Creating Success

The Five Secrets - What you can do to help your child?

Things you can do to help your family learn more effectively are common sense. But they are rarely talked about, so we call them the five secrets.

1. Be positive and supportive

Your child will learn best when he feels able to take risks. Your expectations may make them anxious, so remember that being preoccupied with being the best and getting results may come at the expense of real learning.

Tips for creating a positive learning environment:
  • Avoid comparisons with other children.
  • Avoid threats.
  • Break learning up into small manageable chunks. Recognise each one as an achievement.

2. Encourage planning and goal-setting

Start with the big picture. Before diving into any activity – a maths problem or finding out about something in history, for example – take time to get the overview. Picture what success will be like before starting a task. How will children know they have achieved it? Take time to talk about this with your child.

Tips for looking ahead and setting goals:
  • Encourage your child to close his eyes and picture the task in their head. You may also want to suggest they think of people they know who can be whatever it is they are planning.
  • Ask questions that encourage looking ahead, such as: ‘How long do you think this will take you?’ and ‘How will you know if you have learned these spellings?’
  • Make a simple chart with your child that shows when they will do their homework and put it on their bedroom wall.

When your child has finished planning, help them to set targets and think about what success will feel like. Your child might set themselves goals for homework such as: ‘I’ll take 15 minutes to read the passage, then answer the first five questions, then take a break. I’ll try and write at least three sentences for each answer. I’ll finish this by 7.00pm and then do another 40 minutes tomorrow.

3. Make connections with what your child already knows

We all find it easier to learn something new when we can connect it to something we already know. We need maps, lists and guides to help make connections between things and then to see if there are any patterns to help us organise our thinking.

Tips for helping your child to make connections:
  • Encourage connections between words by asking your child questions.
  • Encourage your child to explain connections, both to themselves as they work and to others.

4. Help your child learn by seeing, hearing and doing

We continually get information through our senses. We store it, make connections and categorise it, and respond to it. Help your child learn through the senses and you will dramatically improve their changes of success.

Highly visual people remember what they see. They rehearse what thinks will look like in their head. They may spell by remembering the look of a word.

People who depend on their ears rehearse what has been said to them over and over again. They may spell using patterns of sound, and often talk themselves through a process or a problem. The enjoy discussion.

People who use physical movement like to get up and get on with things. When they spell, the may use a finger to write in the air. They may need to write out a calculation to get the ‘feel’ of it. They learn best by experiencing things for themselves.

Tips for learning by seeing, hearing and doing:

  • Encourage your child to put up posters around his room summarising what they need to know. Give them bright coloured pens and large sheets of paper.
  • Encourage them to listen to different types of music, and give them the option to have background music while they work.
  • Give them lots of opportunities to dance and sing at an early age.

5. Use reviewing to help your child remember things

Regularly review helps us to remember things. Encourage your child to pause frequently in what they are doing and take time to explain to themselves what they have just learned. Time spent reviewing is time well spent.

Tips to help your child review what they have learned:
  • Encourage your child to test themselves regularly. Little and often is the key.
  • Help them to practise talking themselves through an activity aloud, looking at each step and saying what is involved. They will be using the language they need, so they are more likely to remember it.
  • Draw a poster or a mind map to help them remember something.