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Motivating Children, Setting Goals

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 tips:

1. Choose with your child a quiet place where they can study, work on assignments or maybe just read a book. This place should be:

  • comfortable

  • free from distractions, though some children actually work best when a little activity surrounds them. Decide with your child what works best.

2. Besides choosing the best place to study, also decide with your child the best time to do homework. Most children benefit from a break right after school but others prefer to divide their study times into before and after supper sessions. The time should be consistent and a household expectation.

3. Make sure that pencils, pens, calculators, etc., are available near or at the designated homework spot.

4. Check your child'’s homework notebook or the school'’s online homework page/homework hotline regularly.

 5. Keep the communication channels open. Ask your child, "‘What was the most interesting thing you learned today?"’ to help them think about the day'’s learning.

6. Reinforce learning as both an enjoyable and stimulating activity, as well as preparation for lifelong success, in actions as well as words. For example:

  • Occasionally choose learning channels on television

  • Encourage the playing of skill-honing games like Scrabble, preferably as a family activity.

  • Encourage reading as a preferred activity wherever possible.

7. Offer guidance for assignments 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.

  • Imply that having someone else do it is the far easier, and therefore better way out.

  • Lose the opportunity for the child to actually learn something from completing the project.

8. 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 activities as their right.

9. Ask good questions and encourage your child to do the same.

10. Purchase a good dictionary and keep it handy. Anytime a child asks you how to spell a word, encourage him or her to look it up.

11. Help your child associate 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.