A parent-teacher meeting is a teacher’s worst nightmare. Why? The dreaded question: ‘How can my child do better at school?’
This question is perplexing for many reasons; the most notable being that there is no quick-fire solution. However, there are a few things parents can do to help their child reach their academic potential.
Motivating them to want to learn is the real trick. A child who wants to learn is a dream to teach: They are attentive in class, ask meaningful questions, complete homework on time and to a high standard and, most importantly, they review their notes outside of class, leading to a deeper understanding and higher retention of knowledge.
So the real question parents should focus on is ‘how can I motivate my child to want to learn?’ Here are some quick tips to help you get started:
1. Increase subject-passion through extracurricular activities
Find an activity or hobby that will spark interest in school subjects outside the classroom. This will be most effective if your child can see the link between the extra-curricular activity and their school subject. If they’re struggling with science, think about taking them to a discovery center or science museum. If English is their weakness, take them to a literature class or a theater show.
2. The freedom to choose
We all love choice. Choice empowers us; it increases our sense of control and encourages us to take responsibility for our actions. Let your child choose the subjects they wish to study and which extracurricular activities they wish to take part in. Choice gives us a sense of responsibility and control, and acts as a motivator. Removing choice takes away that sense of control and will ultimately de-motivate your child.
3. Choose your own destiny
Even as an adult, visualizing what we want in 20 years’ time can be difficult. Instead, ask your children to think about the next step: What do they want to study at high school? What program might they want to study at university? What job could they imagine themselves doing in the future? The key is to help them understand that what they’re achieving in the classroom today will directly affect their opportunities in the future. Then, help them create attainable goals in relation to these future aspirations; start with goals for the next month and move on to goals for the next year.
Hannah Beasley is a psychology teacher at Guanghua Cambridge International School teaching A-level psychology.