.

These are all just “subgoals”. But what is the ultimate goal of learning school mathematics?

Consider these goals:

  • Students need to be able to navigate their lives in this ever-so-complex modern world.
    This involves dealing with taxes, loans, credit cards, purchases, budgeting, and shopping. Our youngsters need to be able to handle money wisely. All that requires a good understanding of parts, proportions, and percents.
  • Another very important goal of mathematics education as a whole is to enable the students to understand information about us. In today’s world, this includes quite a bit of scientific information. Being able to read through it and make sense of it requires knowing big and small numbers, statistics, probability, and percents.
  • And then one more. We need to prepare our students for further studies in math and science. Not everyone ultimately needs algebra, but many do, and teens don’t always know what profession they might choose or end up with.
  • I’d like to add one more broad goal of math education: teaching deductive reasoning. Of course, high school geometry is a good example of this, but when taught properly, other areas of school math can be as well.
  • Then one more goal that I personally feel fairly strongly about: let students see some beauty of mathematics and to learn to like it, or at the very least, make sure they don’t feel negative about mathematics.

The more you can keep these big real goals in mind, the better you can connect your subgoals to them. And the more you can keep the goals and the subgoals in mind, the better teacher you will be.

For example, adding, simplifying, and multiplying fractions all connect with the broader goal of understanding parts or part and whole relationships. It will soon lead to ratios, proportions, and percent. Also, all fraction operations are a necessary basis for solving rational equations and for the operations with rational expressions (in an algebra course).

Tying in with the goals, remember that the BOOK or CURRICULUM is just a tool to achieve the goals — not a goal in itself. Don’t ever be a slave to any math book.


Habit 3: Know Your Tools

A math teacher’s tools are quite numerous nowadays.

First of all, of course, comes a black or whiteboard, or paper – something to write on, pencil, compass, protractor, ruler, eraser.
And the book you’re using.

Then we also have computer software, animations and activities online, animated lessons and such.

There are workbooks, fun books, worktexts, online texts.

Then all the manipulatives, abacus, measuring cups, scales, algebra tiles, and so on. And then there are games, games, games.

The choices are so numerous it’s daunting. What’s a teacher to do?

Well, you just have to start somewhere, probably with the basics, and then add to your “toolbox” little by little as you have the opportunity.

There is no need to try ‘hog’ it all at once. It’s important to learn how to use any tool you might acquire. Quantity won’t equal quality. Knowing a few “math tools” inside out is more beneficial than a mindless dashing to find the newest activity to spice up your math lessons.

Basic tools

  1. The board and/or paper to write on. Essential. Easy to use.
  2. The book or curriculum. Choosing a math curriculum is often difficult for homeschoolers. Check my curriculum pages for some help. Two things to keep in mind:
    1. No matter what book you’re using, YOU as the teacher have the control. Don’t be a slave to the curriculum. You can skip pages, rearrange the order in which to teach the material, supplement it, and so on.
    2. Don’t despair if the book you’re using doesn’t seem to be the perfect choice for your student. You can quite likely sell it on homeschool swap boards and buy some other one.
  3. Manipulatives are physical objects the student manipulates with his hands to get a better grasp of some concept.I once saw a question asked by a homeschooling parent, on the lines, “What manipulatives must I use and when?” The person was under the impression that manipulatives are a “must”.Manipulatives are definitely stressed in these days. They are usually very recommendable, but they’re not the final goal of math education, and there is no need to over-emphasize them. The goal is to learn to do the math without them.

    Some very helpful manipulatives are:

    • a 100-bead basic abacus
    • base ten blocks or something to illustrate tens & ones in kindergarten and first grade. I made my daughter “tea-bags” by putting marbles into little plastic bags, and they worked perfectly for teaching place value.
    • some kind of fraction manipulatives. You can simply make pie models out of cardboard.

    Often, drawing pictures can take place of manipulatives, especially after the first elementary grades.

  4. Geometry and measuring tools, such as ruler, compass, protractor, scales, and measuring cups. These are of course essential teaching tools. (Note though that dynamic geometry software can in these days replace compass and ruler constructions done on paper and actually be even better.)


Habit 4: Living and Loving Math

You are the teacher. You show the way – also with your attitudes, your way of life.

Do you use math often in your daily life? Is using mathematical reasoning, numbers, measurements, etc. a natural thing to you every day?

And then: do you like math? Love it? Are you happy to teach it? Enthusiastic?

Both of these tend to show up in how you teach, but especially so in a homeschooling environment, because at home you’re teaching your children a way of life and whether math is a natural part of it or not.

Math is not a drudgery, nor something just confined to math lessons.

Some ideas:

  • Let it make sense. This alone can usually make quite a difference and students will stay interested.
  • Read through some fun math books, such as Theoni Pappas books or puzzle books. Get to know some interesting math topics besides just schoolbook arithmetic. There are lots of storybooks (math readers) that teach math concepts.
  • Consider including some math history if you have the time.
  • When you use math in your daily life, explain how you’re doing it, and include the children if possible. Figure it out together.

I hope these ideas will help you in your math teaching!

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Positive Reinforcement or Damaging Declarations?

compliments_graphics_07Good job! Nice coloring! “Good swinging!”

Adoring our children with love and praise couldn’t be a bad thing, could it?

Well, it mostly depends on why we’re doing it. Positive reinforcement with toddlers is practically instinctual. “Good job!” is a phrase my husband and I often exclaimed, usually after our daughter had done something rather benign and developmentally appropriate, but to us was the most brilliant thing in the world.

You know, like when she put on her shoes by herself or her pants – even though they were backwards. It proved an amazing feat of concentration and we just wanted to show her that we were proud of her so that she would know that we loved her no matter what!

Surprisingly, that’s not the totality of what is being conveyed with the use of praise. Good-Job

I don’t mean to criticize the loving intuitive expressions of appreciation and excitement – only to examine the praise we use to manipulate our kids into repeating a desired behavior.

Sure we think it’s great that Sam just shared his toys and it was exciting that Mia cleaned up her room without asking but how we share our appreciation can be tricky.

With general or overused praise – the overriding message that kids hear, see and understand is “People like when I do this and that makes me feel good.”

I know it seems inconsequential. A “Good job eating all your dinner!”  – here or a “You’re such a good girl for helping!”  – there, especially with our young ones, seems innocuous.

Positive reinforcement appears to be the most popular and effective form of toddler discipline, next to distraction – especially when faced with a time consuming search for alternatives to the more assertive discipline methods.

But, studies show again and again that kids who are praised for their behaviors tend to become more hesitant and unsure of themselves, less interested in trying new things, and worse, they actually lose interest in the activity they were previously praised for – once the praise stops coming.

Now I am not suggesting that our children are doomed because we cheered every and every hand-washing and tied shoelace.

But, please consider the very real possibility that children will become less likely to share of their own accord, feel empathy, or continue playing piano, reading or finishing any activity if they are fielding and filing a constant stream of performance evaluations.

More and more research shows that by providing extrinsic motivation we risk decreasing the likelihood that our children will fully develop their own passionate desire or internal motivation. The problem is that when external motivators are offered, children learn to assess their own value and interest on something they can’t control: external rewards and the approval of others.

Judgment, whether positive or negative, creates children who come to rely on that verbal incentive and to look for it unnecessarily for their own self-guidance. It can affect their motivation to take interest in anything wholeheartedly or complete a task without verbal encouragement or tangible rewards.

I do not mean to discount the beneficial aspects of “positive discipline” nor do I mean to bemoan all praise and rewards. To exclaim your heart-felt excitement the first time your toddler puts on her shoes by herself is a perfectly legitimate reaction but to blurt out “Good Job!” as a knee-jerk response to the most negligible of activities (eating, drinking, coloring, jumping, swinging) in hopes [however unconscious] that our children will repeat the desired action in the future is detrimental to their overall ability to learn and self-motivate.

When the praise stops coming, kids stop trying. Eliminate the praise and teach your kids how to find joy and satisfaction in the experience of things, not just the outcomes.

Ask yourself: Are my responses are rooted in love and encouragement or are they self-serving and evaluative?

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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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How to Help Our Child to Overcome Exam Syndrome

stressStudents are often faced with a series of exams or tests at the end of term or semester, which are usually scheduled closely together. This can lead to great stress for students – and those who live with them! The words stress and pressure are often used interchangeably but in fact, they are quite different. Pressure can be positive and useful to complete deadlines or to help somebody avoid danger. However, when pressure is prolonged, it can become negative, and depend on how the individual perceives it and reacts to it, it can lead to the development of stress. This Hot Topic offers information and ideas on how to help our child or young person manage exam stress.

What is exam stress?

For some people, the increased pressure around exam time may lead to them experiencing stress symptoms much more readily than others. Stress can be defined as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them’. It varies from person to person and in many ways a stress response is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or that upset your balance in some way. However, we do know that prolonged stress can lead to illness, both mental and physical.

What causes exam stress?

Exam stress is a natural reaction to pressure caused by a number of factors including:

  • Inability to accept failure or uncertainty
  • Pessimism or negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations (either of the student or the parents)
  • Unpreparedness
  • Life transitions
  • Family issues and/or relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Performance anxiety.

What are the known impacts of exam stress?

When a person is stressed over something, their body reacts accordingly. If adequate approaches for managing extreme exam stress aren’t developed it can have negative results including lower grades than anticipated or required. Over the long term, various physical health problems such as digestive problems, eczema, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety or depression could develop.

What can you expect to see if your child has exam stress?

Some people feel pressure and develop stress symptoms more than others. Stress responses can differ between males and females as well, with research showing females present internal symptoms and responses such as nausea, butterflies, and feelings of inadequacy which can lead to sadness and depression. Males tend to externalize their anxiety and can become increasingly irritable or angry.

When someone is faced with increased pressure (in this case at exam time) their body can go into a ‘fight or flight’ response which releases increased amounts of adrenaline into the body. This can lead to various symptoms including:

  • Feeling cranky and irritable (increased yelling or crying, swearing, hitting)
  • Indecisiveness and/or confusion
  • Problems with going to sleep or getting up in the morning
  • Strongly beating heart, sweating
  • Mild chest pains, back pains, nausea, trembling, shortness of breath
  • Minor stomach upsets
  • Possible skin breakouts
  • Teeth grinding, nail-biting and fidgeting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Going blank in the exam.

If exam stress or stress, in general, is not resolved responsibly, it can lead to more serious problems like:

  • Increased smoking, drinking or drug use (for teenage and above)
  • Losing touch with friends
  • Feeling inadequate, negative self-talk, blaming.

What influences a person’s stress tolerance level? 

Support network – A young person experiencing exam stress will have a better response to stress if supported by parents or other caring adults.

A sense of control – Having a sense of control over what to expect on the day, what to learn and ways to systematically revise will assist a young person to manage their exam stress.

Positive attitude and outlook – Assist them to see the bright side, to laugh at themselves and to appreciate the positives in life. People who are resilient to stressors have an optimistic attitude.

Preparation – The more a young person prepares for a stressful situation, such as an exam, the easier it is to cope. A student’s stress level is often influenced by the amount of preparation and planning they have put into studying towards a particular exam and how confident they feel about the material they are to be tested on.

What can parents and carers do about exam stress?

One of the best things parents or carers can do if their child is experiencing exam stress is to try to be as supportive and tolerant as possible.

We’ve put together a list of strategies that may help young people to manage exam stress. We’ve also included some tips on how to help your child deal with stress on and after the exam day.

Effective study and learning habits

Parents and carers can help reduce the exam stress of their child by helping them establish effective study and learning habits:

  • Help your child find a quiet place to study without distractions. Make sure their table is uncluttered so they can focus better.
  • Encourage your child to find out exactly what the test involves – are there past test papers they can look at to help them understand what to expect?
  • Encourage your child to ask for help or ask their teacher for clarity if they are unsure of something or if they feel confused.
  • Help them to make ‘mind maps’ to collect ideas and summarise thoughts – use bright colors to help remember important links.
  • Help them to plan their study schedule early on so they have sufficient time to study. It can be helpful to develop a clear, realistic plan of what they want to cover in each study session. Can they break it down into small chunks?
  • Remind your child to take a short rest and move around in between each part of their study.
  • Offer help sometimes. It can be useful having someone to listen or practice with.

Healthy sleeping and eating habits

  • Encourage your child to stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time. They need to avoid late night TV shows or movies.
  • Motivate them to eat regularly and make time to have fun and exercise.
  • Help them to cut back on coffee or any other stimulants which they may be using, as these can increase agitation. Encourage them to drink lots of water instead.
  • Remind them to take time out when they eat, rather than carrying on with the study.
  • Encourage them to eat fresh fruit, veggies, cereals, grains, nuts, and protein – they are all good for the brain and blood sugar levels.
  • Encourage them to eat when they get hungry. This keeps blood sugar and hydration levels steady.
  • Avoid junk food if possible. It will bring a sudden sugar high which will fall away quickly, leaving a person feeling tired.

Relaxation ideas to help your child cope with exam stress

  • Always encourage your child to relax before they go to bed after concentrating for long periods of time. Activities such as reading a short story may help them unwind and sleep better.
  • Encourage them to go out for a walk, run or do some other exercise they enjoy.
  • Teach them relaxation techniques such as listening to some gentle music, getting them to lie down, closing their eyes and taking a deep breath while visualizing a calming scene such as a deserted beach.
  • Help your child to develop a positive mindset by encouraging them to visualize success – this can really help with self-confidence.[12]
  • Avoid rushing on the day of the exam by organizing and packing everything they need to take with them the night before.

Ideas for exam day

Talk about these ideas before exam day so as not to add to anxiety levels.

Suggest to your child that they:

  • Eat a good and light breakfast – something that will sustain them and help them concentrate.
  • Try to arrive at school or the exam venue early.
  • Go to the toilet before the exam starts.
  • Keep away from people who may agitate them before the test or may say unhelpful, anxiety-provoking comments.
  • Try writing about their thoughts and feelings at least 10 minutes before the exam to free up brainpower from focusing on emotions so they can focus on the test material instead.
  • Take time to slow their breathing and relax when they first sit down in the exam room.
  • Skim over the exam paper, underlining key words and instructions.
  • Work out how long they have to each question or section.
  • Watch out for the wording of the questions – they need to understand and address what the question is really asking.
  • Answer the questions they find easiest first to build their confidence, then as they relax more move on to more difficult ones.
  • Don’t worry about how long others are taking but keep an eye on the clock to ensure they have enough time to answer the more difficult questions.
  • Re-read answers if possible and make any changes that are necessary – correct spelling, check workings.

Post-exam tip

If your child is not able to do well in the exam and they feel very upset about it, reassure them that there is always a second chance and passing an exam is only part of the story. It may be helpful to take some time to discuss any problems they had so they can avoid them next time.

Who else can help?

You may wish to contact your local parenting help service/s for further information and help.