Here are some pointers to help "nudge" your student from good to exceptional!
Set clear expectations – but stay inspiring and supportive. Sometimes we’re so busy praising our children for what they’ve already achieved (and rightly so!) that they don’t realize that they could improve even more. For instance, students who are consistently rewarded for “B’s” won’t necessarily push themselves to work a little harder to get “A’s” unless they know that’s what you expect from them.
To help make the “push,” let your child know that you believe in their abilities – but make it about their potential, not their grades. If your child starts thinking that you’re pushing them towards an “A” for the sake of an “A,” they’ll become discouraged and even resentful.
Recognize personal preferences. Small changes in study habits designed to accommodate individual inclinations can make a big difference in results. For example, if you’ve always insisted that homework must be completed right after school, try allowing your daughter to watch her favorite TV program first. You might find that she no longer rushes through the work so that she can get to the activity she really wants to do and instead is more focused once she finally sits down with her books.
Variety is key – there’s more to life than school. Kids need more in their lives than just school and homework. Pursuing their passions outside the classroom provides a much-needed release and allows them to learn better. Some extracurricular activities, such as music and sports, have a proven benefit to education. But even if your son favors something like video games where the educational advantage isn’t as clear, it is still a good thing to let him do the things he loves in his free time.
Encourage risk-taking. Good students know that it’s important to do what teachers expect. But truly exceptional students show real intellectual curiosity. Their essays sparkle with personality rather than parroting back the text. Their approach to problem-solving involves new perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking. They are willing to ask all kinds of questions in class discussions, even if this might make them appear foolish among their peers. All of this requires some degree of risk-taking, so let your child know you support these efforts and that you have his or her back if an attempt to go above and beyond the ordinary occasionally goes awry. And as always, some of the best lessons are learned from our good-faith mistakes.
Mark B. Kance, M.A.T. is the Executive Director at the Hamilton Township Sylvan Learning in Hamilton New Jersey. Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels with more than 30 years of experience and nearly 800 centers located throughout North America. Sylvan's trained and Sylvan-certified instructors provide personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. Sylvan also hosts MomMinded.com, a blog offering tips and resources from moms and education experts. For more information, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit www.SylvanLearning.com.