Whether your child is having trouble in a particular subject in school or aspires to sink a slam dunk, setting a schedule to practice his or her skills can help. However, don't overwhelm your child with too much practice or sessions that are too long or rigorous. With each scheduled practice session, set a goal — to complete three sheets of math homework, read one chapter in a book or make at least 10 baskets, for example — rather than designating a set amount of time to practice.
Before your child has the chance to get behind in a certain subject in school, practice preventional practice. For example, if your child dislikes a certain subject or tends to slack off in that area of homework, work with your child or find a tutoring service that can help your child practice that particular subject in a way that makes it less daunting, boring or challenging.
In addition to helping your child become more comfortable with a school subject or extracurricular activity, practice teaches your child about perseverance. Sure, he may be tempted to give up if he can't make a home run in P.E. or keeps failing his spelling tests. However, with continued practice, children will not only begin to grasp a concept but will begin to understand that if they try hard at something, they will likely get better.
Instead of making practice — at an extracurricular activity or school subjects — seem like a chore, try to turn it into something fun for your kids. Create age-appropriate games and incentives so your child will want to practice rather than feel she has to.
If your child dreams of becoming the next Liberace, take her to some piano concerts and enlist the services of a piano teacher to help him hone her skill. Or if your child longs to be a famous quarterback, take him to college or professional football games to watch the players and perhaps even meet some of them. No matter what your child aspires to be, help her understand that even the greats — who may seem to have natural talent or to have become successful overnight — still have to practice to maintain and improve their skills.
While practice is a good thing, even too much of a good thing isn't good. Give your child a day or two off between practice sessions to help him avoid getting burned out.
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