Parent ideas for ages six to 12 old
In a world that is forever changing, knowing how to learn is an essential skill for all students. Alvin Toffler once said “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Here are some tips to assist your child in their study and learning at home:
Tip 1: Take a break after school
One of the most ineffective times to learn is the one hour after school. When your child arrives home allow them time to relax, refuel and refresh. Down time is very important for the brain as this is when it sorts out previous learning and files new information. The brain uses a whopping 20% of the body’s total energy, and learning can be very tiring. Provide healthy, nutritious snacks including nuts, fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, hummus and a big glass of water to refuel and feed the brain. Once your child has recharged, you will find it easier for them to focus on learning or study.
Tip 2: Learn in small chunks of time
If the learning is challenging, or your child is hard to get started, break the task and time into smaller bite size chunks. It is easier to work and focus for 20 minutes than an hour, so set a timer for twenty minutes and take a five minute break before starting again. This helps with motivation and momentum.
Tip 3: Add variety and fun
Most children’s brains love novelty and anything that is different or unusual. Provide coloured pencils, pens and crayons for writing and practicing spelling and basic facts. Invite your child to help prepare a meal and use the vegetable peelings to spell words. Practice maths in a sand or flour tray. When reading, read a page each or use different voices for each page or paragraph. Make it fun for you and them!
Tip 4: Focus on what they don’t know
This may sound counter-intuitive, however practicing what you can already do over and over just makes it easier and easier and does not create more learning. Perhaps you can recall playing the piano as a child and only practicing the easy parts and never getting any better. Learning what you don’t know often feels difficult and challenging – this is the point. The more your child perseveres, the better they will get at it and therefore learn.
Tip 5: Avoid doing it for them
If you continue to do the work for your child, all they learn is that you are better than them. Learning often involves struggle. Remember when your child learned to walk, or ride a bike? They wobbled and fell over/ off. This is a very important part of the learning process. When a butterfly hatches from the cocoon, if you help it out it will die. It is the struggle that causes the wings to strengthen and therefore be able to fly. Allow your child time to work out an answer or solve a problem. Ask encouraging questions. Walk away if it gets too challenging, take a deep breath and go back to support your child. I often take my daughter to a coffee shop to do her assignment as we both stay calmer in a public place.