In American society today, and probably many other places, learning is as a goal to make and beat. With each passing day parents push their kids into making the highest grades, forcing teenagers into college, and coming up with new apps and technology that “helps” kids learn faster and more, or so they say.
This isn’t a good model to go by. Nudge, don’t force.
According to G. Olsen and M.L. Fuller, “Researchers have evidence for the positive effects of parent involvement on children, families, and school when schools and parents continuously support and encourage the children’s learning and development (Eccles & Harold, 1993; Illinois State Board of Education, 1993).”
And again, according to Henderson and Berla (1994), “the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status but the extent to which that student’s family is able to: 1. create a home environment that encourages learning, 2. express high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers, 3. Become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community.”
The benefits found from Henderson and Bura’s research:
Benefits for the Children
- Children tend to achieve more, regardless of ethnic or racial background, socioeconomic status, or parents’ education level.
- Children generally achieve better grades, test scores, and attendance.
- Children consistently complete their homework.
- Children have better self-esteem, are more self-disciplined, and show higher aspirations and motivation toward school.
- Children’s positive attitude about school often results in improved behavior in school and less suspension for disciplinary reasons.
- Fewer children are being placed in special education and remedial classes.
- Children from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to do better when parents and professionals work together to bridge the gap between the culture at home and the culture in school.
- Junior high and high school students whose parents remain involved usually make better transitions and are less likely to drop out of school.
Benefits for the Parents
- Parents increase their interaction and discussion with their children and are more responsive and sensitive to their children’s social, emotional, and intellectual developmental needs.
- Parents are more confident in their parenting and decision-making skills.
- As parents gain more knowledge of child development, there is more use of affection and positive reinforcement and less punishment on their children.
- Parents have a better understanding of the teacher’s job and school curriculum.
- When parents are aware of what their children are learning, they are more likely to help when they are requested by teachers to become more involved in their children’s learning activities at home.
- Parents’ perceptions of the school are improved and there are stronger ties and commitment to the school.
- Parents are more aware of, and become more active regarding, policies that affect their children’s education when parents are requested by school to be part of the decision-making team.
Benefits for the Educators
- When schools have a high percentage of involved parents in and out of schools, teachers and principals are more likely to experience higher morale.
- Teachers and principals often earn greater respect for their profession from the parents.
- Consistent parent involvement leads to improved communication and relations between parents, teachers, and administrators.
- Teachers and principals acquire a better understanding of families’ cultures and diversity, and they form deeper respect for parents’ abilities and time.
- Teachers and principals report an increase in job satisfaction.
Benefits for the School
- Schools that actively involve parents and the community tend to establish better reputations in the community.
- Schools also experience better community support.
- School programs that encourage and involve parents usually do better and have higher quality programs than programs that do not involve parents.
Think about it this way: A teacher who is brilliant and knows all the old school and new school ways of teaching is placed in a room of 35 children, any grade. Said teaching can only do so much. There is only one of her. The children, if not taught manners, responsibility, etc. at home, make it hard to learn anything the teacher has to teach.
Remedy this? ALL parents need to teach their children how to be respectful, manners to be used everywhere, help with homework to enforce the learning process, and help be responsible for their child’s learning outcomes.
Well, one good way is to know your child’s learning style. This can be started as early as toddler-hood.
Knowing this helps you, the parent, understand how to best help your child. It also means you can let the teacher in on this particularly useful piece of knowledge to help them help your child. That same teacher doesn’t have time to figure out each child’s learning style. It will make things easier if you know and pass it along.
So what is a learning style, you ask?
This is a way one learns. It speaks to the idea that every individual learns a little differently than the next. This is the way you best absorb, process, comprehend, and retain information.
What are the styles? There are four: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, and Kinesthetic. These three are based on the VARK module, which acknowledges that students have different approaches to how they process information, referred to as “preferred learning models.” It was created by Neil Fleming.
Once you take the test, you will get advice how to use your skills to your best advantage or your child’s best advantage. Fleming calls this SWOT (Study Without Tears).
Visual SWOT Strategies
- Utilize graphic organizers such as charts, graphs and diagrams.
- Redraw your pages from memory.
- Replace important words with symbols or initials.
- Highlight important key terms in corresponding colors.
Aural SWOT Strategies
- Record your summarized notes and listen to them on tape.
- Talk it out. Have a discussion with others to expand upon your understanding of a topic.
- Reread your notes and/or assignment out loud.
- Explain your notes to your peers/fellow “aural” learners.
Read/Write SWOT Strategies
- Write, write and rewrite your words and notes.
- Reword main ideas and principles to gain a deeper understanding.
- Organize diagrams, charts, and graphic organizers into statements.
Kinesthetic SWOT Strategies
- Use real life examples, applications and case studies in your summary to help with abstract concepts.
- Redo lab experiments or projects.
- Utilize pictures and photographs that illustrate your idea.
For example, after taking the quiz, I have a few ways I best learn depending on the situation. This is Multi-modal: Visual, read/write, and kinesthetic. The VARK website gives me links that give me an INTAKE section on how I best take in information, the SWOT section, and then an OUTPUT section on how I best perform on tests, assignments, and examinations.
Now, Diva hasn’t quite gotten here yet, but, based on my observations of her, I know several things about her, and about toddlers in general, that will help me in helping her to learn using VARKS advice.
Diva LOVES music. So, I dug out an old iPod, put music that she is allowed to listen to on it and cleaned everything else off. She has her own kid-friendly earphones, but the iPod also has its own speaker. I don’t just give it to her and let her have at it though. She might or might not learn anything.
Instead, using the VARK method advice for different kinds of learners, I repeat the words “music on”, “music off” as I turn the music on and off using her finger to press the play/pause button. Auditory and kinesthetic. We listen to the music while banging on her drum. We sing with the music. We dance to the music. And I repeat specific words while we touch: headphones, iPod, cord.
I do the same with diapers, cups, and anything else. We say the word, we make noise with it or I make a noise (stuffed animal cat means I meow), and we touch/play with it. We re-arrange things and say their names and colors while touching in different orders. We, attempts, to draw things we see and can name. And I constantly ask her questions from things we did/learned the day before and that day.
This seems to really help. Of all the children in her age group that we know and are around, she’s the only one who talks all the time already, knows sounds, colors, and names for things and can actually go get what you name to her. She’s already potty training.
Not to say that the other kids aren’t doing some of this. But, they aren’t doing it around anyone but their parents. Unfortunately, their parents say they don’t really do any of that at home. They are all amazed by Diva’s young knowledge.
Part of it is her (I have a smart kid), and part of it is my involvement in her education. I don’t force her. But, I do give constantly talk to her and use the four methods of learning styles to make sure I’m getting something that she retains, which she obviously does!
Try this out and let me know how it works for you!