Archives for Parenting
I don't know about you, but I feel ready to get back into the comforting structure of the school-year schedule. Routines makes life easier and less stressful in so many ways. Good routines are also the key to school success! The best students intentionally create habits that help them work efficiently, learn deeply, stay healthy, and get good grades without struggling. Here are three of the simplest, most basic routines to establish now for success throughout the school year:
Kids tend to under-prepare for tests and be overly optimistic about the quality of their writing, and parents may suspect laziness or lack of motivation. However, much of the problem can be the student's fuzzy sense of what "knowing the material" means or what "a good essay" is. The ability to "know what you know" is called metacognition, and it's one of the big developmental tasks for maturing students. The younger the student, the less perspective they have on their own knowledge. Here are some ways adults can help young learners develop their logic and make sense of the world around them:
As I go on my tutoring rounds, I wind up reteaching and clarifying the same material over and over. Certain topics and concepts are just plain hard for students to wrap their heads around. Many kids in grades 6-10 are currently covering Pythagorean Theorem or other geometry topics, and many are struggling (as usual!) with the word problems. If you are a parent, thinking Yipes ! I don't remember Pythagorean Theorem, the good news is that most students find the actual formula pretty do-able. But, they need help in reading the problem and drawing the diagram. Here's a sample problem from one textbook:
Change takes time, but kids DO make progress. It's often easier for me to see the growth in my students, because I don't see them every day. Parents are pleasantly surprised when I point out the gains their kids have made in knowledge and maturity.
Many middle and high school students take mid-year exams in January. The keys to effective exam review are to start early and have a plan. I ask students to come up with a list of what they'll need to do in order to be well-prepared for their exams, and most kids are actually pretty good at this part. Here's what one high school student wrote:
Because the holiday season brings family members of all ages together, it's a great opportunity for people to share knowledge. Adults often don't realize how important it is for kids to learn factual information, but information is the fuel the brain runs on!
When students get a test back, they typically glance at the grade and then stuff the test in their backpack, never to think about it again (unless, of course, the test has a refrigerator-worthy high score). Meanwhile, teachers invest time and effort making careful corrections and thoughtful comments. This feedback is meant to help kids learn and improve. Reviewing test results with students and helping kids digest the information is an important part of what we tutors do, and parents can do the same.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in learning science and history is that young people find so many of the words and concepts unfamiliar. Kids find these subjects boring because it's no fun to study something you don't understand and therefore can't relate to.
When teaching study skills, I don’t just explain the skills, because the student will tend to listen but then not change his behaviors. I look for ways to make sure the student uses and practices new skills and creates new habits. When forming habits, it’s most helpful to incorporate Visible Results and Accountability.