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How Parents Can Help Their Teens to Achieve at School: Part 2

Updated on February 24, 2013
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This article is the second part of a two part article on how to aid your teen with homework. For part one please click here.


Find Out What Your Child's Learning Style is.Not everybody studies well in a quiet room at a table. This is what we were taught at school, but the research into study styles has come a long way over the past few years. It has been discovered that the way we study is a very individual thing. Believe it or not, some teens do study better on their beds, or while jumping on a trampoline, or by watching educational videos.

Finding out your teen's learning style can be one of the most important things that you do for your teen. Is your child an auditory, visual, global, reflective, active or kinesthetic learner? Low academic performance can very easily stem from your child learning incorrectly.

I will be following up with a learning styles article shortly.

Encourage your teen to establish relationships with their teachers. As a teacher I can unreservedly state, that when your teen has a positive relationship with their teacher, it is easier to keep the lines of communication open, with them. This is really important because when teens feel comfortable with their teacher they won't be scared or resistant to asking them questions.

It is unrealistic to believe that your teen will like every teacher that teaches them, but regardless of how they feel about their teachers, encourage them to create a respectful relationship with all of them.

Make sure your teen is getting enough sleep. Teenagers' sleeping patterns change when they enter puberty. As a teacher I can personally attest to the fact that that a lack of sleep leaves teens with a decreased attention span, diminished creativity and a low frustration threshold.

In order for your child to succeed at school it is important that they get at least 8 - 9 hours of sleep, a night. Your child needs a lot of energy in order to be productive on a typical school day, this energy stems from a good diet and sound sleeping habits.

Control social media, computer, and TV time.I know that a lot of teens (and adults) like to kick back and get in some screen time as soon as they walk through the front door. While screen time does help you to relax because it allows you to space out for a while, I would not recommend it if your teen still has homework to do or tests to learn for. Once a teen gets 'lost' in cyber or TV world, it is very difficult to draw them back again.

Rather try to persuade your teen to play with the dog, listen to some music, or simply sit in the garden for a few moments, instead of watching television or plugging in to the Internet. A more constructive downtime will allow the teen to relax but still remain mentally alert, for the tasks that lie ahead. I really do suggest trying to get the homework etc. out of the way ASAP, so that your teen has the evening to relax, and allowing for the very important family time to take place.

Keep lines of communication open.When driving home from school, casually ask your teen about their day. Make sure that your tone and questions remain lighthearted rather than interrogative. Simple questions like, "What does your week look like?" "How are you relating to the new teacher?" and so on, are a good way to monitor your teen's schooling life. Checking in with your teen on a daily or weekly basis by asking about their assignments and what they are learning, is advisable. During these conversations do not lecture or tell them they are, 'Irresponsible' or "Not achieving to their full potential.". If you feel that way, it has to be brought up in a separate conversation, or your teen will clam up and you will not hear another thing about what is going on at school. Remember the key here is simple, straightforward questions.

As a parent keep a balanced focus.Please, please, pleasedo not be one of those parents that get caught up on focusing only on your teen's grades. While good grades are important for university admission and so on, they are not the be all and end all of your child's life. As I mentioned in the introduction, it is certainly not worth destroying your relationship with your teen over grades.

The educational process should translate into so much more than just grades. It is also the opportunity for your teen to learn social skills, personal responsibility, and respect for authority. Your teen will also learn time management, how to collect and retain information, and find out about their own areas of interest. It is also an important time for them to learn how to establish new relationships, outside of the family and friendship circles. The way they learn to respond to teachers, coaches etc will stand them in good stead for years to come.

Your job is to support your teen, by acknowledgingeverythingthat they are doing well, whether it is in the classroom, or the fact that they are empathetic or organised or responsible. In embracing the learning experience they will develop a love of learning, and find the strength of character to persevere beyond any failures they may encounter.

In conclusion:

You may or may not have realised your dreams in high school, but please remember that your teen is not you 20 or so years ago. I have encountered way too many parents who are trying to fulfill their dreams through their teens. Let your teen find their own way. If you never made it on Broadway do not force your teen into drama, or if you never made the final selection as a fullback, do not force your child to be one. Also understand that if you were a brilliant artist or dancer or cricket player, your child may not have inherited those genes. Let them discover what they enjoy and what they are good at and, let them excel in their own rights in a field of their choice.

It is not uncommon for parents to get frustrated and confused by their teen's behaviour at school and at home, but it is vital that you try to understand your teen's behaviour and not merely react to it. By understanding what is causing your teen to act up, you are able to put measures in place to help them through it.

It is so important to remember that not every student learns at the same pace or in the same style. Let your child take this time to explore and relish in their individuality, learn to discover what makes them tick, and figure out how to cope in this 'big, bad' world on their own. Make an effort to learn more about your child’s academic preferences so that you can help them develop the academic skills they need to be successful.

Some excellent books to help you with your child's homework.

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