Help your child study

By Drum Digital
03 May 2014

The first tests are around the corner. Here are some top tips for helping your child study.

Are you feeling anxious about helping your children study for tests, the due dates of projects and how much a particular mark will affect their overall grade. This could put your child under pressure to the result you envision for them. The unfortunate reality is that some of them cannot live up to those lofty expectations.

Parents and teachers should be realistic about children’s capabilities. Reyanah Manuel, a Grade 7 teacher at a primary school in Cape Town, gives advice to parents:

“The best advice I can give parents and guardians is to be present and engaged with your child from the first day of school until the last examination and project has been completed. It should start in Grade R and, we hope, finish long after your child has completed varsity. Taking a genuine interest in your child’s daily life at school, and not only concentrating on what examinations and tasks must be completed, instils a sense of wellbeing in the child.

“Knowing that their parents or guardians are interested in all aspects of their school life will ensure that the children will take a special interest in what is taught. They can then confidently explain to their parents what was learnt each day. This will foster in the child a sense of responsibility and ownership of the knowledge as they must first understand the work if they are going to explain it better to their parents. And you know what? This is the best way (I have found from personal experience), albeit the sneakiest way, of having your child constantly studying without having to do so late at night or with exam pressures looming over them.

“By explaining what was learnt, the child practises and sharpens comprehension skills. They must understand before they can explain. By quizzing your child through conversation, you not only show an interest in the child, you also test their knowledge informally. Two birds, one stone.

“Success in any exam, test or mock exam is how well the content and brief is understood. A child is capable of any task set for them, provided they know what to do and what is expected of them. In a classroom of 30-odd learners, the teacher will try her best to field all questions and queries. However, in an education system that is changing, the onus is also on the child and the parent to commit time to self-study. In today’s increasingly technological culture, information is at our fingertips, provided we know how to use the resources.

“When parents take a genuine interest in what happens in their child’s life, they will not be in the dark or ill-equipped to give aid at home. However, this can be a tall order in a work-oriented society, when parents work longer hours and children are cared for at after-school facilities. But a few conversations about schoolwork with a child makes a huge difference.”

A few tips from Reyanah to guide parents:

  • Encourage your child to read, regardless of the type of reading matter. Do not fall into the trap of thinking comic books are not suitable reading. Magazines, novels, comic books all foster an interest in reading. A child who reads and understands retains knowledge longer and can apply that knowledge.
  • Be an active reader yourself. Practise what you preach. Children emulate their parents, so give them something positive to follow.
  • Love mathematics – even if you don’t, try faking it. Having a positive attitude to mathematics, or any other subject, makes learning it less of a chore for your child. It could also give them a sense of confidence and an “I can do it” attitude.
  • Be there for your child. Encourage and motivate. You might at times feel that threats are the only way to get results. The incentive of the dangling carrot might also not always do the trick. Therefore, speak to your child because more often than not there are underlying reasons for them not showing interest.
  • The best tips or quick fixes are usually the simple ones. Your child wants you to be interested in their life. Through this interest they will feel loved for themselves and appreciated for their efforts. Nurturing will result in children who are stress-free and capable of achieving their goals.

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