Education Tips: Help Children Learn

It is frustrating when you send your child off to school and realize that the teacher doesn't have time to teach. As a parent you can take steps toward helping your child learning.

So what do you do when your child, whom you know is bright and eager to learn, comes home from school with bad marks on his papers and seems to be behind the rest of his class?

Most teachers in public schools today are overwhelmed. They have to many students and they just can't take the time some kids need to learn and realize their full potential. While I realize this is an appalling thought, this is their job and we shouldn't have to teach our own kids, there is not always much we can do to change it.

Public schools in most parts of the United States are understaffed and underfunded. While trying to cover the basics of learning that are essential to our children's future, the teachers don't always have time to spend with the child who doesn't grasp a concept the first time.

When my son started kindergarden this year, I was looking forward to a learning adventure. He would have fun and learn the things he needed to move on in school and the rest of the world, I was proudly wallpapering the livingroom with his papers each day. My husband and I thought he was improving by leaps and bounds. I was therefore severely shocked when I got a call from his teacher informing me that he was behind the rest of the class and couldn't write his own name properly. We knew that he was capable, he did it at home without any severe problems. So what was happening when he left on that big yellow bus each morning to change that?

The teacher has two kindergarden classes each day of 20 students each. I have found that she most often moves at the pace of the above average students which leaves the average five and six year olds in the dust. Since she is in such a hurry to fit the lessons that the school district says she must into the few hours she has with them each day, she doesn't have the time to repeat herself to those kids who need an extra minute or two to master something, thus giving the impression that a child is way behind when they really aren't.

As a parent at home, I began to wonder what I could do to help him learn what he needs and still keep him excited about school and learning. So in this article I am going to try to provide some practical advice to help you do the same for your children who may be experiencing the same problem. I know how frustrating it can be to watch a bright, witty child fall behind and be disappointed in themselves.

First of all, make sure that both you and your child know exactly what they are capable of handling. If you are in doubt of your child's development, don't be afraid to consult your doctor. Many learning problems and disabilities can be handled easier the earlier they are discovered. If you are like me and find out they are normal for their age, then the ball is in your court to do what the schools and teachers won't. Also don't be shy about calling the school or the teacher and letting them know what your child is capable of as well as how they handle stress. My son gets stubborn when he gets stressed, the more problems he has, the more he says he can't do it, then that is the longer that he just won't try. In some cases as a parent it is easier and smarter to say "I know you can!" and just walk away and wait for them to do it. You will also want to let the teacher know if this is the way your child works. As soon as my son's teacher listened to me and stopped telling him it was okay to trace his name, he realized he had to do it and hasn't had a problem with that since.

When your child brings home papers showing what they did in school that day, take the time to look them all over. Praise is a very important part of raising a good student. Stress the things they did well, don't gripe about what they didn't. In a lot of classrooms, the kids are copying onto their papers what the teacher told them to, or what was on the board. So reinforce what they did at home to make sure they actually learn and retain the information. Go over their papers with them, print your own similar papers that they can do at home. This way you can answer any questions or address any problems early on before they become a deep seated issue.

Keep as many of their past papers as possible even when they move on to something new. Hang them up or keep them in a special folder. That way at times you can go over those lessons with them again so they know it is necessary to remember and not just forget when they move on to the next assignments. Even when the teacher doesn't assign homework, feel free to assign your own. Have them practice letters or numbers, in the case of older children, require that they bring home their books and study before they are allowed any other activities each day. This way even if the school isn't making learning important to your child, you are doing so at home.

Sometimes a teacher in a hurry who runs off copies of papers or activites for the classroom doesn't pay attention if they print off to light. Some children have trouble seeing these and therefore seem to have trouble learning. If in doubt get their eyes checked, even young children in kindergarden and preschool can wear corrective lenses if necessary to help fix a problem and realize their full potential. I realize it only takes a second or two for a teacher to darken in some necessary lines or letters, but the plain fact of the matter is that sometimes their busy schedule doesn't give them those extra seconds. If your child is having a problem like this, speak to the teacher about letting them sit closer to the front of the room. If you make the teacher and school aware of these types of issues, then they will often do their best to help overcome them.

An important issue to address with your child is the recognition of letters and numbers. Learning them won't do your child any good in the future if they can only recognize them in a certain sequence. For most children this is an issue since they start off with the number one and the letter A and move on from there. You will want to make sure your child can comprehend that the same letters are used in words like God and dog and in number sequences like 1,2,3 and 3,2,1, even though the order varies. An easy way to do this is with flashcards, you can either buy some at a store or print your own. Pick out for your child the letters and numbers they are currently working on at school. Hold them up and have them tell you what each one is in various orders so you instill the recognition of each no matter where they see them. Have them take the flash cards and put them in proper alphabetical or numerical order.

For older children, keep track of their courses and assignments. Read over their notes each day. Quiz them and see how well they are grasping the concepts. Make sure books and papers come home so you know what needs done and when. If your child isn't bringing them home, talk to the teacher and ask them to keep you updated on what is being covered so you can help your child and aid their progress. Never do their work for them, simply reiterate what they are learning in the classroom and make sure they know the actual figuring needs to be done in their own heads. Answer questions and go over any particularly troublesome topics with them, but instill in them the importance of standing on their own.

Perhaps most important is to make learning fun. You can find educational books, games and videos on virtually any topic your child may need and in most cases you can get ones that feature your childs favorite characters to really hold their interest. If he learns math concepts from a talking dog or singing turtle, he has still learned them. Be sure to give rewards for work well done, a special treat, an extra hour of TV or video games. This will let your child know that there are benefits earned from applying themselves. Take an interest in all of your child's work, brag about them. Building their self esteem in this manner will show them that you appreciate the effort they have put in and will give them a reason to undertake the next task set before them. I know we all get busy, but just a few extra minutes a day spent with our children can make the difference between an avid learner and a drop out.

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