8 Ways to Focus Your Child on Learning…Starting Right Now!
Boy, oh boy! Where does the summer go? That infamous ‘first day of school’ is fast approaching. As a parent, and educator, I know the anxieties that creep over parents as well as their teachers. Here are some helpful tips to ease these anxieties and start your children off right.
Dress for Success
As tempting as it may be to roll out of bed, pour a bowl of cereal in your bathrobe, it is important that you dress for success. Your children need to know the importance of the education they are about to receive. There is no quicker way to give your child an aura of respect, than by dressing the part. Clothing does not have to be formal, but it can’t be sloppy either. Similarly, your children should get ready for school in the morning by grooming and dressing appropriately to set the tone for the day’s work. Expectation is one of the greatest factors in student learning, and your dress reflects your expectations.
- Eliminate Distractions
Learning time should be focused and efficient. It is important, therefore, to eliminate as many distractions as possible. To begin make sure that you choose a room in your home with no TVs or inherent noise problems. To prevent disruptions at homework time, hang a sign such as “Quiet please, learning in progress.” Put any pets away from the study area. Parents and siblings, you too, should not be watching TVs or videos, and put your cell phones on vibrate or off.
- Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
To create an efficient use of time and space in your home, it is vital to have a daily and weekly schedule. Homework hours and family hours should be set and regular so that children know what to expect and are prepared. While schedules are important to the educational environment, don’t let them be your only focus. Unique teaching opportunities arise all the time that should not be passed over just to keep to the schedule. A trip to the library, playing toss the ball with mom or dad, or having a conversation with your child. These are some of the greatest learning experiences and should not be avoided just to remain on schedule. These can be some of the greatest joys to adapt learning to your individual child. You notice I didn’t say to ‘replace’ educational assignments with these adaptations. Your child needs to know that their educational or school obligations will still have to be met.
- The Proper Tools
The home environment needs to have the proper learning tools just like in your child’s classroom. Beyond the obvious paper and pencils, children need tools at their fingertips to encourage inquiry and problem solving. Every learning environment should have reference materials such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, atlas and internet. Hands-on learning tools are also important. Simple objects like dried pasta or building blocks can serve as aids to demonstrate math functions.
- Text-Rich Environment
The home educational environment can always be improved with things like appropriate posters, letter cards, word walls, diagrams, and poems displayed for easy reference. Children are influenced by their surroundings. Giving children a text rich environment will encourage them to read and the repeated reference to these different pieces of language will encourage understanding and memory.
- Multiple Modalities
There has been a great deal of focus on multiple intelligences in the area of education. The idea that each individual child has strengths in different areas can be a very important key in presenting information in a way that your child can understand. Consider including things in the learning environment that will promote the different intelligences in your child. For example, Include photos, graphic organizers, and illustrations for the visual learner. Have books on CD, music and chants for the auditory learner. Provide physical gestures, models, building blocks such as Legos, and tracing sand for those kinesthetic learners. There are ways to encourage and incorporate all your child’s specific intelligences into the daily lesson.
While you certainly have rules that your children follow in your home, you may want to create a more specific set of rules for school/homework time. Having a set of rules that you develop with your children for their learning time is very effective. When everyone knows the rules and why they are necessary it is much easier to get compliance. Once you and your children have decided on the rules and the consequences for following or not following the rules, take the time to write them down and post them where they can be referenced when appropriate.
- Take a Break!
While, as adults, we may be able to push through an entire day’s work with few breaks, this is not ideal for children. In fact, it may be more beneficial to allow your children regular movement breaks. These breaks can be part of the learning process or a ‘recess’ of sorts. Either way, physical activity breaks refresh children and give them energy to refocus on their studies. Be mindful of bedtime! A tired learner will not perform at their best. Perhaps an after school nap is in order before homework time? Research demonstrates that sleep and proper nutrition are key elements for learning. After school snack time is valuable but should not interrupt eating a wholesome dinner.
KLAC ENTERPRISES, LLC/Buckaroo Buckeye™/Nuts About Reading™