We all want our kids to value education. The opportunities it brings — for their personal growth, excitement through achievement, sense of pride, and later jobs and careers — can’t be found elsewhere.
But bringing this value home is a huge challenge.
Because bringing education into your home isn’t about homework, your expectations, or even what the teacher demands.
It’s about how you set up your home learning environment – the ways you react, encourage, and explain the value of education.
To help you set up a home learning environment that will help your children succeed and make you the envy of your mother’s group, here’s what you can do:
You Can’t Force Kids to Care
You can’t force anyone do things they don’t want to — even your children. It’s important to empower your kids to care about their learning. Start by ensuring they have a say in when, where and how they complete assignments.
If you see resistance, don’t offer ultimatums, but ask for their opinion with pointed questions:
- What would make this lesson more fun for you?
- If you do not do your homework, what will be the consequence?
- What is making this subject difficult for you?
Homework is as much about learning responsibility as it is about grasping fractions. This means students should complete it to the best of their ability, pack it up, and get it to school themselves.
Focus on Their Goals
Take the time to understand what your child wants their learning to do for them in life. If they dream of being an astronaut, this can be a useful motivator for getting them to complete their mathematics homework. Reward a job well done with some interest-based learning — like going to a museum or watching a movie about space.
Be Specific with Your Praise
Praise is important. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn’t find compliments motivating. For our students, we should focus our praise on specific areas.
If you know your child has set a goal with their teacher around reading, be sure to give praise when you see them aiming to achieve that. Stress the praise on the effort being put forward. This will encourage action.
Attribute Their Success to Hard Work in Class
Growth mindset is a big concept in education. It is the belief that intelligence can be developed. Students with a growth mindset understand they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies and help from others when needed.
The focus of success should always be the work, not a natural skill. When discussing successes at home make sure to highlight the work they put in, rather than the outcome.
- YES — “You studied so hard for that test; I am so proud of you.”
- NO — “You are such a natural at mathematics.”
Avoid ‘Yes/No’ Questions about School
Instead of asking yes or no questions about the school day, dig deeper. Ask your child to explain concepts to you and encourage them to share fun facts. When children relay information they learn, it helps cement the concepts in their brains.
Talk to Teachers
Showing your child that you and the teacher are partners, in regular contact, is also essential. When you — a person they trust completely — model a strong connection with their educator, it can significantly enhance the student–teacher relationship.
Make sure that your interactions with the teacher are always portrayed in a positive light. You may not always agree with certain learning approaches but bad-mouthing these things in front of your child will undermine the teacher and the educational process.
Keep Open Lines of Communication
Talking to your child’s educator isn’t a once a quarter thing. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open on all fronts. You each have a really important perspective to share and learn from.
As the parent, you know your child’s personality, habits, strengths and weaknesses. The teacher, on the other hand, has been trained professionally in the best methods of teaching and meeting individual student’s needs. When you combine those powers, you can truly multiply their learning outcomes.
When making learning plans, always include your child in the conversation. Ask them how you can help and brainstorm goals and milestones. When students become active participants in their learning, the results can be stellar. Build on this work at home by creating a home-plan for learning and allow your child to lead the discussion.
Make Use of Education Technology
We know that education technology can increase motivation, engagement and student scores. When you incorporate learning programs and online resources into your at-home routine, you meet children where they are and vary their learning methods along the way!