There are always kids who love to read, love to study, and find true fulfillment in school work and expanding their minds. And then you have the other 95% of children -- those who would rather be outside playing with friends, riding bikes or watching SpongeBob. If you are like me, you may have a child who fits the second parameter. How in the world do you help encourage your child?
First, create a good study location for your child. Make it a friendly, welcoming and warm place, near you so that you can be available for guidance, support and redirection. Offer a snack, allow your child to get the wiggles out, and then have her sit down and start the work. Allow breaks every 15 minutes, and be available to help your child get back to studying.
Be in contact with your child's teacher. Maybe she has some guidance as to subjects at which your child excels, and quite possibly, she has encountered a reluctant student in the past. Is it at all possible that your child has a learning disability? We discovered that one of my children has a processing disorder, that combined with dysgraphia and ADD, made learning a monumentally uphill struggle. With proper guidance and careful medication, the results astounded all of us.
Is reading material the stumbling block for your child? Take your child with you to the bookstore and allow him to pick out his own preferred books. Don't underestimate the power of a cartoon book -- my own son loves to read the Calvin and Hobbes series as well as the Zits books, and he has become a phenomenal reader. Don't forget to let him see you enjoy reading! Talk about books that you have enjoyed and why you liked them, and encourage your child to share his favorite. Talk about an alternate ending.
Pick a subject that appeals to your child -- rocks, lizards, dinosaurs, cars, ballet -- and do a weekend unit of study. Let your child see that research doesn't have to be a dry and inorganic matter of sitting at a desk and reading boring textbooks. Find ways to bring the subject matter to life. Don't forget field trips, hands on experimentation and even play acting. Show your reluctant student that learning doesn't begin and end at school but occurs all day long, year round.
Finally, make homework a non-negotiable issue. Find the time that works best for your family, make a schedule and stick to it. A child with many after school activities may need to do homework after dinner, while a younger child may do best to complete homework right after school. Teenagers with jobs will need to learn time management and strategies for fitting their activities in without sacrificing their sleep. Above all, try to avoid making homework a power struggle. If you stay calm and in control, you might be very surprised at how much the battle decreases!
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