You’ve just picked your kids up from school after a long day of work or running errands.
It’s never-ending, isn’t it?
You don’t even want to think about dinner, much less about how you can help your kids with their school work. Well, here are some ideas that might help.
Your kids need to know how things are going to play out when they get home from school in the afternoon. There needs to be time to have lunch (because who can concentrate on an empty stomach?), some time to relax, and then it’s crunch time when homework and studying needs to be done.
This has to be non-negotiable, and it is important that you, the parent, enforce it.
Make homework a priority
Homework is a vital part of your child’s school career. It reinforces what has been learned during the school day and often prepares them for the next day’s lessons. It also helps children develop work ethic and a sense of responsibility, which will be infinitely valuable when they enter the workforce in a couple of years.
Set an example for your child by prioritising homework. If you see it as important, they will too.
Set up an effective study environment. The area should be comfortable and quiet, with no distractions. Make sure that they have everything they need before starting their homework so that they don’t need to constantly get up to fetch something.
Be available to help with instructions, answer questions and check completed homework. However, avoid simply giving the correct answer wherever possible and never ever do homework assignments for your child. They need to understand the concepts and if mistakes need to be made, so be it.
Having said this, it is also important to prioritise time where your child can relax and play. Most people crave ‘me-time’, and children are no different. Allow them time to play video games, fiddle on their phones and watch television, but try and limit screen time to an hour or two a day, especially during the school week.
Ask your child to teach you what they have learned
This kills two birds with one stone! You show interest in your child’s school work and reinforce the concept or topic in their minds. By explaining something to you and ‘teaching’ you, your child makes more sense of what they have learned.
By opening yourself up to dialogue, you should also be able to notice if your child is struggling with a certain subject. If this happens, you can organise extra lessons before it’s too late!
I know! Most of you are rolling your eyes, because everyone always says your child needs to read. However, the benefits of reading are so far-reaching that it is worth it to try! If your child has already developed a love of reading, encourage them to explore more topics and genres. This will expand their vocabulary and knowledge base.
If your child does not enjoy reading books, you can try an audio book or a comic book. If he or she has a specific interest, find a magazine that will grab their attention. Many highly successful movies are based on young adult fiction. If they watched a movie that was based on a book and enjoyed it, suggest getting hold of the book – the story is usually so much better and more detailed in the book.
Send your child to school ready to learn
Teach your child to pack their school bag the night before and to make sure that they have everything they need for the next day. Check your child’s timetable and let them make sure that they have all the books and stationary they need for that specific subject and that all work in their books are up to date.
Your child should be able to concentrate on their day without the stress of realising that they have forgotten something important. As your child grows older, they should organise their school days on their own, but YOU need to teach them these skills. It’s never too late to learn something new!
Healthy eating habits are another important factor in your child’s education. Your child should be eating nutritious meals with limited sugar. A balanced diet will help ensure that your child’s body and mind are healthy. Remember, you are what you eat!
In order to be alert and ready to learn, kids need to get enough sleep. Make sure that your child is getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep leads to countless problems, including irritability, behaviour issues and concentration problems. Have a set bedtime, but make sure to allow enough time for your child to relax before lights out – preferably without television, a tablet or phone. This is where a book comes in handy (wink, wink).
Encourage your child to explore different learning styles
Every child has preferences and something that works for one might not work for another. The same is true for learning styles and study methods.
I remember when I was in primary school it was compulsory to study using mind-maps. This was an absolute disaster for me because I needed points and acronyms to remember information.
There are many different learning styles and no specific one works better than the next! It all depends on the person and what works best for them. Encourage your child to experiment until he or she finds the one that allows them to study to the best of their ability. For example, some people use pictures, like mind-maps, and others, like me, use words and rhymes. If your child is musically inclined, he or she might be able to write a ‘song’ to remember information. Some children need to study with others, while others need to study alone in absolute silence.
Praise, praise and praise some more
Celebrate the little things and praise your child whenever you can. Positive reinforcement will encourage your child to keep on doing their best. Take them out for a surprise milkshake or ice-cream now and again, or take them to see a movie or to the skate park (if they think that’s cool).
Most importantly though, let your child know that you are proud of them. Those words do wonders for a child’s attitude and self-esteem.
Your child’s education depends on your child, your child’s teachers and you the parent. If everyone works together and does their bit, your child’s education can only benefit.