Helping Your Child Learn at Home

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#1 What They Need to Hear – and What You Can Say

#1 What They Need to Hear – and What You Can Say

Whatever type of school your child goes to, they benefit from having their learning supported at home. There are a plethora of ways in which your child’s school may expect you to do this: reading with them, helping with, and taking an active interest in, their homework, learning weekly spellings and learning off by heart the times-tables. There is no doubt that support from home can reap huge benefits in terms of building a child’s confidence and developing a passion for, and interest in, life-long learning. You may even be approached by your child’s class teacher to give them additional support at home in a particular area.

Trouble is, helping them at home can be difficult.

So, how to help? First of all, the message behind what we say to children is hugely important. Here are my top messages that your child needs to hear when you are helping them at home:

  1. “Our working together at home is a great way for us to spend time together and for me to help you with your learning” working with your child at home is not a punishment, nor because they are “not very good” at something, nor because they did something wrong – it’s an opportunity. Try to ensure this message comes across right from the start. Your child may be feeling very insecure about “having to do extra work at home” so tell them you believe in them. You’re great – you are a bright, intelligent wonderful person and I am proud of you – boosting your child’s self-esteem goes hand in hand with learning, and that means hearing lots of positive messages about their attitude to learning and the effort they put in.
  2. Let’s TALK to each other about your learning today – lots and lots of talking! Tell me what you know, tell me what confuses you – this is so important – it’s a DIALOGUE – not just you talking and them listening and doing. A two way conversation is essential when working with your child at home – how else will you know what they know or do not know if they aren’t talking to you about what they do and do not know? They need to be able to explain what they are stuck on and what they have learned. If they can explain it, they can do it – that is the big test to see if they really “get it”
  3. We are going to work together for 30 minutes MAXIMUMchildren (and you) need to know there is an agreed, set time limit for how long you will be working together, and to be honest even 30 minutes can be too long, especially if they are young Primary aged children. Stick to the agreed time limit – if they’re on a high when they finish, they will want more tomorrow. If you and they are becoming upset, agitated, highly frustrated– leave it, end the session for today. No learning can take place if they are highly emotional and you can’t be calm and patient if you’re upset and frustrated too. There’s no point making it a situation that needs to be battled through – say calmly that maybe it’s time to finish, end the session on a positive, and both go and do something else.
  4. We learn through making mistakes – we all make mistakes – even as adults – and it’s OK – this is an important about powerful life lesson – if children are unafraid of making mistakes they will learn greater resilience and risk taking. Try not to make a big thing over them making mistakes, as that can make children nervous which then causes them to shut down and stop learning.
  5. I’m not frustrated with you – I’m frustrated that I can’t make this easier for you – yet – if you are explaining something one way, and it’s not working for your child, you are the one that needs to change the way you are explaining it – try a different way, make a story out of it, use characters from their favourite book or TV – just make a change in your explanation. Try using counters – anything that they can physically see and move to help them count etc. Please don’t keep doing what you are already doing if it’s not working. Ask your child exactly which bit they don’t understand and maybe that will help you too.
  6. Here’s the answer – lets work out how to get it together –yes – really – give them the answer! It’s not cheating! The idea is that the children become familiar with, and start to understand, the concept so they can repeatedly get to the answers – it’s not about getting that answer correct. Give children the answer so they can work back from it. This gives them the power and understanding to continually repeat and apply their learning to new areas.
  7. We’ve had enough for today – let’s do something different – celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate! Always end on a positive and treat them (and you) to positive words and then something totally different.

I really hope these are a good starting point and please let me know how you get on! If you’d like any support in working with your child at home, I coach internationally using Skype / Facetime / Whatsapp etc. Coaching will enable you to support your child at home more easily and with increased patience and understanding of what will work – and what won’t.

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