Parents with a child struggling to keep up in school may feel that there is nothing they can do, but this is far from the truth. Indeed, educational research insists that parental involvement and participation in their child’s education can make a huge difference in both enthusiasm and skill acquisition.
An essential first step is for parents to maintain a close working relationship with teachers. Find out if the teacher maintains a web page where information about test dates, daily homework, and long-term assignments is posted. Exchange email addresses and keep in touch, even calling once or twice per month to touch base.
Parents should sit down with their child each night to work on homework together. This will give them an opportunity to understand which skills their child has mastered and which are still posing a difficulty; it will also help parents to see that homework is indeed being completed.
Practice makes perfect?
The old adage that practice makes perfect isn’t really true. Instead, it is perfect practice that makes the difference. A child struggling to add fractions will not benefit much from getting ten problems wrong and one right, since that will tend to reinforce computational errors. Instead, practice should continue until the child can solve several problems in a row without errors or assistance.
Students who love to learn find school inherently interesting. Parents should therefore encourage questions and should help their child explore his or her interests with appropriate online learning games or toys.
Encourage silent reading
After 3rd grade, reading is the gateway to every other subject; even math problems require it. Reading itself improves steadily when children practice. A good technique to encourage reluctant readers is to enforce a strict bedtime, but allow children to stay up 30 minutes late as long as they are reading.
Have children read out loud
Children reading to their parents is an excellent way to help them practice in a guided, supportive setting.
Build vocabulary through reading
Research also demonstrates that reading out loud to children helps them to build a much wider vocabulary. This in turn boosts their comprehension skills when they read on their own.
Memorize math facts
Having addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts at their fingertips will allow students to zero in on concepts such as regrouping that they’ll miss if they’re busy counting on their fingers.
Talk about historical time
Students these days tend to have two time frames: now, and “back in the day.” Help your child to grasp the sweep of history better by helping them to distinguish between events 100 years ago and those 500 years ago.
Correct spelling does matter
Parents should make it a point to notice what words are being habitually spelled wrong. Practice such words until children use the correct spelling spontaneously.
A solid foundation
Children with solid academic skills are the ones who will thrive in high school, which of course is the gateway to higher education. This means that a good education from elementary school will greatly increase the chance that a child will eventually go on to college.
College, of course, brings parents a new set of challenges, many of them financial. For comprehensive information on student loans, visit https://www.discover.com/student-loans.