As a parent, it can be frustrating and painful to watch your child struggle with class and homework assignments. It often calls to mind your own battles with learning core concepts as a youngster. Nowadays, there is an abundance of tools, information and resources to assist parents and children with the rigors and challenges of schoolwork. Finding help on just about any topic is but a mouse-click away.
Often the culprit is that many students simply need more time when it comes to arriving at the right answer or processing information during instruction time, and the rigidity of the classroom schedule doesn’t always allow for necessary adjustments. Most teachers go above and beyond to ensure that their students are learning at a proper pace and continuing to grasp the principles being taught, but they are often stymied by district rules, time constraints and a full classroom. Fear not. The Internet Age has allowed parents to tap into an almost unlimited amount of supplemental assistance.
Parents often have far more power and ability than they realize when it comes to motivating and keeping their children on track and current with the themes children are learning in class. According to Michelle Anthony, PhD of Scholastic (scholastic.com), “Supporting your child as you play games together is a great way to foster his social skills.” Games such as “Sorry” and “War” can help hone math skills, word games are excellent tools for boosting vocabulary, and even a routine trip to the grocery store can be a wonderful lesson for kids of all ages in math, comparison shopping, reading nutritional labels, sorting, and colors and shapes. It’s also a prime opportunity to discuss nutrition in general and how important a healthy meal is for providing fuel to learn and staying focused in class.
Websites with educational themes are also amazing resources. iReady, (curriculumassociates.com), which partners with school districts, is outstanding when it comes to helping children stay current and comfortable with the educational principles taught in the classroom. It offers lessons and diagnostic tools for educators to identify instructive areas of concern with each child. With the focus today on Common Core teaching, iReady can help most students keep pace at home with their schoolwork because lessons are designed to directly parallel what’s being taught in class.
According to the iReady website, their program is “A single K–12 adaptive diagnostic for reading and mathematics that pinpoints student needs down to the sub-skill level, and ongoing progress monitoring shows whether students are on track to achieve end-of-year targets.”
As a parent with a child in a San Gabriel Valley school, I can say firsthand how invaluable this service is. My 8-year-old logs-in to iReady every evening as part of her homework. What she loves about the site is that the lessons are geared toward making learning core concepts fun. What I love as a parent is the ability to monitor and keep track of what she learns, as well as how she learns. The results of practice and diagnostic are sent directly to teachers, so educators stay abreast of each child’s progress.
Also worth reviewing is Sumdog (sumdog.com), a website that makes learning math concepts enjoyable. Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org), a website devoted to reviewing child-related products and sites, describes Sumdog as “a way for kids to practice math skills while playing fun, math-related games against friends, classmates, or students from around the world.”
If you want more hands-on help, you may find all the educational assistance you need. Tutoring and enrichment centers, such as Mathnasium (mathnasium.com/pasadena), and Sylvan Learning Center (sylvanlearning.com) offer a comprehensive range of classes and one-on-one coaching in most areas of instruction.
Above all, keep in mind that we are models for our children. They see much of what we do and say. Allow your child to see you problem-solve in a proactive way. Keep adult conversations and subject matter at a minimum when it’s time for homework, and remember how incredibly valuable praise and positive reinforcement are as motivating tools. If there is a toy, treat, trip or age-appropriate TV show that interests your child, encourage them to work for it by doing their best when it comes to assignments both in and out of the classroom. Whether your child has a tendency to struggle or excel when it comes to their education, you as the parent are the guiding force.