Six-year-old Mandy has a math paper and a reading assignment to do for homework. She rushes through the math, leaving errors in her path like Hansel and Gretel’s crumbs. She reads an assignment about frogs, but skips paragraphs and doesn’t remember what she read. What’s a parent to do? You could try bribery, but that is a temporary fix. You could try punishment, but that is very counterproductive. Or… you could try the FUN method of helping your child to slow down and create A+ papers at home and in school.
- F stands for FIND the fun. Teachers plan their assignments for every child. Math word problems involve general topics of interest to most kids. The reading assignments are likely required by Common Core Standards, and the rest of the curriculum is dictated by state requirements. Where’s the fun in that? Picture it from your viewpoint. You are a salesperson in a department store. Your day is filled with meeting other people’s needs and wants. When you get off of work, all you want to do is whatever makes you happy. You might jog, experiment with a new recipe, or volunteer at the library. You find your fun! On the othe rhand, with kids, we all expect them to do well despite the lack of fun.
So how can you create the fun for your Mandy? By using her interests to help her find the fun during the assignment, rather than having her look for the fun after the assignment. Let’s say that she loves her dog, and she has to do a page of simple math problems. Show her how to use her interest in dogs to make those problems more interesting. For example, if she finds a problem where she has to add two plus seven, she can picture two dogs and their seven puppies. This will encourage her to find out how many dogs she has in the corner of the kitchen where she’s doing her homework.
One more example: Mandy likes to do cartwheels. Tell her that after every correct math paper or after completing her reading assignment (where she tells you what she read!), she can do three cartwheels for you. Those last two words,"for you", are the most important Children love showing off their skills so let them have some fun showing you how they can do cartwheels and finish the homework. This fun attitude will carry over into her school day.
- U stands for USE their strengths. Everybody does something well. You might be a good cook, or a driver with no tickets, or an employee of the month. Perhaps Mandy is the star soccer player. Give her motivation to succeed by showing her that student athletes can get scholarships to play for collegiate teams… but only if they maintain a high average throughout their school years. Or maybe Mandy got a little medal that says "Best Artist". Show her that she can use her artwork to support her other subjects. Maybe she can draw those nine puppies instead of simply visualizing them in the corner of the kitchen. Perhaps she can draw the main character in the reading assignment so that she remembers the character more easily.
- At a teacher conference, help your child’s teacher understand Mandy’s strengths. After all, the teacher has about twenty-five students to follow. Some may be needier than others. Some may be more independent than others. There are some who may be lost in the middle somewhere. If your Mandy is that child in the middle, the teacher will be more likely to notice her accomplishments if you show her how Mandy is different in some way such as the fact that she volunteers with you at a soup kitchen, that she helps take care of her baby sister, that she likes to decorate cupcakes. Whatever it is, let your child’s teacher know that he or she is unique in some way, which will show that teacher about your child’s strengths.
- N stands for NOTICE their successes. Instead of focusing on all the answers Mandy got wrong, look at all the answers she got right. Show her how she successfully answered those problems and help her to see that the same strategy can carry over to the ones she needs to correct. If she needs to answer four questions on her reading assignment, find one question that has good handwriting and a correct answer. Hold that up as the model of her success. She will be more likely to answer the rest of the questions in that manner if she knows you noticed her correct answer. Too often, parents focus on the wrong answers or the bad test grades. This, in a child psychologist’s viewpoint, brings positive attention for negative behavior. Your job as a parent is to provide positive attention for positive behavior to cement that behavior into her work ethic.
Everyone has that ubiquitous refrigerator door filled with A+ papers and wonderful report cards, but that’s not the only way to notice your child’s successes. Tell your child what you see being done well in specific words. When you say, “Good job! That’s a wonderful paper!,” you tell your child nothing about what she did right. You should say instead, “Good job! You must have checked your answers, because you got them all right!” See the difference? You need to get creative when you compliment your child’s work so that they can see what you see: small victories that lead to great successes!
Help your child find the fun in her school work and she will use her many strengths. She will see that you notice her successes and acknowlege them, which is something all kids want. Read More...
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