I thought I’d share some hints and tips with you about school and helping kids through it. I wanted to do this today so you can be ready for the new term in January but also because it was 10 years ago today I got my teaching qualification! So here are my tips for making study go smoothly:
- Be Prepared: Have a copy of their timetable at home so you can both see it, then you’ll know what days they need sports kit or cooking ingredients. Also, it’s worth checking the school calendar regularly for things that might affect them and/or you… I know my daughter’s parent’s evening is in January because it’s on the calendar, but I won’t get an official letter about it until the new term.
- Routine is your friend: Set meals and bedtimes are good for everyone, so unless there’s a special occasion, they need the right amount of rest and food to fuel them through the day.
- Don’t overkill the studying: If they have big homework projects or revision for exams, they shouldn’t do more than 1 hour without a break…human beings (no matter how old) can’t concentrate for more than 50-60 minutes, that’s why lessons are that long! So if there is a big task, an hour a night will be enough. If they have several small homework tasks, then prioritise by the date they’re due. If they all have to be done on the same day, then make sure they have a minimum of 10 minutes break in between (a proper break, in a different room with food and maybe some music or a video to switch off for a minute.) A timer will help them focus on each one of their tasks.
- Manage expectations: If they usually do a certain chore or attend a club/group some evenings then you need to know when to let them slide. If a pupil has just had 2 weeks of exams they could probably miss swimming or not change their bed until the next day….sometimes rest is just more important.
- Play to their strengths: Example; If you have a child who is artistic but not very strong in Maths, then use the art to help with the Maths…they can revise using mind maps (artistic flow-charts), they may be brilliant at the charts and graphs part of Maths so start with those as a confidence-boost, you can find worksheets online that are colour by numbers where they have to work out the sum to get the colour number…there are hundreds of ways, Google it or check out Pinterest for fun study ideas.
- Be positive and goal-focused: If you say you hated school, it was a waste of time etc, then the children will have that attitude too. Even if you are the fully-supportive and optimistic parent, there will be days when they come home miserable; it is your job to remind them why they’re doing this…it’ll be worth it for that career they want (even if they don’t know what job they want yet, English and Maths will always help and the more subjects they pass, the better).
- Above all, let them be themselves: If they choose to major in a subject you’re not keen on…it’s their life, not yours. If they choose all artistic or sporting options and you’re worried “it won’t pay well” or “it’s not a proper job” (it’s scary how often I hear that) then talk to them calmly and rationally about a back-up plan, some work experience or some life skills you can teach them so they have a reserve of skills and ideas. Basically, avoid you both being miserable by supporting the main goal (no matter how outlandish it may seem to you…within reason of moral and legal grounds of course) and offer a second option, not a replacement for the first… because they may be the next Da Vinci or Michael Jordan or Gordon Ramsey!
Have a great day, weekend and Christmas holiday (those who have broken up already…we don’t finish til Wednesday!)