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SchoolFamily Voices

Join our bloggers as they share their experiences on the challenges and joys of helping children succeed in school.

Does Your Child Know how to Study?

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Livia McCoy has spent twenty-six years teaching science to students with language learning disabilities. In addition to teaching students daily, she trains teachers and runs workshops for teachers and parents who want to know more about how to help their struggling students.

Livia’s book, When Learning is Painful: How to Help Struggling Students -- A Resource for Parents and Teachers was published in 2009.

Almost every time a student is asked how they studied for a test, they will answer, "I read over my notes."  What they do not know is -- reading notes is not studying.   It seems obvious that this works for many students, since they make it all the way through high school thinking this is the way to prepare for tests. Often it is not until college that they find out this is not enough.

In order to prepare for a test -- to really study -- students must do an activity that requires them to remember the material without looking at it.  Reading, highlighting, and organizing notes is step one.  From there she must decide what is likely to be on the test.  It helps to ask, "What was covered in class?  What did the teacher say was important?  What key terms were emphasized in the text?"  These activities are in the preparatory phase of studying. The next step is to take some action to learn.

Parents or friends can call out questions to find out if the student has learned the material. Or the student can prepare note cards with a question on one side and its answer on the other.  With these cards (or a similar folded chart that hides the answers), the student can quiz himself.  Once a card or concept is clearly learned, the student can remove that card from the stack and only study the ones not yet mastered.

The next time your son or daughter is asked, "How did you study?"  The answer will be more definitive. "First I organized my materials, then I made a study chart.  After that, I quizzed myself to make sure I knew everything."

Now they know that to really study they must both prepare to learn and also take an action.

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Good Social and Emotional Development Equals Early School Success

Part of the framework for early school success is a child's social and emotional development. A positive self-concept, appropriate self-control, and awareness of interacting with others will help your child learn. Play is a great vehicle to build self-confidence and relationships.

Here are five easy ways to help your child practice and develop these crucial skills.

  • Set up “play-dates” with classmates or neighborhood children. In good weather make sure there is lots of outdoor play. If indoors, make sure it’s a “no electronics” time.
  • Encourage individual creative play by giving your child a few objects and let them create something. For example, paper plates, ribbon, brown paper bags, old buttons, crayons, glue, and scissors, etc.
  • Take 20-30 minutes to explore a park with a slide, swings, jungle gyms, etc. Observe how your child interacts with other children. If your child was shy, or too aggressive “role play” on the way home about what could have been done or said to interact differently.
  • Practice “conversation skills.” Model good speaking (eye contact, clear voice) and good listening (eye contact, nodding) so that your child learns good conversation consists of these two parts.
  • Teach responsibility with a small daily or weekly “job.” (Setting the table, putting objects in the recycling bin, separating darks and lights for the laundry, etc.)
Simple activities like these allow children to build confidence, take pride in accomplishments, and accept rules and routines in a learning environment.
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When It Comes to Homework, Not All After-School Programs Are the Same

Most days when my son gets home from school, his homework is finished. While this is really, really nice, what really makes it great is that his homework is done correctly.

There are different types of after-school programs, and each type will have its own homework philosophy, goals and focus. For some programs, homework will be a priority, but for others, fun and recreation or enrichment activities such as art, music or dance may take center stage. 

How do you know if homework is a priority at your after-school program?

  • Does the program mention homework in its brochure, website and materials? Do they say it is a priority? If they don't mention homework, it's probably not a priority.

  • Does the program have dedicated space and time to complete homework? There should be a homework area (a separate room is ideal) for students to work on their homework. This environment should be quiet and free from distractions (usually those students not doing homework!)

  • Does the program have proper homework materials, supplies? Paper, pencils, reference books?

  • Does the program have an adult supervising the homework area? An adult staff member should be available to answer questions, to make certain that no copying (cheating) is taking place and to keep students focused on finishing their work.

If the program seems to do only a fair job with homework, consider allowing your child to do his "easy" homework there and save the important homework for home. For example, my daughter often did those (silly) math and spelling worksheets at the after-school program, but saved reading, writing and special projects for home.

If the after school homework program is not up to snuff, please don't insist that your child participate. Wrong, rushed, sloppy, copied homework is a waste of everybody's time. Let your child spend the afternoon playing, relaxing, and eating a snack. He will be in a much better mood to do his homework later.

When trying to decide if your child should do any or all of his homework at the after-school program, please consider his unique personality. Some children need a break right after school, while others have no problem doing their homework immediately. Give your child the Homework Personality Quiz to determine if after your school's homework program is a good match for your child.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?

Yes - 31.6%
Sometimes - 25.4%
No - 37.4%

Total votes: 4919
The voting for this poll has ended on: June 25, 2016