This write up should be provided to all parents at start of the session:
Helping your child learn
To introduce learning opportunities into daily home life, think about these points:
- Ensure that your child is in the mood to learn. For example, don’t chose the end of the week when you are both tired
- Introduce information that is of interest to them – don’t assume they’re interested in what you are. Link learning to an existing hobby and use the subject matter to steer you. If you can link information to a child’s existing memory bank, that’ll help them learn
- Make the information relevant to the child. For example, they may hate maths and see it as pointless, but what about helping them to manage a budget when they go and buy a CD or computer game?
- Make learning sessions fun and not overly long so it doesn’t feel like a chore
- Repeat things – three short blasts at learning work better than one long one
- Use the approach that suits your child, not you
- Allow your child to sleep on learning, so information is better embedded in the brain, and review it again in the morning
- Using all a child’s senses will help them learn, and make it more fun.
Encouraging your children to learn is a wonderful thing. But do remember they also need ‘downtime’ – it’s just as important for educational development as structured learning – so give your children some space, and don’t be a hyperactive parent!
How children learn
Using a variety of learning styles, you can help children of all ages to absorb information and become curious about the world around them.
Parents are a child’s most important teacher, and the home can be the best learning environment.
Here are some ways to help them learn at home and a look at how your child learns.
We all learn differently
Children learn in a variety of ways – do you know your child’s learning style?
Knowing the most effective route to learning can make it easier, more effective and take less effort. There is no point pushing information through one route when using a different way can increase a child’s ability to absorb stuff by more than 50%!
What do we mean by learning styles? Well, do you read the instructions to work the video recorder or do you push and press the buttons until it all works? Are you better remembering the pictures in a magazine rather than the words? Do you need to write notes to remember things – and do you keep them afterwards or do you throw them away, because it’s the action of writing it down which helps you remember?
What’s your child’s learning style?
An early appreciation of your child’s preferential learning style can help you encourage them to learn when you’re working with them at home. It is also important to be aware of your own style – it might conflict with your child’s.
Have a look at the four learning styles and see what yours is (or are – you may favour a mixture) – and then assess your child’s style. How does your child vary from you and how can you use your strengths and theirs in a complementary way to help them learn at home?
Psychologists have categorized learning styles in lots of ways, but here’s one way of looking at things, with four styles to choose from:
1. Visual learner
- Needs and likes to visualize things
- Learns through images – can remember the pictures on a page
- Enjoys art and drawing
- Reads maps, charts and diagrams well
- Interested in machines and inventions
- Plays with Lego and other construction toys, and likes jigsaw puzzles.
- Can be a daydreamer in class.
To encourage this type of thinking:
- Use board games and memory games to create visual patterns
- Suggest visual clues when reading together – let your child ‘paint’ their own mind pictures as they read the story
- Offer picture books of all types, even as they get older
- Encourage visualisation of story and reinforce this at intervals
- Encourage writing through using different colours of writing
- Teach ‘mind mapping’ techniques to older children, to help them learn and recall complex information
- show videos of plays, films etc to reinforce the stories they are studying.
2. Kinesthetic learner
- Processes knowledge through physical sensations
- Highly active, not able to sit still long
- Communicates using body language and gestures
- Shows you rather than tells you
- Wants to touch and feel the world around them
- May be good at mimicking others
- Enjoys sports or other activities where they can keep moving.
To encourage this type of thinking:
- Movement helps these children – allow them to move around after a time while studying
- Chewing gum, being able to doodle or fiddle with something like beads can help them concentrate
- Use hands-on activities and experiments, art projects, nature walks or acting out stories, so they ‘feel’ the activities
- Avoid things they don’t like – long range planning, complicated projects, paper & pencil tasks, workbooks.
3. Auditory learner
- thinks in words and verbalizes concepts
- spells words accurately and easily, as they can hear the different sounds – so tends to learn phonetically rather than through ‘look and say’ techniques.
- Can be a good reader, though some prefer the spoken word
- Has excellent memory for names, dates and trivia
- Likes word games
- Enjoys using tape recorders and often musically talented
- Usually able to learn their times tables with relative ease.
To encourage this type of thinking:
- Encourage them to create their own word problems
- Get them to dictate a story to you and watch while you write/type it out
- Read aloud together and tape session for later playback
- Buy or borrow books-on-tape for them
- For older children, record information on tapes.
4. Logical learner
- Thinks conceptually, likes to explore patterns and relationships
- Enjoys puzzles and seeing how things work
- Constantly questions and wonders
- Likes routine and consistency
- Capable of highly abstract forms of logical thinking at early age
- Does mental arithmetic easily
- Enjoys strategy games, computers and experiments with a purpose
- Creates own designs to build with blocks/Lego
- Not so good at the more ‘creative’ side.
To encourage this type of thinking:
· Do science experiments together and get them to record the results.
· Use computer learning games and word puzzles.
· Introduce non-fiction and rhyming books.
Parenting for good behavior
We all want our children to behave well at home, as well as at school, and make a positive contribution to family life.
Here are a few key things you can do as a parent, even when your children are very small. They will encourage your children to feel positive about themselves and to promote good behavior – which doesn’t mean letting them do what they want all the time, but setting boundaries and disciplining in a useful way. It’s about the way you behave to create the right environment and build a good relationship with your children.
If you are having problems with the way a child is behaving, you may decide to start a new regime where rules are set and you monitor their – and your – progress. It’s a good idea to keep your partner, grandparents or close friends in on your plans, and get their perspective and help on things, and on your progress. You may choose to do this when the child is not around, but sometimes it will help your child if they hear you praising their progress to people who matter. Talk to teachers too, and tell them what you are trying to achieve. They may be able to work with you for a concerted effort at home and school.
Good, clear communication is vital:
- Do you tell your child what you want him or her to do and when, or expect them to know?
- When you’re talking to a child about their behaviour, be clear and precise. Suggest a strategy to achieve the action, rather than giving them a telling-off.
- Are your expectations too great for the age of your child?
- Have things changed in parenting since you were a child? Explaining and involving, rather than ordering, is seen now as the best way of doing things.
- Talk to other parents and ask them how they handle situations.
- Involve the whole family in decisions, so they all feel valued.
- Ring-fence time for each of your children – each one needs your time. Even five minutes of protected time can feel special for a child when they are being listened to.
- When you set aside special time, decide when it’ll happen and stick to your plans.
Show you love them:
- love for a child needs to be unconditional, and not dependent on how the child has behaved.
- Tell your child that you love them, and it’s their behaviour that you don’t like, NOT them. In other words, separate the deed from the person.
- Do you tell your child how you feel about them? Everyone needs to hear it from time to time
- Your child will feel good if they are told that they are good.
- Don’t compare your child’s actions to others – judge them against their own behaviour and achievement. In particular, don’t compare siblings to one another- otherwise you’ll start a competition that can’t be won!
- Focus on the good. It’s easy to concentrate only on bad behaviour – but ‘good’ behaviour may be just something your child does that is only half way right, but the effort they make to try should always be praised. Sometimes general good behaviour is hard to see, so look for it, however small.
- Ignore the bad, unless unsafe – with small children, making a fuss about bad behaviour gives them attention, which is what they want, and they’ll repeat the behaviour.
- Praise as soon as you see positive behaviour so this encourages more. Ask your child how they could do things better, so they are involved in making decisions about their behaviour.
- Praise should be sincere, specific and immediate, and make the child feel valued by you.
- Create some house rules. What is reasonable? What is important to you? Don’t try to have 100 rules for everything, it just causes confusion for you and your child – and you’ll forget them. Write down a few key things that are important as things are now.
- Make sure they know what the house ‘rules’ are, and make the boundaries explicit – don’t assume your child will know what they are.
- Discuss with them what will happen if they break the rules. You could allow the child to choose the consequences of their actions (‘What do you think your punishment should be if you do xyz?’) – often they’ll consider far worse punishments than you would!
- Rules are for all the house to keep – not just the naughty child, who needs to see that the rules are for all.
Telling off, punishment and reward
where punishing a child is concerned, act on what is appropriate for each child, not on what is ‘fair’ for all – you can’t win that one! Every child has different strengths and weaknesses, so different approaches may be required for each child for their specific behaviour. Consider whether to reward or deny – sometimes rewarding one child for a small improvement has the same effect as punishing another.
- Don’t tell your child off in front of peers or siblings.
- Never humiliate your child in public – they’ll only resent you. Remember, the way you discipline needs to build their self-esteem, not knock it back.
- Try removing them from a situation where they are behaving badly, so they have time to gain control and composure.
- Recognise the early signs of an explosion, and try to head it off before it happens.
- Give ‘time out’ rather than keeping on arguing.
- If you are grounding a child, chose an appropriate time that you can keep to and that is fair in comparison to the behaviour.
- Work towards gaining privileges, or reward in a more direct way. With a small child, try a star chart for good behaviour – this can sometimes work for a period of time, but do make sure there are achievable goals so they get their stars. For older children, a point system can work if they are saving up towards an item – but again, make it achievable.
You will be inconsistent! But try to be consistently inconsistent – that’s normal!
- If your partner lives at home, try to form a united front where discipline is concerned. You both need to follow the same rules for coping with your children (it’s no good one of you being very strict and the other very lax)
- Don’t argue in front of a child about how you should deal with their problems/poor behaviour.
- Make sure grandparents or other relatives/close friends are in on the rules, so that the system doesn’t fall down when your child goes to stay with them.
- Be a role model. Are you a ‘Do as I say’ or ‘Do as I do’ person? If your child doesn’t see good behaviour in you, why should they do what you say?
- Do we expect different rules and reactions from children and adults? For example, do you shout and swear when you’re angry, but prefer your children not to act in the same way? What better strategies could you use so you and your children can diffuse their anger?
It takes at least 30 days to change a habit that has taken months or even years to form, so if you’re changing the way you behave with your children, be patient.
- Don’t try to change too many areas at one time – we often expect too much and too soon and then are disappointed when we don’t see improvements at a fast enough pace.
- Set small achievable goals for you and your child.
- Know that at times it will all go wrong, but that you can get things back on track soon.
- Decide what is important rather than urgent. Be flexible about how you are going to change – you may need to adapt as you go along.
- Tell the child when it’s not working and involve them in deciding on something different.
- Keep a diary – this is often a good way of seeing small changes over a period of time.
- Reward your child for improvement, and yourself for success!
It’s good to talk
The best way of helping your children to do well in school is probably the most enjoyable: the more time you spend talking with them, the more they’ll grow in confidence and the more practice they’ll have in speaking and listening. These are skills which are vital in all areas of the curriculum. Keeping the talk going is also a good plan when it comes to living with teenagers.
Family life is usually full of endless and hurried chatter, but it’s a good idea to find regular opportunities to sit down with your children just to talk. Sometimes, these sessions should be family pow-wows with everyone having a say; sometimes you should give an individual child your undivided attention. And don’t worry – you’ll find plenty of things to talk about.
If you make these talk-ins a regular feature of family life when your children are still young, you’ll probably find it much easier to communicate with them when they reach their teenage years. If you’ve got teenage children who can natter for hours on the phone to their friends but can barely manage a few mumbled monosyllables when you try to make conversation with them, what should you do? Persevere. Retain your sense of humour. Remember what you were like when you were their age. And if you want some impertinent advice, see What if your children don’t want to talk to you…
Perhaps there was a time when schools believed that silence was golden, but it’s certainly not true today. Along with reading and writing, the fundamental skills of speaking and listening are given a high priority at all age levels and across the curriculum.
In school your child will be expected to:
- listen attentively to instruction and advice from teachers.
- contribute voluntarily to class discussions.
- address the whole class, if only occasionally, on a chosen topic.
- collaborate and co-operate with class mates in various forms of group work.
- answer teachers’ questions fluently. This feedback is the most effective way the teacher has of checking how well a pupil understands.
· have the confidence to ask the teacher questions when the need arises.
Vishal Jain / J.k.Singh