3 tips to improve learning at home

Julian Condo
May 17, 2023
2 min

When done right, homework can be a powerful learning tool. Homework helps students practice skills and develop independence. However, at some point, all students run into challenges with homework. Parents play an important role in creating a successful homework experience, and these tips can help you set the stage for long-term success.

⏳ Check your own attitude

Are you anxious, impatient, or frustrated when helping your child? If so, you’re blocking progress. Learning is hard work, but it does not need to be stressful. You can set a positive tone. Ask yourself: what’s interesting about this problem or assignment? Be a model for curiosity and enjoyment along with focus and hard work.

  1. Carve out a dedicated time and place for homework help. Don’t squeeze homework help between other high-stress appointments. Try to be fully present when helping out.
  2. Be interested and curious about learning and the process of learning. Remember, your child is mirroring your behavior and attitude.
  3. Don’t let yourself be stressed or anxious. Take a break if you need to reset. You can’t expect kids to enjoy learning if you’re not enjoying it yourself.

🎯 Celebrate with specific praise

Think about the last time you received positive feedback. Was it a generic “great job,” or was it specific and personalized? Specific praise feels better and means much more. You can give the same gift to your child. Celebrate wholeheartedly when your child makes progress, but be as specific as possible when you do. Describe the specific strategy and praise the effort your child used to solve a problem. Doing so encourages independence, resilience, and strategic thinking, traits that foster a long-term love of learning.***

Example script: “I love how you found a common denominator to figure out which fraction was larger. This way is more exact. Before, you were only thinking about numerators. I really like the way you kept working at this.”

  1. Pay attention to what strategies your child is using to accomplish an academic task.
  2. Ask them to ‘show off’ how they did what they did.
  3. Celebrate the strategy. Point out what’s working and what’s not working. Be specific.

🤔 What to do when your child says “My teacher doesn’t teach it that way!”

Have you or your team ever had to adopt a new software or process at work? Was that frustrating? If so, you know what it feels like for your child to learn ‘your way’ to solve a math problem or write a paragraph. Kids have limited patience for unfamiliar methods. Let’s not force a new process without considering the switching costs. ‘Your way’ might be better. Still, show your child how your suggestion connects to the methods taught in school. This will increase the likelihood that your child adopts the suggestion.

  1. Ask your child to teach you how they complete a process. Ask what the teacher showed them in class.
  2. Look at slides or class notes to understand how the concepts are being taught. Google classroom, Canvas, Schoology, or other teacher resources can help. Email your child’s teacher if you can’t find resources.
  3. If you have a suggestion, connect ‘your way’ to the method being taught in class.

Homework time should be interesting and energizing for your child. Yes, learning is hard work, but these tips can greatly improve your child’s learning experience at home.

***Read more here from Carol Dweck on how to encourage a growth mindset the right way.