Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twelve Tips to Help Your Struggling Student

Is your student bringing home grades that do not reflect his level of intelligence? Is your child complaining about not liking school? Talking about school being boring? Having difficulty finding motivation to complete homework and school projects? Those may be signs that your child is finding his schoolwork too challenging. Get to the bottom of the problem by having a candid talk with your child and his teacher(s). If you find that your child is indeed having difficulty, here are some tips that can help:

1. Have your child's vision tested. Your child may simply need glasses.

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2. Have your child's hearing tested. Hearing can be affected by things such as impacted wax, or injury from prior ear infections.

3. Conference with your child's teacher(s). Find out what specific academic areas need extra attention. "Reading" is vague, but "learning letter sounds", "identifying compound words" is more specific and helpful to you.

4. Ask educational experts for referrals; tutors, learning centers or good supplemental materials in the needed areas. Some excellent experts include your child's teacher, school principal, a tutor, retired teacher, a children's librarian, or a knowledgeable employee at a teacher supply store.

5. Purchase a notebook to correspond with your child's teacher. On a weekly basis, ask her to alert you of progress noticed, inform you of upcoming tests or signal a new area of difficulty. If you have hired a private tutor, have the tutor correspond with the teacher as well. Regular communication is key!

6. Get your child organized. Your child should organize his backpack, school folders, desk/locker on a weekly basis. Check-in when necessary until a habit has been established.

7. Make learning fun! Children are less likely to rebel when learning activities are interesting and fun. Add educational games, books on CD, educational DVDs, educational music and educational software into the mix.

8. Get your child out of the house! Find activities related to the academic area of difficulty. Activities will show your child the real-life application of school work and will motivate him to learn. Some terrific educational outings include museums, plays, movies related to a recently read book, extra-curricular science and math classes/clubs, observatories, zoo, arboretums, recycling plant or symphony. The possibilities are endless.

9. Break learning up into smaller chunks. For example, before attempting to teach double digit multiplication, one must first know his times tables. Before going through the entire stack of flash cards, teach 3-5 letter names/sounds until they are known by heart and then add 3-5 more.

10. Keep up the hard work. It's tempting to take a break during the summer, but it's an ideal time to play catch up. While everyone else is on vacation, your child can maintain and gain another two months worth of skills! It's worth the effort!

11. Be encouraging and patient. When your child finally accomplishes something, give due praise. A goal chart is a great way to visually track goals and mark achievements.

12. Before beginning the task, set a goal and a reward. Some children require external motivation, especially to conquer a challenging area that they would rather ignore. Explain that the size of the goal is tied to the size of the reward. Some reward ideas are having a soda with dinner, a meal at a favorite restaurant, a new toy, a slumber party, going to the movies with a friend, or a trip to an amusement park. As long as you're both in agreement, it can be as simple or complex as you want.

The main factor in your child's success is parental involvement. When you become involved in helping your child, you are modeling teamwork, time management skills, organization, the importance of academics, perseverance and optimism. You are in fact teaching your child quality traits that will last his lifetime.

Twelve Tips to Help Your Struggling Student

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