In an ideal world, all of our children would love to go to school, love to learn, love to work on their reading comprehension and writing skills, and be effortlessly talented with numbers. As a parent, it’s natural to wonder how to get your child interested in school.
In reality, kids sometimes dislike studying.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Wouldn’t you also prefer to play instead of go to work?
When our children fail to meet our own expectations of how they should be doing in school though, arguments and all kinds of unpleasant situations tend to arise.
Let us today look at several ways to help your child handle some of their core subjects better – writing, reading and math – as well as how to handle their least favorite subject.
Hopefully it will help them excel, and you not to stress as much.
How to Help Your Child With Math
Math is often disliked by kids – they find it irrelevant, complicated and complex, and can’t always see the point, especially if it has always just been presented as an important subject they need to be good at, but no one has ever told them why.
Here is how you can make it a bit more palatable:
Relate Math to Real Life
A great place to start is to explain to your children why math is important. Don’t just use expressions like “you need it to get into a good college”, “it’s an important subject”, or “you’ll understand when you grow up”. Be real about it.
Explain when and how math is used in real life: when handling money, when shopping, baking, cooking, driving, and so on.
You can also tell them that math improves general cognitive abilities, and that getting better at math will help them become better at other things too; it will help them expand their understanding of the world.
Be Honest About It
Another great strategy is to quite honestly admit to your child that math is not always fun.
While they are young, it’s easy to play math games and turn it into playtime, but as they get older, math can sometimes be a harder sell.
Instead, if you openly admit that math can be difficult and – yes – sometimes boring – instead of approaching it with a false “it’s so much fun, you’ll enjoy it” ploy, your kids will appreciate the honesty.
In fact, you will also be teaching a valuable life lesson – we can’t always have fun, and sometimes we need to do things we don’t really like.
Enlist the Help You Need
Finally, the best way you can help your child tackle math is to get them the help they need.
- Talk to their math teacher about their strengths and weaknesses, and focus on the procedures they find more challenging.
- Ask a family member who is good at math to help out.
- Use age-appropriate math workbooks that can provide a variety of problems, in order to keep approaching the same problems from different angles.
- Use math daily – in the store, in the kitchen, or just talk about it at the dinner table.
My Child Hates Writing – What next?
Just like math, writing can sometimes can be quite the challenge, especially for children who don’t have a natural knack for it.
So the question becomes, how to motivate a child to write?
For some children, writing is a creative outlet and a chance to shine. But some kids find it hard to express their thoughts on paper, for whatever reason.
Here is what you can do about it:
In order to become a better writer, you should first be a very thirsty reader.
While we’ll also talk about how to teach your children to become more keen readers in a bit, remember for now that the two practices are inextricably linked. Even though when kids learn to read varies widely, a love for reading and writing can be instilled in all kids, regardless of age or ability.
Write Every Day, and Not Just for School
The best way to improve anyone’s writing skills, be they adult or child, is to write often, and not worry too much about the quality of every single piece of writing.
You can establish several fun family activities that can serve as prompts:
- Encourage journaling – every member of the family can keep one, and you can share excerpts over dinner or breakfast.
- Write alternate endings to your child’s favorite stories – this will also help them develop their imagination. You can also tackle cartoons or movies as they get a bit older.
- Write stories for each other – my older daughter and I used to write bedtime stories to my younger daughter, which my husband would then perform as we tucked her in.
- Use different styles – as your children get older, you can tackle mystery, biography, even horror or thriller – they don’t have to work with a rigid academic style all the time.
- While it’s not strictly considered writing, don’t forget to teach your child how to type too. It is certainly a skill they will need to rely on a lot, and it can help them gain added confidence.
Finally, you want to discuss writing with your child. Be it good or bad, you need to encourage their progress, and guide them in the right direction if you see mistakes.
Be very kind when you do this, especially if your child is actually very interested in writing. The creative spirit is a fragile thing, and you don’t want to inadvertently put a damper on the enthusiasm your child is expressing by being overly critical.
Always point out what you liked and what they did well, and only then discuss any errors they may have made. It’s a good habit to see if your child can spot their own errors before you jump in and do it for them.
How to Encourage Reading
Reading is the home of creativity and knowledge – and reading well is one of the best habits you can develop throughout your life. Reading can be an immense source of information and knowledge, but it can also be a way to wind down and relax, for both kids and adults alike.
Not to mention, having firm reading skills can help you become a better learner and a better overall student.
Here’s how to encourage reading in a child:
Read to Your Child from a Young Age
The sooner you start introducing kids to books and words and imaginary lands, the better.
Ideally, you will be reading to them while they are still in your belly – but putting them to sleep with bedtime stories while they are just babies is also a good time to start.
There are so many excellent books for young children (The 50 Best Books for Toddlers is a great place to start). And as kids grow, the options grow along with them.
As they get older, continue with the habit of reading to your child- and slowly have them join you in the endeavor. You’ll notice they won’t be as hesitant as you thought, and they’ll love to learn how to be able to dive into those stories and books themselves.
Let Them Choose
Once your child enters the phase of their life where they have to read something (also known as school), make sure you keep your reading rituals liberal. Don’t just grab a school book unless they themselves want to read it with you.
Let them choose the books they read (with some age restrictions, of course). This is how they will discover what they like and what they dislike. Try out different genres, and enlist your local librarian’s help in discovering new books.
But don’t try to force any author or story on them – it’s their reading time, they get to pick the adventure.
Try Alternatives to Books
If your child is not the biggest fan of books, you can try some alternatives.
Audiobooks are a fantastic tool to supplement traditional books. If your child loves a good story but is still working on reading fluency, adding some audiobooks into the mix is a great idea.
While this will not boost their reading skills, it will help them remain in love with stories, and they won’t be discouraged by their slowness. As their skills improve, they will be able to enjoy the books they are drawn to.
Comic books are also a great alternative – there are tons of different comics for every age, so you shouldn’t have a problem discovering a set of characters they can identify with.
What to do with Their Least Favorite Subject
Finally, let’s tackle studying for the subjects your child loves least.
Teach Them About Working Harder
This is a perfect time to discuss hard work in the face of a challenge – also known as “grit”. Grit is a key indicator of future success, and the more you can help foster it, the better.
You can better explain the way life works when they are faced with something they don’t like, then when you talk about working hard on something they already enjoy.
Teach them about the importance of doing their best even if they are not interested – which is a skill they can apply all throughout their life.
Teach Them About Failure
Chances are they might not be getting the absolute best grades in their least favorite subject (unless you have taught them the previous lesson really well and they have applied themselves immensely).
Which gives you the opportunity to talk about failure, and what your child can learn from it. As failure is definitely a part of everyday life, and as they will come face to face with it sooner or later, providing them with the tools to cope at an early age is invaluable.
What you can (and should) also do regarding your child’s performance in a subject they don’t like is accept it – even if the grades they are coming home with are not what you were hoping to see.
Accepting your child’s decision not to aim for the highest mark might come with some difficulty, but at the end of the day, kids need to learn that they are the ones ultimately in charge of their work.
Explain the consequences of the grade they are averaging, and then let the matter drop.
Hopefully these tips on how to get your child interested in school will help you work on your child’s study skills with a bit more ease. Do let me know how you learn together as a family!
This is a guest post by Julia Robson, a mom of two girls and aspiring blogger. You can read more of her work on Medium.
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