The following ideas offer many ways you can help your children develop skills based on their learning style.
Read to young children daily. This helps them develop listening and observation skills and stimulates imagination. Let your child read to you and point out the pictures. Preschoolers enjoy pretending to read the story.
Teach young children how to follow directions; it is one of the most important skills they need in school. When showing children how to perform a new task or skill, model each part of the job. Then let them participate with you until they can do the task alone. Give instructions one at a time, followed by doing that part of the task. Too many directions at the same time confuse children.
When you take preschool children to the bank, bakery, cleaners or post office, tell them about the kinds of work people do and why their services are needed.
Listen to sounds with your child, and talk about what you hear: workers repairing the street, a train whistle, dogs barking, cash register ringing or birds chirping. For fun, try to mimic the sounds together.
Young children need to build with blocks, play with clay, put together puzzles and do simple exercises, such as bending, crawling, hopping, stretching or walking. This helps them develop their large and small motor skills and prepares them to learn tasks that require physical dexterity at school.
Before reading a new book to young children, tell them the title and ask what they think the story might be about. When you have almost finished reading the book, ask your children to make up an ending to the story.
Link reading books with television programs. If your child watches a show about birds, check out a book at the library on the same subject, and read it together.
Show interest in your child’s school work and display it on a bulletin board. Look at their textbooks and ask them what they enjoy learning about the most. Ask them what subject are difficult for them and where they need help.
Set up a good study environment. Some children like to be alone and quiet, while others prefer to be near people. Keep a basket of school supplies for homework projects in the study area.
Encourage children to read for pleasure and always have a book in process. Praise them regularly and who interest in what they’re reading by asking questions about the story and the characters.
Create homework incentive programs. Children earn points toward an award by doing homework one the day that it is assigned, completing it on time and having a good attitude.
Study along with your kids. Try taking an algebra refresher course or the like to get reacquainted with what your children are learning.
Stress the importance of neatness. Teachers are influenced by the way work looks. If your children’s handwriting is poor, encourage them to do the best they can. When possible, let your children do their work on a computer or a typewriter. Two of the most important classes your child may take will be typing and word processing.
Keep a good dictionary and synonym finder handy. When your children read a word they don’t know or hear an unfamiliar word on tv, teach them to look it up.
Build your vocabulary as a family; learn a new word every morning at the breakfast table. You can buy daily calendars with unusual or unfamiliar words; they also give the definition, a pronunciation guide and a sentence to show how the word is used. They have versions of these word calendars for older and younger children.
Help your child learn to study effectively for tests. Review notes soon after class. Color code essential information with a highlighter. Ask the teacher what a test will cover. Save old tests to use as study guides. Study according to their biological clock: is the best time to study morning, noon, or night? Commit information to memory only when they’re rested. Learn how to use memory strategies, such as acronyms, key words, linking ideas and rhyming. Proofread papers before handing them in, and use a spelling dictionary as a quick way to check words for errors.
Discuss how to do special projects or papers with your children before they start them. Help your children think through the following questions: what does the teacher want? What items do you need to complete the project? What is available? What other resources do you need to check into?
A cassette tape player is a great learning tool for children who are auditory learners or who have difficulty reading. Have your child record his or her report before writing it. Then listen to the tape and take down the report on paper. Record reading assignments for your children, such as a story or a chapter from a textbook. They can listen to the recording and follow along in the book. This way your children can check what they’re hearing against what’s being read. They can listen to the recording several times to reinforce learning and improve reading skills. Ask the teacher for permission to use a tape recorder in class. Many children find it helpful to hear the lecture and assignment more than once. Encourage children who don’t enjoy reading or don’t read well to listen to stories on tape. Many local libraries offer tapes of classical literature as well as fun stories for young children.
Help your child learn handy skills. Repair a bike, take apart a small appliance, or build a simple piece of furniture together.
Enroll your children in enrichment classes such as art, dance, drama, or science. These courses are often available for free or for a nominal fee through city parks and recreation departments, junior colleges, YMCAs and The Salvation Army.
Take your child to programs that complement a subject he or she is studying in school. For example, a civic theater may present a play or musical your child is learning about in class.
Engage in stimulating discussions at the dinner table. Let your children know that no piece of information is too small or unimportant to be discussed at the table.