Learning doesn't stop when the school bell rings. Your child's brain is not full - despite what he or she says. Building a home where learning is nurtured will help broaden children's knowledge, and cultivate an understanding and appreciation for learning that can't be taught through a textbook. Try some of these tips to set your child up for success:
- Give your child a quiet place to study. Think flat surface (a desk or a table), and try to stick to the same spot and general time of day to make homework part of the routine. Older kids may be fine with a bedroom desk, but keep younger ones close by to answer questions and get them back on task if needed.
- Monitor homework. Check your child's homework every night, not just to see whether it's done, but also for quality. Help your child map out chunks of time to tackle larger projects. It's not fun working on a Popsicle stick catapult until midnight.
- Praise your child's efforts. That big refrigerator in your kitchen is prime real estate to display quizzes, projects and art. For times when your child deserves more than verbal praise or bragging rights on the fridge, it's ok to use a small, appropriate reward.
- Encourage learning at home. If your child is interested in insects, buy an ant farm. If it's dinosaurs that catch his or her attention, take a trip to the museum. Keep the brain tuned in by talking about something in the news or a book he or she just read. Fostering full-time learning is one of the best ways you can equip your children for life after graduation and future success.
Tweens and teens
Tweak the type of support you give as your child hits middle and high school. Remain aware of the work he or she is supposed to be doing, but help your child take more responsibility for getting it done and juggling any outside activities. Gentle reminders work better than nagging, and make sure your child knows you're still willing to step in when needed. Here are some other ways to help:
- Show your child how to find the answer to a question rather than just giving it to him or her. It will help with future problem solving and build self-confidence at the same time.
- Talk about school. If you toss your child the classic "What did you learn in school today?" question, you can bet your pension the answer will be "Nothing." Ask specific questions, like what book he or she is reading for English.
- Talk about your own work, which has more in common with school than you might think. Co-workers are like classmates. Performance reviews are like report cards. Sharing your stories - and your challenges - about dealing with people or the work itself can open up new topics for you and your child.
Your support will give your child a huge boost as the school years pass. Your child does not have to be in a classroom to be learning. As a parent, it is important to create a healthy learning environment in your home in order to help build a positive attitude toward education. Work with a Military OneSource education consultant for help with everything from tutors to tuition.