All parents would like to see their child succeed in school – and in life, of course.
Having said this, sometimes they don’t know how to help Johnny or Sally with their homework or with school in general.
(Don’t panic, this tip will work with all other names as well!)
I have decided to write a series of blogs (and make videos) to help parents discover ways to help their child or children.
I must warn you that these tips are not magical or “rocket science,” so if you have no problems dealing with your children and their homework, this might not be the series of blog posts for you.
However, I have had many parents call over the 20+ years of my tutoring, and they are really struggling. Some of these parents are teachers, too! At first glance, this might seem odd, but remember that at home they are just “mom” and “dad.” The relationship with your child is not the same as with your students. There are so many emotional hurdles when your boy or girl is having academic challenges; so, no matter who you are, you are faced with many of the same issues.
This week, I am focusing on The Learning Space.
In your home, you need to find a learning space – a quiet place where studying can be done without interruption.
ARE YOU CRAZY!
I hear that all the time. (As far as I can tell, I am not crazy.) I do understand that this can be a tall order for many. Still, when one really wants to achieve something, it is amazing what can be done.
Look for a corner in a bedroom, or the dining room, or the basement perhaps. You don’t need an entire room.
Have a desk or table in this location and a comfortable but firm chair that encourages sitting up. Having a solid writing surface is important. Lying down on the bed and writing upside down is not recommended – although I know this happens a lot. The chair needs to be comfortable but not too comfortable (note bed above). If everything is conducive to sleep, guess what happens. Good posture, believe it or not, can not only help the body, but it can help the mind as well. (Remember in my earlier posts that I have reminded everyone that the brain is, in fact, part of the body!) You probably have a perfectly good table or desk you can use right now, but I have provided affiliate links that can help as well.
Provide good lighting. With the proper lighting, students don’t become sleepy as fast. You know yourself that if you are reading – even a very interesting book – in dim light your eyes will begin to droop. Imagine trying to focus on geography or science in poor lighting.
If possible, have some shelves or drawers to keep all the basic study tools: pens, pencils, dictionary, math set, rulers, etc. It makes it a lot easier and more efficient if the student does not have to spend half of his or her homework time finding things. If you don’t have room for shelves or drawers, a basket might suffice that can slide underneath or a set that sits beside the desk. (It can even be stored in a closet or elsewhere when not in use.) I know you can be inventive!
One more note about music. There is a lot of debate about whether or not music helps or hinders a student’s performance. In my experience, at least 90% are hindered by it – mostly because it really isn’t being used to assist but rather to avoid. If your child is singing along to the lyrics or can’t hear when the smoke detector goes off because of the volume of music – there is a problem. Music at very low levels, preferably without lyrics, can be useful. It can provide a kind of “white noise” that blocks other more distracting noises, particularly from outside. (Because I know that you have already handled the inside noises within your control.) You can also use devices to provide white noise or simply turn on a fan that gently burrs in the background. Of course these are used to help people go to sleep, so you will have to judge what sounds block the background noise but don’t make you sleepy! Back to where we started, make sure that the location can be quiet. If it is not always quiet there, make a plan such as, “Nobody goes into the living room during homework time except to do homework.” Other children, dogs, pet crocodiles, and – yes – even annoying parents need to respect the quiet time. Turn off the television, the music, the jackhammer (construction will need to happen later), and all other distractions.
Have fun setting up your child’s learning space!
Get your son or daughter involved in the creation of a good learning area. In this way he or she will feel ownership of the space and the learning that is going to happen there. You might be surprised at what a difference this can make.
Students who feel that they have some control over their environment and their learning will put a lot more effort into it compared to those who feel “put upon” and not part of the whole process.
Let me know how you make out in setting up your learning space. I am always interested to hear from you.
Watch for more blogs and videos here about how you can help your child succeed in school. Next week, it is all about the agenda.
Web site: www.tutoringcentral.com
This week’s video: The Learning Space.