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Do you struggle with your child’s schoolwork?
Is homework a constant fight?
Does he or she lack motivation?
When a child falls back in school, it is important to try and understand “why”. Why do children fall back and what makes them learn effectively?
Working with my boys, understanding their fears and their struggles, has helped me.
1. Check that emotion
We take in all our information through our brain’s emotional gateway. If we don’t like something, if we are angry or scared, we close down this emotional gateway. We stop the learning process.
Think about it. Can you focus on a conversation before a big meeting? When we are anxious or nervous we close our brain’s emotional center, barring information from going in.
Breaking down this fear is important. It is essential to tackle the fear first. Games, conversations, learning by doing, and simple content below grade level, are some effective strategies to tackle fear.Some children love math, while some are terrified. Fear slows down the learning process. Negative emotions are driven by experiences – a bad connection with a teacher, a preset mindset or even something simple like missing an important lesson.
2. Focus on understanding – the essential foundation
A common reason why children fall back academically is because they struggle to understand or comprehend. Research has shown a strong correlation between academic achievement and comprehension. Today comprehension is a bigger problem as fewer children read.
These are some telltale signs that provide us a hint on whether our children are struggling with comprehension:
Often, when children lose interest and fall back in class, structured comprehension helps them understand and catch up. Good comprehension makes children self-learners.
3. Making learning relevant
Children today need to make sense of what they are doing. If they decide what they learn has no relevance to their lives they lose interest. Their world is in high definition colour while their classrooms are drab, repetitive and unconnected with their real world.
John Dewey, a well know philosopher and education reformist, aptly said ““If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”
We cannot change curriculums but we, as parents, can help connect what they learn in school with the world around them. Interactive content, hands-on experience, discussions, and field trips are great ways of connecting what they are learning with the real world.
4. Get them used to working
Performance is about understanding, intelligence and hard work. Often children have not been exposed enough to work.
Work is not only about schoolwork. Children must learn early on that work is a standard part of life. Get them to do chores around the house: take the garbage out, fix the mess in their room, take care of their clothes and books, fold laundry or walk their pet.
When children realize that work is a part of everyone’s life they incorporate that in school work, extracurricular activities, and even sports. Success only happens if we work at it.
5. Deal with Grit
Grit is a desire to work consistently and passionately towards a goal. It is about perseverance and stamina. Children who have grit and a healthy competitive spirit perform better than even those who have a higher IQ.
Parents are eager to provide what they themselves were denied. However, getting things too easily might kill grit. Robert Heinlein, a famous writer, aptly said, “Don’t handicap your child by making their lives too easy.” Children who are far removed from the reality of failure and the power of hard work might find it tougher to build grit and resilience later in life.
Parents must work at building grit, focusing on rewarding hard work, rather than talent. Love is about not giving in!
Parenting is a learning process and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. What works for one might not for another. The one common magic solution I am sure of is love spelled as T-I-M-E!