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How Can I Help My Child Learn

An Overview

You probably want to do everything possible to help your child do well in school. Besides ensuring their basic human needs such as food, housing and love, what else can you do to support your child'’s learning?

Research indicates that children do better in school when parents set reasonable expectations for their children'’s achievement and stay actively engaged in their learning. Here are a few ways you can stay involved and informed:

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does your child have a quiet place where they can study, work on assignments or perhaps just read a book?

  • This place should be comfortable and free from distractions, though some children actually work best when a little activity surrounds them. Decide with your child what works best for him or her.
  • Most children benefit from a break right after school before beginning homework and others prefer to divide study times into before and after supper sessions.
  • Choose with your child the best place and time to study. Whatever the case, the time should be consistent and a household expectation.

2. Are the right tools readily available?

  • Make sure that pencils, pens, calculators, etc., are available near or at the designated homework spot.
  • Nutrition is important and a child fueled on too much fat and sugar may have as much difficulty focusing as one who is hungry. Consider providing healthy, nutritious, snacks when your child returns home from school and, likewise, make sure your child eats well at school.
  • The provincial Food and Nutrition policy ensures that only healthy food is served in school cafeterias and vending machines.

For more information on general healthy living for families:

3.Did you know that many schools provide online homework pages and homework hotlines so parents can check their child’'s homework notebook or school’s online homework page/homework hotline regularly to see what homework has been assigned?

  • Teachers will sometimes ask you to sign students’ work so you can stay informed. Let your child know that you care how they'’re doing in school.

4. How do you keep the communication channels open with your child?

You could ask the following questions:

  • "What was the most interesting thing you learned today?" This will help them think about the day’s learning.
  • "What things really bothered you about the day?" Even negative responses can illuminate how a child is feeling.

5. How can you make learning enjoyable and stimulating?

  • Occasionally choose learning channels on television and encourage the playing of skill-honing games like Scrabble, preferably as a family activity. Encourage reading as a preferred activity whenever possible.

6. How do you support your child without doing the homework yourself?

  • Remind yourself: ‘Whose project is this, anyway?’ If a parent does a child'’s assignment, it can send a damaging message to the child that they are unable to do the job unassisted or that having someone else do it is the far easier, and therefore better, way out.
  • Add to that the lost opportunity for the child to actually learn something from completing the project, and you have even more reasons to offer guidance only.

7. Do you limit television time, the use of electronic games and online chatting?

  • Use these activities as rewards for school work completed rather than encouraging children to see these acrtivities as their right.

8. Do you ask ‘thinking’ questions and encourage your child to do the same?

  • Why?
  • Some of the world'’s best thinkers came to be that way by knowing how to ask thinking questions. Also, try to take your child'’s questions seriously and provide thoughtful responses.

9. Do you have a dictionary and keep it nearby? Anytime a child asks you how to spell a word, encourage him or her to look it up.

10. Do you help your child connect skills learned at school with real life? For instance, involve him or her in the process of making a major purchase or planning a family trip through online research and studying consumer magazines.