If you want your child to be a stellar student, don’t limit learning to the walls of his classroom. Although the skills he’s learning there are crucial to his intellectual and social growth, your child needs your help to open up the world of ideas. His renewed joy in discovery will transfer to his schoolwork, so you’ll boost his academic achievement too!
1. Fill your child’s world with reading. Take turns reading with your older child, or establish a family reading time when everyone reads her own book. Demonstrate how important reading is to you by filling your home with printed materials: novels, newspapers, even posters and placemats with words on them.
2. Encourage him to express his opinion, talk about his feelings, and make choices. He can pick out a side dish to go with dinner and select his own extracurricular activities. Ask for his input on family decisions, and show that you value it.
3. Show enthusiasm for your child’s interests and encourage her to explore subjects that fascinate her. If she’s a horse nut, offer her stories about riding or challenge her to find five facts about horses in the encyclopedia.
4. Provide him with play opportunities that support different kinds of learning styles — from listening and visual learning to sorting and sequencing. Supplies that encourage open-ended play, such as blocks, will develop your child’s creative expression and problem-solving skills as he builds. He’ll need lots of unstructured play time to explore them.
5. Point out the new things you learn with enthusiasm. Discuss the different ways you find new information, whether you’re looking for gardening tips on the Internet or taking a night class in American literature.
6. Ask about what he’s learning in school, not about his grades or test scores. Have him teach you what he learned in school today — putting the lesson into his own words will help him retain what he learned.
7. Help your child organize her school papers and assignments so she feels in control of her work.If her task seems too daunting, she’ll spend more time worrying than learning. Check in with her regularly to make sure she’s not feeling overloaded.
8. Celebrate achievements, no matter how small. Completing a book report calls for a special treat; finishing a book allows your child an hour of video games. You’ll offer positive reinforcement that will inspire him to keep learning and challenging himself.
9. Focus on strengths, encouraging developing talents. Even if she didn’t ace her math test, she may have written a good poem in English class. In addition to a workbook for math practice, give her a writing journal.
10. Turn everyday events into learning opportunities. Encourage him to explore the world around him, asking questions and making connections.