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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: How to Help Children Study at School

January 29, 2022

Studying is a basic obligation of the child in his role as a student, and this is something that every parent should keep in mind. Only then will the child be able to feel the joy of learning, the satisfaction of achieving goals, and cultivate his self-esteem.

However, it is very important for parents to help the child to take on this role with joy, offering motivation and providing the appropriate conditions. Suggestions for promoting learning follow:

  1. The program

The first important step is to have a discussion with the child and outline with him the program for the day, after school, according to his needs. Ask him when does feel tired or needs to rest to help decide on the best time to study. Explain to him that pleasure and fun are more intense when one has completed his daily obligations and use phrases such as “first… and then…” or “when…and then…”

In this way, the child does not feel pressured by the parent’s control and realizes that there are conditions that require specific behaviors. This reduces conflicts and the child feels that he is in control of what concerns him, even if the parent needs to remind him of what they have agreed to do.

A daily routine helps the child to feel safe and confident, while reducing the stress of studying. The child knows what to expect and at the same time learns how obligations and free time alternate in life.

  1. The space

The child, especially when he first learns to do his homework, needs a designated place for studying. The space should have all the necessary materials and offer peace and quiet. This space should not have a TV or electronic devices. It is also good to have adequate lighting.

  1. Strategies

Teach the child strategies that will help him with his organization and studying. For example, writing down what to do and returning to the list when completing something, checking if he has prepared his/her school bag correctly, showing the child how to organize papers that he may or may not need to bring with him that day.

  1. Help

Explain to the child what hours we are available for the parent to help him and when helping him, do not solve the problem but help him find the solution. As he grows older, teach him problem-solving strategies, like how to break a complex process into smaller pieces and how to seek help in books or on the computer.

  1. Failure

A very important lesson in life is failure management. Effort is not always rewarded with success and this is something that the child should learn to manage from an early age. Failure is a lesson and a starting point for success, not a way to evaluate oneself or one’s abilities. What matters is the way we react to both the child’s failure and/or his or her success. It is good to praise this performance and to avoid saying things such as “did you do well? I’m very proud of you” or “how smart you are!” Phrases like: “You did very well on this test. What do you think helped you” allow the child to clarify that a test at school is just a test and to understand which factors or strategies were more effective.

It will not always be easy for the child to learn to study and be OK with their responsibilities. Every child has his or her own rhythms and abilities and it is important to respect them. What must be kept in mind is that reprimands and punishments usually do not help. It may be good to look for the reasons behind a child’s refusal to study and to rule out any learning difficulties or psychological problems and to help them overcome those issues.

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