Most children start school with a positive attitude and an open willingness to learn. They attend kindergarten classes where they learn basic skills as well as social skills needed to be part of a group of learners. First and second grades build upon basic foundation concepts and social development grows as children learn to work with others.
In most cases, third grade is the first real experience children have of their active role in the learning process. It is a year when many students experience stress from academic pressure for the first time, as they seek to grasps new concepts as multiplication and division are learned and practiced.
Parents see their children becoming frustrated and seek to offer comfort. Oftentimes, this comfort comes with a price to the children which parents aren’t aware of.
Many parents share with children that they too found math challenging as a child. They may go on to tell stories of their own childhood struggles, poor grades and lack of understanding.
These words spoken with good intent have a tendency to backfire for many students. What children hear from a parent’s well-meaning words is, “I was not good at math therefore, neither are you”.
This admission of academic weakness from the parent becomes an excuse, a reason if you will, for children not to put forth much effort. They feel they have been given permission to perform poorly.
A preconceived attitude of defeat does not serve students as they seek to understand concepts in any academic area. Therefore, it is best not to introduce this type of thinking.
The good news is there are constructive ways for parents to offer assurance and support to struggling students. Following are some suggested ways for parents to offer encouragement and understanding while facilitating and promoting academic development.
1. Let children know you have full confidence in their abilities. (Use matter of fact language. Leave no doubt that you believe in them.)
2. Create a specific time and place in the home for homework to be completed. (This adds structure and organization to their physical environment, as their mental abilities are being challenged.)
3. Have an adult in close proximity when children are doing homework. (This serves to keep them on task and to offer assistance if needed.)
4. Reinforce that some things take time and practice. (Tell them it is like a puzzle they may have had as a toddler. At first it was difficult, but over time the puzzle became easy to solve.)
5. If your child becomes frustrated, ask school officials for resources in tutoring. (Many schools offer morning or afternoon tutoring, or know professional who are willing to help.)
Your attitude towards their learning is a huge indicator of their level of determination. Be positive about learning. Celebrate even the small successes. This encourages children to continue working towards their goals. Your support, attitude and follow through will help to instill a positive self image as your children grow and learn.