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October 2, 2013

Teaching at Home

By Tampa Bay Parenting

Every day parents and students open class grades online, hoping to see satisfactory scores. Unfortunately, sometimes the grades staring back at them are below average or (to everyone’s horror) failing ones.

Parents and children want to see their child succeed in school (and children want to excel too). When a student at any grade level begins to perform lower in one or more academic areas, parents can struggle with how to help their child. And it’s important to help children who are experiencing academic difficulty. Scholastic challenges that are not addressed can lead to low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and family friction.

Parents and students must  remember that understanding effects one’s focus and focus effects a student’s understanding. Often, students struggle to keep up with class expectations because they misunderstand many of the key learning concepts. Also, students (of all ages) minds can wander during classroom instruction, which can lead to them falling behind further. Other students incorrectly learn fundamental concepts because of their lack of understanding.

If a student is falling behind in classes or not performing to their full academic potential, there are study methods to help alleviate this all too common scholastic problem. One solution is to learn the key vocabulary terms before the teacher introduces them.

Students can begin to learn the vocabulary terms prior to class instruction by reading over the bold print terms in the textbooks, online learning source, or objectives. Reading the class’s vocabulary terms aloud several times can greatly assist a student’s understanding, absorption and recollection of learning concepts. When the class is finished, students should review the main vocabulary terms three or four additional times.

When a student has some prior knowledge of the vocabulary terms in learning lectures, their focus can drastically improve. As students find improvement in their ability to understand the direct classroom teaching lessons, they focus on what the teacher is relaying for longer periods of time. Students typically find the subject they have been struggling in more interesting. As their interest increases, their understanding and focus can improve. As a result of consistently applying the vocabulary solution, students often see their test scores and daily class work grades improve at a steady pace.

Another common hurdle is reading below grade level, which often causes gaps in students’ scholastic skills. Students who are reading below their current grade level can improve their ability to decode and blend words by implementing educational strategies designed to improve reading. During after school study and homework time, students will benefit from spending some additional time dedicated to remediating their reading skills. Students of all grade levels can be taught the vowel phonetic rules and sounds, and can learn how to decode words at a higher level by learning the phonetic basis of the English language.

An example of this educational solution is having students make a flash card with a phonetic sound such as ight, which is read as ite. On the front of the card students or parents can write the phonetic spelling of ight and under it write the sound ite in a different color. The student can read the phonetic rule ight and the sound it makes to improve their reading skills. On the back of the flash card, the student can create a list of words that are spelled with ight to use as practice words. The student or parent should highlight the phonetic spelling of the word to make it stand out, and the student can practice reading their list of ight words.

Each week, students can learn and review 7-10 of these phonetic rules that in the past might have caused difficulty with reading. Students and parents should keep a list of the types of words they are demonstrating difficulty reading. Then students can focus on the word types that are most difficult to improve their personal reading struggles. Older teens may be surprised to find that they need to relearn some of the English phonetic rules they have forgotten.

The ability to comprehend and retain what one reads is one of the most important aspects of learning. Students may find themselves reading the same paragraph or page several times and not remembering most of what they just read. Reading a paragraph or page and retaining only a few details or no details can be frustrating to students. Therefore, students can improve their reading comprehension skills by applying the following educational solution. When the student is going to read an assigned reading in any of their classes, they may want to place a small notebook next to them. As they read half of a paragraph or an entire paragraph, they should write a few words about what they just read. By keeping a reading journal, the student can help improve their focus and retention. If the student is experiencing difficulty writing they can choose to draw a small picture or say their thought aloud into a tape recorder. Students of all ages and grade levels can improve their ability to retain and later access important information from their assigned reading. The notes students take while reading can also serve as quiz and test review material.

Students of all grade levels and ages who implement educational solutions to help them overcome areas of academic weakness can greatly improve their academic skills. Generally, children and teenagers will discover that over time they are able to spend less time learning new scholastic concepts as their vocabulary, reading, and reading comprehension skills improve. Students may find learning to be fun as they become capable to meet scholastic challenges and overcome their learning weaknesses. By igniting your student’s interest and understanding, they can experience a renewed sense of dignity and academic self-esteem.

Barbara Dianis, MA, is the founder and CEO of Dianis Educational Systems, LLC, and has counseled parents for 21 years, teaching them to assist their student in implementing effective learning techniques during homework and study time at home. 

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