How well is your child doing at primary or secondary school? If things aren't going as well as you'd hoped, or your child is struggling with literacy lessons, there are many simple tricks you can emply to turn things around.

Time is always the enemy every day, especially if you work, you're a single parent or you have a large brood to take care of. So, here are some ideas to help your child do better at school. 

1. Spend 10 minutes reading together every day. It might be during bath time or bed time. If you do this regularly, the routine will pay off. If your child asks to stay up for longer at the weekend, tell them they can read in bed for an extra hour. 

2. Read to your child with expression to teach them how to put meaning into words. Your enthusiasm for reading can also rub off on your child. If you are enjoying the book, they will be more likely to take more notice of it.

3. Get your child to create a 'book' about themselves full of pictures and writing. It can feature their likes, dislikes, favourite things to do/eat, skills and special talents. Get them to give each page a title, labels and a paragraph.

Introduce some fun. Perhaps the family cat's paw prints wander in and out of the book. This activity is a really nice way to build self-esteem, and for you to keep an eye on your child's literacy skills.

4. If you come across a word your child doesn't understand, explore its meaning together in a dictionary. Then play a game to extend learning. Play 'guess the meaning' game. Each find a word that you think the other doesn't know. You have to guess what you think it means.

This is a great way to discover new words, and have fun. If you keep score, it becomes a competition. Kids love beating their parents at this! 

You can also suggest online games to motivate your child to learn. Visit the LearnEnglish British Council for a few online learning games. BBC Bitesize KS2 and KS3 are fantastic resources too! Year 7 and 8 boys would especially enjoy these activities.

5. Take an interest in your child's homework. Children sometimes wriggle out of doing homework when they get back from school, or rush it to get it out of the way. Rather than go into battle with the kids, support them by trying these tips:

  • Encourage them to tackle the most difficult homework first. Sit down with them, offer to go through the task with them and give them plenty of praise when they have finished. 
  • Turn off the TV or radio when your child is doing homework to show them that their work matters. A 'quiet time' can help them to stay focused. 
  • Build in rewards for completing homework. If it's a large piece of homework, you could suggest your child breaks the assignment into chunks. 'Do the first five quetions now and then take a break' can work really well.

Lots of praise is key. Though it feels frustrating when your child shows little interest in their studies, stay positive and upbeat about it. Praise like mad for the smallest achievement. If you keep doing this, your child's self-esteem will grow.

Help your child sprint ahead on the academic track

Let us know how you get on and which tips work for you? In the meantime, when you want to get your son and daughter back on the academic track to help them sprint ahead, drop us a line.

With wonderful private tutors available across Surrey from Weybridge to Guildford, Woking to Cobham, we can inspire your child to grasp literacy concepts in no time.  

Published in Literacy

Homework ... there's no escape. Until earlier this year, students as young as five were expected to have an hour's homework per night - rising to an hour and a half for seven year olds. And longer for Key Stage 3 and 4 students.

These Department for Education guidelines have now been scrapped. Now, schools have the freedom to set their own homework policies. Whether your child is set homework regularly or not, many parents often have a battle on their hands with missing homework, children forgetting or refusing to do it it altogether.

What can you do to avoid the stress? As it can feel like pulling teeth when you want your child to do well, but they have no interest in the subject. 

Get into a routine

One of the reasons why parents struggle to get their children to do homework is that they are often working and haven't got plenty of free time to sit for an hour or two every evening with each child. 

A way to combat this is to have set times when all the children do their homework - ideally at the dining table or in their rooms. Just be sure that they are not distracted by the internet, Facebook or games while studying.

You could either sit with them at the start to get them focused. Checking homework planners can also help you keep on top of their homework schedule during the week.

When you set limits - making it clear that they can enjoy their free time after homework is done - then children are more likely to get used to the system. Just asking ' have you done your homework?' might not be enough. The typical response is 'yes.' 

Praise praise praise 

Children who are negative about school and homework need constant praise for what they have achieved, not what they haven't. So if your son spends 20 minutes on a piece of homework, make a fuss of him. Read it, look at it, tell him how proud you are of him. 

Perhaps you can keep an achievement chart with stars for homework completed (perhaps if your child is in primary school) Over time, a specific amount of stars might earn him something. A new book, comic...

However, if he refuses to do any more homework, you can offer to help (as it might be he doesn't understand something) whilst encouraging him to have a go.

If he still refuses, stay calm. Try not to react. Getting into a verbal fight won't help your stress levels. After all, children should be accountable for their actions. They need to learn about consequences. Use positive language rather than negative: Saying' 'How can I help you to complete this piece of work? Let's try it together' is better than 'If you don't do this now, you can go to your room.' 

Setting boundaries might be met with refusal or grumpiness at first. But if you stick with it, they'll soon come round. Some parents even impose a house rule: no privileges until homework is completed.

A privilege might be going out with friends, access to the internet/iPad games, TV... If you keep giving in, he'll think you didn't really mean it. That working hard doesn't really matter. That refusing to do something is rewarded. 

You would be surprised how many children rethink their situation and opt to complete work when something is taken away from them. Another practical thing you can try is set an egg timer. 10 minutes, then a short break. Then 15 minutes and another short break. 

When you work on the principle of rewards - if you do this, you'll earn the right to do that - you build incentive into the work. Maybe an incentive could be for them to decide what the family will eat for dinner the next night, or a special treat at the weekend. Give children some ownership of their decisions. 

Call in professional tuition

If the battle continues, get professional support. Here at Lemon Tree Tutors we often come across children who don't like studying with their parents, but will happily sit with a tutor who understands how to engage them at their level.

Children don't mean to be difficult. Awkward behaviour is often down to frustration boiling over. Plus children struggle to cope with failure, and don't know how to tell you. 

That's why arranging tuition with a teacher can help children create new patterns of work. 

Published in Private Tuition

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