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10 Tips For Supporting Your Child At Home

Apr 1, 2008
Parents often turn to tutors for advice about how to help their child at home. A tutor will come across as more professional and knowledgeable if he or she has immediate ideas that can be either verbally explained or even presented to the parent in writing.

Feel free to offer the following tips to parents inquiring about supporting their child at home.

1. Build and Stick to A Routine: Help your child organize his day. He should know when he is expected to complete homework, do chores, exercise, play, eat, bathe, and relax. Make sure that he is not over-scheduled and that you have included a little down time for him each day.
2. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Teach your child that many factors impact how well they learn and how well they do in school and that these are not all academic in nature.

a. Exercise: Encourage regular exercise. It will increase blood flow throughout the body and make it easier for your child to learn. You might find that tackling homework after a child runs around and plays for a little while might be easier than starting homework immediately after a child gets home from school.

b. Sleep: Establish a bedtime that will give your child enough sleep so he or she will feel well rested and not groggy during the school day.

c. Diet: Be sure that your child eats a healthy breakfast each morning. Model this for your child and share a few minutes of together time as you share a meal in the morning. Teach your child about healthy and unhealthy food choices and help them understand that diets high in fat and sugar will not only lead to health problems and obesity but also difficulties in the classroom.

d. Avoiding Distractions: Hours spent watching TV, playing video games, talking on the phone, and listening to music can add up and detract from time spent studying, exercising, or with family. Work with your child to establish reasonable limits on these activities.

3. Organize Areas: Nothing is more frustrating early in the morning than a child searching for his homework, shoes, lunchbox, hats and gloves, etc. minutes before the bus arrives. Establish a space in your home where your child is expected to put all of his "school-related" items. Have your child make sure this area is organized every night before bed and it should make the morning rush feel less rushed.

4. Create a Study Space: Find a place in your house which your child feels comfortable completing homework easily and efficiently. Designate a location that is comfortable, quiet, well lit, roomy, and filled with supplies that your child may need. Encourage your child to spend a specific amount of time each day in this location completing homework, studying, reviewing notes, or simply reading for enjoyment.

5. Read, Read, Read, and Read: Parents of young children often spend hours reading stories to their little ones. This enjoyment of books shouldn't stop when children become old enough to read on their own. Set aside a specific amount of time for reading each day. Allow your child to pick out the stories that they find interesting and discuss what they read often. Model good reading habits for your child by letting them see you read for enjoyment.

6. Model the Importance of Lifelong Learning: As mentioned before, try to have your child "catch" you reading often. In addition to reading, have your child witness you "learning" and/or "working". For instance, sit down and pay bills while they are doing their homework. Allow them to see you applying math to accomplish adult tasks such as paying bills. Watch the weather channel and look up locations that were mentioned during the forecast on a map in your house or research what is meant by barometric pressure on the internet. Help children understand that even adults don't know everything and they have a lot left to learn.

7. Talk to Your Child and Show Interest in Their Life: Make it a point to have a daily discussion about what is going on in your child's life. Inquire about school, friends, anxieties, excitements and disappointments. Serve as a good listener and withhold judgment during the discussion. Try to bring the family together at least once a day for a family meal so everyone can engage in a comfortable family discussion.

8. Stay in Contact with Teachers: Many parents are surprised when report cards come home and the grades or comments don't match their expectations. Avoid surprises by staying in regular contact through the phone or email with your child's teachers. A child that expects the choices they make at school to be discussed between teacher and parents will most likely make better choices than someone who thinks that their parents will never find out what they do in school.

9. Set Standards and Appropriate Consequences: Sit your child down and decide on appropriate behaviors and expectations. Discuss good and bad decisions that he or she might make and how these decisions should be dealt with. Kids may surprise you with how sensible they are. Let them help you decide on reasonable consequences and then stick to them. Help them to realize that every decision they make in life has repercussions and unfortunately, not all are pleasant.

10. Be Positive, Offer Encouragement, and Love Your Child: Even children with the best intentions will not always make the best choices. As a parent, it is your responsibility to provide your child with opportunities to learn and grow from mistakes. Allow them to make educated choices and then teach them how to deal with the repercussions in a positive manner. Help them to believe that whatever choices they make, or amount of trouble they are in, or how terrible they may feel, that they always can turn to you for support, love and guidance. Remind them that although you may not be happy with their choices at times, you will always love them.
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