Question of the Day: “How do I instill good learning behaviors?”

Education has been so complicated. As a teacher, I struggle every day to address my students’ multiple needs. As a parent, I struggle to help my sons keep their heads above water.

If you are a parent whose children are able to complete tasks independently and need no additional assistance from an adult to complete reading, writing, and math tasks, you can stop reading now. You should also use this time to record this in your gratitude journal.

My children are not these children and the vast majority of my students are not this way as well. I have been working through the last fifteen years, both as a teacher and a parent, to help children learn these valuable lessons.

As a Parent…

  1. We set a time to work every night (Monday-Thursday). Ever since the boys started school, I have sectioned a time at night when we read as a family. When they were young, the time was less and the tasks were minor. I read to them at times and just let them color. As they grew, I extended the time increments. At 10 and 13, we read for 25 minutes and work on homework for at least thirty minutes. Set up a time at night when you can work as a family and you won’t regret it. My son is in seventh grade now, and it is still a struggle to help him stay organized and focused on school work, but he knows the drill. My boys never fight with me or argue that it is time to get to work. We start every night after Jeopardy. We only do this Monday-Thursday. We leave our Friday night open for Movie Night and takeout.
  2. We all work at the same time. School work, quiet time, and work time need be a priority for the family, not just the child. If there are children or even the other parent who doesn’t want to do “work” during this time, they are at least doing something. This can be drawing, coloring, reading, meditating. The point is that there is a time carved out for work that needs to be done. There is never a night when this time is not necessary. Don’t wait until your child’s school work requires them to have the stamina to do hours of school work to try and implement this. Most importantly, your child learns by watching what you do, not always what you say. If you don’t make their learning a priority, they may not as well.
  3. My children are not punished, demeaned, or demoralized for bad grades or missing assignments. School is much harder than when we were there. Trust me. The expectations and stakes are higher than ever. When you yell at your child and take severe punitive measures to scare them into learning, it backfires. Putting a child down and making them believe their mistake in school has undone their education is a wrong move. Period. When a parent tries to scare their child into caring about school, you negate any chance that child may have had to see learning as an opportunity. It is so scary to see your child fail, and it makes so much sense that parents get angry about it, but it’s not helpful. Channeling that anger into asking your child what you can do together to help get back on track is a great move. Help them develop the positive student behaviors they need instead of always telling them what they are doing wrong.
  4. Truly assess what your child is capable of doing. So often we want to believe our child is capable of anything, and we ignore when they show obvious signs of a disability. You cannot always rely on your child’s teacher to detect these disabilities. There are three major disabilities: reading/writing/math. These manifest in varying ways, but the most obvious is your child is not learning the skills necessary to progress. Too often teachers blame this on a child’s inattentiveness, laziness, and lack of motivation. It is wrong to assume you child is not doing work or well because of laziness. It is often a red flag that something more is going on. As a parent, you have EVERY right to request an evaluation for your child. Do not let any school district or teacher tell you differently. If you suspect your child has a learning issue, you can request an evaluation and the school MUST provide it. If they refuse, there are courses of action you can take.

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Love and Light, All!

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