As a parent, helping your student get better grades is a powerful desire, but not always one that you have the time or tools to achieve. Don’t worry! There are some very basic, easy to implement strategies that you can use to make better grades and better work habits a reality.
1. CHOOSE THE SAME TIME TO DO HOMEWORK EVERY DAY
Structure and Regularity is extremely important. Just as having meals at specific times of day is good for you, making homework part of an organized and regular routine is a healthy and necessary step in helping the student realize their potential. Scheduling school work time, like all life skills, needs to be taught and structured by the parent in the beginning.
Ideally, you want to make sure you have the same time booked every day. After a number of weeks, say 5, this should become habit forming, and you should have to monitor this less.
If you are like many parents, and have extra-curricular activities scheduled (such as soccer, swimming, karate, music lessons, etc.), you may not be able to have the same time daily. This is not a setback – it just requires a little more planning and attention on the part of the parent, and can take longer to make this habit stick. Your student will rely on you for this help, so hang in there!
2. PREVENT DISTRACTIONS
It is extremely important that you are providing an atmosphere that is good for concentration, and completing work.
- NO noise
- NO Television to be heard
- NO Telephone or cell phone interruptions
- NO brothers and sisters running around
This is not something the student can control after they sit down, so the onus is on YOU, the parent, to make sure the studying environment is a peaceful one that encourages focus.
3. PROVIDE THE RIGHT TOOLS
If you’ve gotten this far, then you are doing a great job, but be sure that you are making the physical part of the work environment one that also is good for working in.
The chair and desk/table, need to be at a good height, and comfortable enough to work at for a stretch of time.
Make sure you have pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers – whatever is needed to do the work. You don’t want to give your student the excuse that they don’t have the right tool for the job. A child that doesn’t want to do work can be extremely crafty!
4. ENCOURAGE AND CONGRATULATE QUESTIONS AT HOME AND AT SCHOOL
Many students feel embarrassed to admit they have a problem, or just don’t understand. This can become a really crippling problem if it isn’t caught early on, so be sure to congratulate the student for being so open about challenges, and stumbling blocks.
You won’t always be able to be there for the student, so setting up this kind of fearless attitude towards homework challenges is a really excellent way to stimulate questions at school, and to encourage curiosity as a good thing in life. Your student and school teacher will be thankful!
A two-way way work journal will be very helpful. Use it to record homework and assignments, but also to note questions (at home or at school) about the work that are points to check with your tutor or teacher.
5. THERE IS ALWAYS HOMEWORK
A teacher does not have to assign work for there to be homework. Take advantage, early on, to get your child to bring their books and school materials home each day. Going over them, reading them aloud, copying out certain parts over again, are all ways to reinforce the learning going on at school. Check with your tutor or teacher for other great ways to review work on nights where there are no assignments.
The student’s brain is very good at remembering, especially when trained by reviewing. Learning to ride a bike, for instance, is done by almost daily effort. Once you have it, though, it is a skill that is remembered for life.
6. REWARD WITH ACKNOWLEDGMENT!
These days, there are two ways that good academic effort are mostly recognized by parents. One is to buy a kid ‘stuff’ – maybe a video game, maybe a cellphone. The other is to not acknowledge at all.
Neither of these is really ideal for stimulating further good academic work. Try a hug and a kiss, and a real tangible moment as a family to really vocalize how proud you are of the effort that your student is putting in to increase their success.
This kind of effort on your part as a parent will sow deep seeds of self-respect and self-worth, as well as reinforcing the perception that successful results in academics are important and meaningful. If you feel that you do have to provide a gift, consider a nice book that you can inscribe with words of encouragement and love that will always be available to your student for reference. Here again, you will have made a special effort that will leave an impression with your student.