Help your child pass

By admin
29 March 2014

THERE’S nothing more demoralizing for a parent than opening their child’s report card and seeing the words “failed to meet the required standard” next to a subject or their child’s overall mark. Yet this is the reality many parents face when they receive their children’s report cards.

There's nothing more demoralising for a parent than opening their child’s report card and seeing the words “failed to meet the required standard” next to a subject or their child’s overall mark. Yet this is the reality many parents face when they receive their children’s report cards.

If this happens at the end of the year it could mean your child has to repeat the grade, but mid-year there is still time to improve and turn the result into a pass.

Here are expert tips on how to help your child turn academic failure into success.

Create a culture of learning

It’s never too late to teach your child what your expectations are, says social worker Thuli Bottoman.

“Explain to them that doing homework and spending time on their school work is their responsibility and non-negotiable.

“Set down a specific time that they need to work, have a clear workstation and put a ban on distractions such as cellphones, games and watching TV,” she adds.

Parents should check their children’s books to see if they’ve done their work and tell them you’re available to help them, but they need to ask you to assist them.

“Be consistent with your rules. Children will try to take chances to duck their responsibilities. If you’re inconsistent in enforcing house rules, think of the message you’re sending out – that you don’t take their studies seriously,” cautions Thuli.

Be an involved parent

There is always help available and parents should take the initiative by talking to the school educators, says Thuli.

“Make an appointment with your child’s teachers and ask for specific guidelines on how to help your child with their work. That may involve reading, understanding key words so they know how to answer the exam questions, or making past papers available so your child can see how the questions will be asked.

“If it’s a language, it may mean speaking to your child in that language at a set time during the day for practice.”

Other interventions may include finding a tutor (such as a varsity student or retired teacher). “Spending money to pay tutors should be seen as an investment in your child’s future. Parents can rather cut down on going to the movies or other outings if they need to find extra money to pay for tuition.

“Look out for matrics or former pupils in your area who are willing to help for a small fee,” suggests Thuli.

Motivate your child to put effort into improving their marks. “Remind them that getting a good education is a priority that can open up better opportunities for them after school.”

A professional counsellor (educational psychologist) can assist with more serious issues like learning disabilities. “Each child is different, so a profile will be done with the child and parents can then get a tailor-made programme to assist with particular needs.

This will build the child’s confidence as they overcome the learning problem,” advises educational psychologist Claire O’Mahony.

Incentives may help

Some children can be motivated to focus on improving their schoolwork by an incentive, whether it’s internal or intrinsic, says educational psychologist Claire O’Mahony.

“To motivate a ‘lazy’ child it may be helpful to discuss their future and work towards forward planning, by asking ‘What do you want to do after school?’ Research what the academic requirements are to be accepted for such a degree or diploma,” she adds.

“For some children a reward like a new bicycle, a cellphone or an outing at the end of the year may prove to be the catalyst that gets them working harder,” suggests Thuli.

Steer clear of comparisons

Don’t compare your child with other children such as an older sibling, classmate or friends, warns Thuli.

“This will demotivate your child. Avoid saying ‘Look at so-and-so, why can’t you do the same?’ We don’t have the same talents and there’s a difference between intelligence and hard work. Encourage your child to do their best. Rather say ‘Put your mind to your schoolwork. You can do it’.”

The earlier school problems are tackled the better – it will reduce stress and pressure on you and your child and can also bring you closer together, Thuli adds.

Where to find help

Call The Family Life Centre on 011-788-4784 for counselling or to find information on a centre in your area. For contact details of a professional who can assist with a learning problem visit www.therapistdirectory.co.za

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