3 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Attitude Towards Learning

by

 4 minute read

It’s the teachers’ job to do the teaching right? Nope, not entirely! 

Some of my earliest memories include sitting with my ouma at the kitchen table learning how to tell time, using a makeshift clock that she had fashioned using some paper and lots of coloured crayons, memories of my mom coming home after work to find the two of us, still in pyjamas, playing or reading. We tend to underestimate those early memories and activities, but that is where my love of learning and reading came from – quality time.

Lots of parents don’t have the luxury of staying home with their children, and they often don’t have the support of family members. So, what happens? Children are sent to a crèche from a very early age, where the teachers ‘take over’ teaching our children everything there is to know about life. Here’s the thing – that’s just not enough.

During my teaching career, I had so many parents telling me that teaching their child was my job, and my job alone. “Isn’t that what you’re paid to do?” was a constant refrain at parents’ evenings. A teacher’s job is to try their best to help your child reach their full potential. A lot of that is based on your child and their attitude to learning. Where do they learn this attitude? At home from their parents, and from their peers. So what can you do to help?

1. Be interested in your child’s life

I know that most of you lead very busy lives, and that finding time to spend quality time with your children can be extremely difficult, but it is essential. Ask your child about their day at school, and really listen to their answers. Ask questions like:

  • “What did you learn at school today?”
  •  “What was the best (or worst) thing about your day?”
  • If they wrote a test or exam, “Which questions do you feel great about? Which question, or questions, did you struggle with the most?”

Take the time to actually look at their homework. They do have homework – even if they tell you they don’t. Ask your child to tell you more about their favourite subject, and offer help wherever you can.

CAPS Worksheets and Practice Exams

2. Create a love of learning

Children often perceive school and learning as boring, and as something they are forced to do. However, once a thirst for knowledge has been created, it will be very difficult to quench!

  • Lead by example. You are your child’s first and most important role model. Share your interests and passions with them. If they can see that you are yearning to learn more about something, they will be more willing to explore their own interests and passions.
  • Expose your child to different experiences. How else will they find their interests and passions? Take them to the zoo, museums, music concerts or the theatre. Get them a library card and let them explore the many books and topics libraries have to offer.
  • Read, read, read! My favourite author, J.K. Rowling, said, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” Reading brings so much joy and magic to a child’s life, not to mention it also expands vocabulary, relieves stress and improves concentration and memory. All it takes is one book, and your child will be hooked for life.
  • Be supportive and encouraging. You might not always like what your child finds interesting, but shooting something down just because you aren’t interested in it could set your child back immensely. As long as it is not harmful or inappropriate, encourage your child to continue learning more and more about their interests.

Encourage your child to always do their best, and let them know that their best will always be good enough. If your expectations are too high, their love of learning will diminish, making their marks even worse.

South African CAPS Worksheets

3. Teach your child to work independently

“Mommy/Daddy! I’m stuck!” is a phrase that most parents hear constantly while their children are doing homework. With our lives being as busy as they are, it is sometimes much easier to just give them the answer and return to whatever we were busy with before. This, however, teaches your child that someone will eventually give them the right answer and that they don’t need to challenge themselves to find the answer. At the end of the day, this could set them up for misery.

So many children are petrified of seeing a little red cross in their school books or tests, so they are afraid to try, lest they give the dreaded ‘wrong answer’. Teach your child that a wrong answer is an opportunity to get it right next time, and that the people who love them will not care if they give an incorrect answer now and then. Encourage them to try. Try and solve that pesky Maths problem. Try to read and answer that difficult Afrikaans comprehension. Try, try, and then try again.

As difficult as it may be, don’t just give them the right answer when they ask for it. Sit with them and encourage them to find the answer themselves. Help them by nudging them in the right direction, but don’t make it too easy!

When your child leaves school, and goes on to university, college or their first job, they will thank you for encouraging them to challenge themselves. Working independently is a crucial skill that your child needs to be successful.

CAPS Revision and Studying
If you haven’t done any of this yet, don’t panic! It’s never too late to take an interest in your child’s education. Start as soon as you get home today!

I’m very interested to hear how you go the extra mile in helping your child learn at home. Post your comments, suggestions and questions below. I personally read and answer every comment.

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About the Author

Megan is a former teacher and one of our many awesome curriculum authors here at LLA! She is a soon-to-be mom of two and is always smiling from ear to ear.

30 Comments

  1. Noble

    Thank you Megan. As a teacher, I totally agree with you. When parents encourage children to love learning, It creates a synergistic effect that brings the best results. A positive attitude towards learning is planted at home. Teachers will have a good starting point!

    Reply
    • Madeleine

      Dear Megan. As a parent i can see that my child has the potential. Shes a fast learner but to socialize is a big problem for her. Her teacher ask me if possible can they hold her back next year. It breaks my heart cause her marks was 40% pass. What can i do to improve her skills

      Reply
      • Ross Frank

        Hi Madeleine! I’m sorry to hear about her problem. Sometimes we have to remember that school is more than academics. It is about development physically, emotionally and mentally, “holistic development’ so to speak. A good starting point would be to help your child practice assessing and interacting with the information they are covering in class. This means sitting down in a set area (a ‘homework’ area, anywhere distracting factors are removed like T.V, other siblings, too much noise etc.), and reading and working through the topics covered that day. The more they practice engaging and retrieving the information, and then expressing their thoughts and understanding, the better. Also, talk to her as often as you can, discuss topics that relate to her like “Justin Bieber” to help her communicate clearer. You should also maybe consider signing her up for extracurricular activities such as drama club or sports.

        Do not lose hope, all she needs is a little push in the right direction and you are already doing such a great job!

        Ross 🙂

        Reply
    • Misozi

      Thank you Megan. This is very insightful for me as a parent.
      I have tried to participate in my child’s school work, and the more I do that, the more they try harder.
      My problem is that my children have sort of stopped reading story books. Sometimes they get a lot of homework and don’t have time to read. But sometimes they don’t have the time to pick up a book and read. How can I get them interested in reading again?

      Reply
      • Ross Frank

        Hi Misozi! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts insightful! The great thing about reading is that there is not any “specified” material that has to be read. Reading can be done informally too (besides a book). There are so many reading resources on the internet including WorksheetCloud. Also, reading should be something they can relate to, so make it fun and enjoyable, you can for example let them read music lyrics or information on their favorite celebrity. I hope this helps.

        Ross 🙂

        Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Noble! Thanks for your awesome comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts useful. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  2. Gail Jagger

    Thanks Megan. I’m a parent if three kids one is done with school and the two small one’s are grade 3 and 4. Thanks for advising that I’m on the right track as it’s not easy to fit in everything today. I spend a our a hour and half with them to do or check homework when they come from aftercare. I focus a bit more on my son as he doubt himself to much. How can I improve that for him.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Gail! Firstly, you are doing a great job, helping your children everyday! Here are a few more tips that you could maybe try using: 1. Depending on the subject, the one thing that is extremely important is reading skills. If a child reads and understands what he is reading, the task becomes much easier. 2. Learning new vocabulary (the vocabulary that is used in questions), will help your child become more confident in understanding WHAT is being asked of him. 3. WorksheetCloud has an extensive range of reading resources and activities, help him go through these on a regular basis, it will help the both of you, understand the content of the grade and subjects, you will then be able to assist more at home. Hope this helps!

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  3. JABULILE MIRRIAM

    good day Megan

    thank you for this informative information about how to help my child with his home work.

    hoping this could help my son more as he is in grade 8 and struggling.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Jabulile! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts useful. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  4. Parent

    Thank you for this. I have been following these posts recently, and find them very helpful.

    I am struggling with instilling a culture of learning. Recently, I met with the school principal as I have been unhappy about communication and the quality of education at this private school that my son attends.

    In my opinion, a number of schools seem to be more focus on arts and culture, and less so on Maths and Science. The quality of teachers for Maths and Science is deteriorating, at the detriment of this country.

    Another trend I am seeing is the focus on completing tasks and activities (check-box) vs. ensuring the children understand the concepts. E.g. Ensuring all the tests are done at a certain time and sticking to the school calendar.

    Parents today must spend much, much more time with their children after school because of the lack of competency and quality of the teachers.

    Teaching today is just a job, and no longer a profession that the person is passionate about.

    Teachers use the fact that parents must be more involved, to hide behind their own shortcomings. Let’s get more articles out there about the role of teachers in our children’s lives, as well as how the quality of teaching is declining in this country, while the cost of private schooling is increasing.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Vishal! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts useful. I can see you are extremely passionate about education in our country, for that I commend you. I will definitely pass on your article suggestions to our authors! Thank you for that. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  5. Lumkae Daniell

    My child in grade 7 tells me that he hates school. He goes because I force him.

    I try help him with homeworks and projects. He does the bare minimum. And then I upgraded his PowerPoint presentation once. Since then he decided that he doesn’t need my help.

    Now he is struggling especially with afrikaans. I can’t help him personally. I’ve gotten a pvt lesson for him. He doesn’t want to go.

    He failed last term because he failed afrikaans. I am so scared that he is going to fail again. He doesn’t seem to care. Besides praying about it, I don’t know what to do

    If you can help any help would be appreciated

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Lumkae! One of the worst scenarios as a parent, is when your child hates school. I empathize with you. Since I do not know the entire situation, I can only make a few suggestions that you could try using. 1. Talk to him about WHY he does not like school, and if there is anything you can do to assist. 2. Vision Board, ask him what he wants to be, what he dreams are and then draw a map from where that is to where he is now, chances are it will lead to him being motivated at school. 3. Afrikaans is a major problem for many learners, so I suggest starting off with one sentence a day, in Afrikaans. Use this sentence to explain words, break it up into parts of speech and grammar etc. Plus, one sentence is not too overwhelming, but it will definitely improve the language section of Afrikaans. I hope this helps.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  6. Nalene

    I am a stay at home mum for the past 2 years but was a working mum for 22 years.. I wish I had the opportunity to leave work sooner. The impact I have on my 10 year old twin boys is far greater being at home. It’s challenging but rewarding. One of my twins had ADD so being at home allows me to work with his teachers to support him and guide him through each term. We set weekly goals, we meditate, listen to music, we do affirmations daily, and breathing helps him when he is anxious or overwhelmed. I know his happy place and his not so happy places. The other twin is an independent motivated learner so even though he is less effort I still have to enourage him as he also has fears and had good day sand bad days. No job will ever compare to being a mother full time. It is the only job I want right now.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Nalene! Thank you for your comment! I can see that you are trying everything in your power to help your children cope with all the challenges life has to offer. Keep it up! Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  7. Eksha

    Hi Megan, My daughter is in grade 2 and this year has been such an uphill battle with homework. She was in the top 5 in her class last year and this yr the grades have dropped. I sit with her everyday to do the homework, prep and learn for orals etc. She is a bright child but the teacher tells me that she is more interested in the other kids and what they are doing rather than concentrating on her own work hence she is now falling behind.
    So now I have gone the extra mile and I have printed extra worksheets for her to go thru. I also have 20m old baby who wants also to be in the middle when its homework time. So afternoons in our household is disaster. We really do try to balance everything out but its very difficult. Esp with a 7 year old who thinks she is a know it all… she is already showing signs of teenage behavior. So I have come to the conclusion that lots of patients encouragement and care is needed to deal with the situation.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Eksha! Thanks for your comment! I will definitely pass your comments to Megan. Wow, I can completely understand where you are coming from. Children develop very different personalities as they grow older. She obviously has the potential (based on the previous years results). Bare in mind that the school work does become more intense as they move on to different grades, so her marks dropping is not very uncommon. Her playful demeanor in class can be attributed to anything so maybe have a sit down with her and ask her why she finds it so difficult to concentrate in class. She might be able to give you a clearer picture of what is going on with her and then you can reassess. I hope this helps.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  8. Soné Potgieter

    Thank you for your sound advise and encouraging words. It is great to hear when I am doing things the right way with my child, and also to learn some new methods in between.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Soné! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts useful. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  9. Somi

    Dear Megan. Thank you for this. I thought i was the only parent who does this, sometimes worried I may be pushing too hard. I have two boys who are academically different. My first born is in Grade 6, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He rushes through everything even when he is talking, constantly making silly mistakes. He gets irritated when asked to try again. The latest I have noticed now coming from him is “Mommy I need your help !” And it comes too often and when I ask him to read the question slowly and tell me what he thinks it means, he would actually figure out the answer without me helping. But this comes with a lot of attitude. He does not get the best marks but his willingness to learn amazes the teachers as well. Most of the time I feel very sorry for this boy and wish I could do more. He also has a very low self-esteem as he does not understand why he is not getting the merit badges that his little brother is always getting. I am afraid that he will soon develop a bad attitude towards school.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Somi! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts useful. I hear your concern. Parents often find it difficult when dealing with children with completely different capabilities. To balance it, can be an excruciating job, because you don’t want your one child to feel despondent. The only advice I can give you, is that you fill in the gaps. By this I mean that you have to encourage your other child, show excitement for his efforts and hard work. Remember, everyone has different intelligence’s so find out what he is good at and then support him in that, whilst assisting him academically. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  10. Mayce Hye

    I am also a tutor and I agree with all the points that you have mentioned in this article. As a parent we should create interest in their learning and encourage them. It will help them to do their best.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Noble! Thanks for your comment! I agree 100% with you! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. We are also glad to hear that you find our blog posts useful. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  11. Janine Arendse

    Good day Megan

    I have a Grade 8 daughter, who is struggling a lot, she failed her 1st and 2nd term.

    She failed her maths the 1st term and the 2nd term she passed. She failed mostly study subjects for example, natural science, history, geography etc. I had a meeting with her teachers and they advised me that my daughter do not ask questions when she don’t understand and they feel she is ashamed because of what the friends will think.

    I am the type of mom that will put in all the effort to assist but my daughter don’t give her all and i know she can do better, What more can I do to assist her, I printed the caps terms 2 and 4 memos and test for her and hope that it will help. i got her a maths tutor. I

    am not sure how to get through to her. I am really trying my utmost. but to her its like i am nagging. I am not sure if its her age she went quite early to school and is currently 13 in Grade 8, the teacher’s advice was may be she is to early for high school and if need be she will have to repeat Grade 8 surely something no parent would want for their child.

    I hope to hear from you soonest.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Janine! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Megan and let her know what you think of her blog post. There could be a variety of things at play here. She is in a completely new environment and setting. Remember she has been accustomed to 7 years of primary school and now she might be a bit anxious in her new school. Anxiety and insecurity may also cause her to struggle in her school work. Another thing is that she is struggling with study subjects, which is mostly reading. She might not like to read, so the priority there would be to get her interested in reading and make it exciting to her. Summarizing her work into shorter sentences might help. I hope this helps. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  12. Simon Maseko

    Hi am mr Maseko am having two twin boys , they dont want to read do their homework. Once you told them about reading doing homework they changed.They don’t want to read please help.

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Mr Maseko! Thanks so much for your comment! Sometimes the problem that children have is not with reading, but rather WHAT they are reading. There are times when they have to read something, because their school requires them to, but to get them interested in reading, you should find articles or books that would relate to them. Children are more likely to interact with material they enjoy. I hope this helps.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply
  13. Nancy Matsepe

    I am struggling with two boys who enjoys being at school but not enjoying studying and I don’t know how to help them I just get irritated they don’t ask for help of any questions concerning their school work even projects they doing them in the last minute age 14 an 15 both grade 9 the youngest failed English 48 since this term has started but okay in other subjects this older one performs okay but I feel he is not putting more effort in his school work for me he is an A student but he is not studying

    Reply
    • Ross Frank

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for your message! Studying can be tiresome and boring at times, however there are ways of making it interesting. Turning the work into a Rap song for instance. Boys at their age, do not feel the urgency of school at the moment. Time feels never ending, so maybe remind them about how very limited their time is. 48% is not very far from the pass mark, which means that your son definitely has potential, cultivate that. Encourage him from a positive perspective “Well done! I know you tried so hard. Let’s target set for next time.” Children often feel that expectations are higher than what they are, therefore set realistic expectations and make those expectations clear. “I don’t expect you to get an A, but maybe we can improve your marks by 10% next term?” This will prevent the child from feeling overwhelmed. I hope this helps.

      Ross 🙂

      Reply

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