Show interest in childen's learning

IAN MUNRO
Last updated 13:53 13/05/2014

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Term two is underway and the senior school will be getting well and truly stuck into the business of assessment.

You might be wondering how on earth you're going to get your youngster to get a better study focus. Particular grades might be needed to get into a tertiary course yet that doesn't seem to be enough of an incentive to knuckle down.

Perhaps you fear that winter sports commitments or the school musical production might be too great a distraction. Yet a good balance between extra-curricular activities and study can be achieved, and is often advantageous. A different activity, especially in the winter air and with others, can help clear the fug.

Last term you probably asked how the English assignment or biology assessment went and got the sort of noncommittal answer designed to give very little away and keep you at arm's length.

These sorts of questions place great emphasis on the grades as against the learning. While getting an achieved, merit or excellence can be a source of pride, you might get a better response if you ask questions that can lead to discussion about the important thing - the actual learning.

What have you found interesting in biology?

What's the novel you've been reading all about?

Was it a challenging assessment? What were the merit questions/ activities?

What was so important about Bismarck, Ratana?

Why is trade with China such a big deal?

Make learning important by creating a study space or quiet time in the household for homework. You might feel that, since you've been working hard all day, you have a right to relax in front of the television even if it intrudes on the youngsters' study, but don't forget that the kids have been working all day as well - and still have some more to do.

They have a job - learning. Rather than constantly checking on everything they're doing, which can become very annoying and be construed as nagging, give general encouragement. If your boss kept checking on you, you'd probably become irritated.

No doubt you would much more appreciate supportive comments and so will your teenager - "happy studying", "work well", "would you like a drink and something to eat?" "I was interested in what you said about Mandela last night and I found this on the internet."

Our youngsters can't all be geniuses, but, as Albert Einstein put it, "genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration". Getting the needed grades is good, but don't let a credit count or study wrangles define your relationship with your teen. Your positive comment, general interest in the learning and acknowledgement of the challenges are the best contributions you can make to that perspiration bit.

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© Ian Munro 2014. All rights reserved.

- The Timaru Herald

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