Some children are naturally tidy, organised with their homework and find it easy to remember things. Others are not like that. And in my case, my children sometimes surprise me by their independence and organisational skills and sometime drive me crazy with messiness and lack of desire to study.
So I decided to look into what a parent can do to make the child better at their learning and organisational skills.
First and the most important thing to remember is do not expect too much from your child as those skills depend on the brain as well as motor-skills development. For example, the frontal lobes are responsible for the skills of getting things accomplished. That part of the brain is not fully developed in the primary school (see Russel Barkley book Taking Charge of ADHD).
Secondly, being organised and know how to study is a skill that has to be learned (and taught).
Therefore, teach your children all available techniques and hacks to make the learning easier for them.
So here are my six tips on how to help your child to be a better learner:
1. Understand your child’s learning style. What works for you or your friend’s children may not work for your kids. Liz Franklin suggests in her book three types of learning/organisational styles such as visual, spatial and chronological. My children have a combination of visual and spatial style so we use a lot of pictures and movement for learning. Myself, I remember things when I put them in sequence or chronological order (for example, I will find something quicker if I remember when I saw something last time not where). Play around with the three styles to see what works better in your house.
2. There are techniques to remember things better. When my kids where younger I picked some tips from 30 Days Has September book by Christopher Stevens that makes remembering spelling or facts easier. For the older children, you may have a look at Mind Map for Kids by Tony Buzan. The book gives practical tips on how to remember things better by building a visual map of a concept.
3. Keeping your child’s engagement with the right level of challenge. I like Tony Robbins’ teaching method that for a person to enjoy what they are doing they should be challenged just enough not to be bored but not too much to keep the person anxious and overwhelmed. When one milestone is achieved, you move the target just a bit higher.
4. Allow time for rest and breaks. Elementary school children need breaks every 15 min while middle school kids can study without a break for 20-30 minutes (5 min breaks). Sleep requirements range from 12 to 10 hours depending on the child’s age.
5. Importance of routine and advanced planning. Having a regular schedule for reading or homework reduces the time of arguing. If you keep the weekly planner that you discuss with your child before the week starts and he/she knows that there is time for reading, that there is time for homework or for a project – you will argue less about it. The same is true for avoiding morning arguments: prepare clothes and school bag the night before so there is no time pressure.
6. Tidiness of physical space: Don’t take me wrong, I am not the tidiest person and I appreciate the value of a mess for the creativity, but when you try to get ready for school in the morning or find homework which is due the next day, having an order helps. Also tidiness means less destructions.
a) Teach your children to tidy up their room. To help folding, there is my favourite hack for children with the cardboard.
If you want to get some superb tips on storage and folding to pass to your children, check out the queen of the art of tidying, Marie Kondo who sold a 8.5 million copies of her two books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying.
b) Keep a regular place for all homework assignments – paper goes there straight after school and put back there after being completed.
c) Keep destruction during studying to the minimum – no TV, talking on the phone, etc.
I hope you will find these tips helpful and do share your own hacks for learning.
Also have a look at our newsletter for this week to see what is happening at the club (here).