Math instruction has transformed over the years, moving away from rote memorization and formula-based problem solving and to (the much more effective) critical thinking and number sense. This might be different from the way you were taught, but you can still support your child at home. A few basic numeracy skills will go a long way, so you can help your child with greater confidence. These skills will help form a strong math foundation, so your child can be successful in math at school. Continue reading “Math: How Teachers are Teaching”
Setting your child up for success doesn’t have to be difficult. A few simple action items can go a long way. Being present is key, whether it’s reviewing your child’s homework and schedule, or making sure you’re up-to-date on emails from the teacher (and sending them questions you have!). If there’s a parent portal available, make sure you use it. Helping your child get organized at the beginning of the year, and checking in with their system periodically, can also be a big help. Make it a fun project, finding notebooks, planners, and calendars your child is drawn to.
Finally, nurture your child’s education by promoting a growth mindset. Remind them that mistakes are okay, and a part of the learning process. Help them take care of themselves emotionally and physically, providing appropriate praise and making sure they (and you!) get plenty of rest.
It’s a familiar scenario for parents: your child is struggling with a school subject, or you decide they need additional enrichment. Given your own busy schedule, you find that an outside tutor is your best option.
Once the decision to hire a tutor is made, you have to actually find one. If you’ve never gone through the process before, it can quickly become both overwhelming and confusing. There are so many considerations: What qualifications should you look for? What makes a good tutor? Will my child and the tutor get along? What if I make the wrong choice?
While it can seem like a huge burden at the onset, there are specific factors you can look for to make this process easy and the transition into tutoring smooth. Continue reading “How to choose the right tutor for your child”
Many parents and teachers dread their child asking this question, and it can be an intimidating one to answer. If disregarded, it can allow the child to internalize a negative self-belief. If approached with care and consideration, it can become a powerful, teachable moment and lead to valuable dialogue. As a result, the child can learn how to not only think of themselves in a more positive light, but also how to think critically about how they learn. Continue reading “How do you respond when your child asks: “Am I Stupid?””
In February 2017, I will be releasing a 3-part video training focusing on how parents can build critical thinking skills in children preschool through second grade.
The training will start with explaining the “what” and “why” of critical thinking including it’s potential for academic motivation in preschoolers, struggling students and gifted learners.
Then we’ll review assumptions that prevent parents from fostering (and children from gaining) “good thinking” experiences, and the impacts of these pitfalls on a child’s ability to build proficient reading skills and math number sense.
The last video will give you some quick & easy tips to implement into your already (time-strapped) busy schedule. If you are interested in this training, just click here to you’ll be signed up to be notified when the videos are ready.
HOW TO BALANCE TECHNOLOGY & PLAY
Create a structure around both off and onscreen learning
The key factor isn’t the means through which your child is learning: it’s the structure around it. For example, giving your child free reign to do whatever he or she pleases on an iPad may be somewhat less effective than scheduling a block of time for them to engage in highly-acclaimed learning apps.
This holds true for offscreen play as well. You don’t need to dictate every activity your child engages in, but it’s good to be cognizant of how they spend the blocks of time where no screen is involved.
Remain a part of the process
Whether you’re helping your child build something from blocks or asking questions about the learning app they’re playing with, your participation matters.
While it can be tempting to let your child “figure it out on their own”, it’s important to remain invested in the process. Ask questions, show your interest, and let your child know that you want to be involved, regardless of what the activity may be. Continue reading “Offscreen vs. Onscreen Learning”
Is your child failing their homework?
Three smart ways to help your child succeed on their homework.
Few students return from school at the end of the day full of excitement and eagerness about their homework. In my experience, even the most gifted students (sometimes especially gifted students) approach their homework assignments with a certain amount of anxiety, irritation, or distaste. After all, they just spent the whole day at school, why should they need to work more?
Motivating and helping your child succeed can be a daunting task, and no small number of fights have begun at the homework table. Rather than preparing for battle, I recommend taking the stress away from homework. As a parent, you fill the role of monitor and motivator. To do this successfully means implementing a few simple practices.
Blur the lines between learning and playing
So often young learners are restricted from “play time” until they successfully complete their homework. Essentially, they are told they are not allowed to have fun until they finish learning. It’s no wonder so many students are resistant!
Instead of holding fun over your child’s head as a motivator, reinforce the idea that learning is fun. Not only that, but it’s a part of everyday experiences. While homework may be a more formal version of learning, each game they play, every curiosity they satisfy, also teaches them.
Remind your child of this by integrating fun, learning activities into their routine and allowing homework to be a part of that.
Ask open-ended questions
It can be tempting to take on your child’s homework as your own burden, but it’s important to resist the urge. Instead of hovering over them, act as a facilitator. If they begin to struggle, ask open-ended questions that prompt them to think for themselves, instead of fishing for answers.
Questions such as, “How can you think about this in a different way?” or “What part of this problem is hard for you?” will teach your child to verbalize their difficulties while also approaching them from new angles. As an added bonus, when you monitor your child in this way you become less of a disciplinarian and more of a motivator. They can look to you for advice, but ultimately they are responsible for their own learning.
Asking your child to do all of their homework at once may be hurting more than helping, especially if they’re bogged down by a huge amount. Instead, block off specific times for completing homework and encourage your child to take breaks frequently. Most young children have short attention spans, and when they become frustrated their ability to problem solve is greatly reduced.
Give your child 15 – 30 minutes to work on their homework in earnest, then break it up with an activity that requires some amount of movement or shift in thinking. Once they’ve had 10 – 20 minutes away from their assignment, encourage them to return to it. This will allow them to approach it with a fresh mind.
As your child gets older they may be able to work uninterrupted for longer periods of time. Be mindful of them as they work, and if they seem to be overly stressed or anxious, remind them to step back.
Are you creating a positive atmosphere around homework?
When you implement these tricks you allow your child to approach their homework with a more positive mindset. It becomes less of a battleground and more of a playground. While your child may never view homework as their favorite activity, they will slowly come to think of it as a part of their day-to-day routine.
Critical thinking is now a catchphrase in learning. It applies even to preschoolers. Before, education was limited to conveying information. However, there has been a move recently toward mentoring critical thinking. This is the ability that promotes thinking further than learning and remembering. Critical thinking is more of reason and analysis. In other words, it is more of learning how to think.