7 Ways to help your child do well at school
Updated: Apr 11, 2018
‘It takes a village to raise a child’, they say.
But education begins at home. A village does not stand a chance unless you, the parent, create the proper learning environment at home. Don’t worry, you do not need to (re)learn Algebra or Chemistry.
There’s more to attitude and moral values than you’d think. Excellent academic results can stem out of willpower, strong moral values, and curiosity. What can you do at home to foster these in your kid? We have a couple of ideas, let’s go through this.
1. Make them love learning and the rest will follow.
When you are in a good mood you learn faster. The same is true for your kids. Research shows that if we are in a good mood you are inherently more engaged, more creative and willing to work hard to complete a task. If you can turn learning into something fun the rest will be easy. How you do that? It’s up to you. Make it fun and engaging, leverage music, jokes, and games, turn family time into trivia quizzes, it’s all up to you.
2. Leverage games in learning activities.
I’ve learned more geography by playing Risk, the board game, than reading my textbook. I’ve expanded by vocabulary exponentially just to win at Scrabble.
Nowadays kids as young as 7-year-olds learn history and coding by building parallel universes in Minecraft, a game built by Microsoft. Technology can help if you take some time to identify the right games and apps. Invest some time in this and you can both learn more about the world.
3. Don’t focus all your efforts on motivating your child through consequences.
It is proven that trying to motivate someone purely through consequences is not very effective. Instead, try focusing more on reinforcement rather than punishment and find the right balance between the two. Punishment only tells your child what not to do, and whilst this is important, remember they also need to be steered towards what they should be doing – and using positive rewards is the best way to encourage this.
Think about when you train a puppy – you can tell them off every time they wee on the carpet, but unless you give them a treat for going on the grass then they’re not going to learn what the correct behaviour is.
Punishment doesn’t foster healthy motivation nor curious minds, so make sure that you balance it out by incorporating positive reinforcement and rewards for behaviour such as completing homework and doing extra study. Soon enough this will build into a strong sense of internal motivation for you to nurture that they can take along with them beyond textbooks and school grades.
4. Help your kid process information more in-depth
In a Snapchat world full of boomerangs and bite-size snippets of information, processing long-form content is even harder for kids and teenagers. You can help with in-depth processing tips and tricks. One of them is the smart revision of their classroom notes: work with your child to try and reorganise notes in a way that makes sense for them, create stories or games out of classroom material.
One quick example: challenge your kid to create quizzes out of school material. Some teenagers took it a step further, just take a peek at this reinterpretation of a classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, into a YouTube web series.
5. ‘The greatest teacher, failure is.’ (Master Yoda)
Yes, I quoted Yoda and you should, too. We emphasise our need for success so often that we forget that mistakes can be great teachers. You need patience and perseverance to learn a skill. You try and fail, you try again, improve and finally own that skill.
What you can do is to just tell your failure stories to kids. Tell them about the difficulties you overcame when you learned to play guitar, were not admitted to your dream college or failed in an important competition. Your ego might be hurt a little, but you will show your kid that you not only overcame that, you also learned something and grew as a human being.
Discuss the difficulties your child is facing along with their successes. Resist the temptation to overpraise successes, it might put an incredible pressure on them to only deliver great academic results.
6. Allow your child to follow their passion.
As parents, we worry about the school subjects our kids lag behind in when we could actually leverage their passion for another topic to help them grapple the more difficult ones.
Just look at The Reading World Cup. It’s a project developed by Literacy Trust in collaboration with the Football Foundation and the Professional Footballers’ Association and its mission is to help thousands of boys devoted to sports discover a love of reading. They did this by turning reading into a challenge, much like a challenge with specific goals and a competitive twist.
7. Keep in the loop with your child's tutoring journey.
It is no secret that a good tutor is the greatest asset to your child's education over the long run. Yet, there is a way to maximise the value a tutor can provide by staying in the loop with your child's tutoring journey. This means you are continuously asking for your child about what they learnt each week, it means you are communicating with the tutor about progress and planning goals for your child in the short, medium and long term. And don't just forget about the tutoring once the tutor walks out of the door, as a parent you can optimise how much you and your child are getting out of each tutoring session by making sure that your child is completing any homework that has been set before the next lesson. By doing this, not only does it prevent the tutor wasting time at the start of each lesson, but it can also identify what your child finds difficult, so that the tutor can adjust lessons to target these difficulties and make the most out of each tutoring session.
However, there is a slight issue with this tip...
You see, just because you want to work with the tutor doesn't mean they're willing to do the same. Sigma Education is the only tutoring company that openly trains their tutors to work with the both the parent and the student. Embedded into our service is a program designed to help active parents become a part of their child's educational journey.
There are 3 fundamental features of our programs that no other tutoring agency offers. These exist to help active parents stay in the loop of their child's educational journey. So while you should still integrate these other 6 tips into your home-life to benefit your child's schooling, the 7th - and most important when considering tutors - is optimised through Sigma Education's procedures. These features have been created with the vision of a parent and a tutor working together to achieve results for the child. If you are interested in how our program accommodates for both student AND parent, read below and we'll take you through our program. Learn alongside your child.
The 3 differentiating features of Sigma for active parents
1) Homework emailed to you each week
One of the most important parts of building your child into a lifelong learner is teaching them how to learn independently. Homework is one of the most important parts of education. Your child will eventually have to:
Write a research report
Do background research into an assignment or a company before they apply for a job interview
Learn a topic at home by themselves because a school/university teacher has not explained it well.
Sigma aims to encourage parents to become involved in their child's educational journey. This is why, part of our tutors’ responsibilities is to submit your child’s homework online. So now, for those students that may forget or need a little bit of extra motivation you can follow up with your child and make sure that they are doing the prescribed work.
2) Lesson reports every week, not every term
Along with emailed homework, you will receive 'lesson reports'. These will be accessible using the log-in on our website. These reports will be written by our child's tutors and will outline:
Which topics were covered
The progress your child made in that lesson
Some of the things your child found difficult.
3) Goal Setting
At Sigma, we align our tutors’ incentives with your best interest. We ensure and monitor that our tutors all:
Set short and long-term goals for your child
Track your child’s progress with these goals.
Sigma believes that parents who are willing to be active in their children's education should be appreciated, encouraged and supported. Our business has been designed from the ground up with this in mind.
If you're a parent who wants to help boost your child's grades and want to do it with a tutoring service that has your child's best interest embedded into their values, now is your time to book a trial lesson. Once you fill in your details here, one of our co-founders will call you for your free consultation. We will discuss:
Your child's strengths
Your child's weakest subjects
Which one of our friendly tutors is best suited to your child’s needs
How we can work with you to boost your child's grades, foster a keen attitude towards learning and ultimately prepare them for their HSC.
We look forward to working with you here.