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Helping your Child with their Learning

Ten Simple Tips for Parents and Family

By Anne Keeling - Press relations for International Primary & Middle Years Curriculum, Cardiff, Wales 

Learning does not just happen in school.  The role that family members can play at home is so important. Talking with a child about their learning and helping them to see that learning happens all the time and all around them in everyday life can have a huge impact.

So what can you do to support your child with their learning? And what can you say to your child that will encourage their learning and keep the learning communication going at home?

Here are ten tips from the experts at the International Primary Curriculum who work with teachers and children throughout the world to support them with their learning. These simple suggestions can help to make a big difference:

1. Say to your child the word ‘yet’ as often as you can.

For example, when your child says ‘I can’t do fractions’ you say ‘you can’t do fractions yet’. Help them to see the possibility that they will be able to achieve it in the future.

2. Say to your child: ‘you’re getting better’ whenever the opportunity allows.

Learning is all about improvement and learning a skill needs patience and practice and practice and practice to improve. Your child needs lots of support along the way.

3. Say to your child: ‘what have you learned today?’

This question is a lot more specific than ‘what did you do today?’

Encourage your child to realise that learning happens all the time; in and out of the classroom. 

4. Say encouraging things as often as you can when your child is beginning to learn something new and encourage them when something still isn’t perfect.

Remember how much encouragement you gave your child when they took their first wobbly steps? Children need that same encouragement whenever they start learning something new. Learning is always harder at the beginning.

5. Say things to your child to show you can see that there’s improvement however small.

Compare ‘then’ and ‘now’ and praise the difference.
Learning is about getting better; lots of ‘getting better’ steps.

6. Say to your child: ‘of course you’ve made a mistake, but keep going, you’re learning.’

Every child needs to know that making mistakes is all part of the learning process Mistakes can be good because you can learn from them. You never really learn something well if you don’t make mistakes along the way. Make sure your child knows that mistakes are OK.

7. Say to your child: ‘your brain is wired in lots of different ways, some ways are better than others. Let’s try to make each part work as well as it can.’

Few of us will be brilliant at everything but we can get better at everything.

hildren love showing parents their learning. Use this chance to show your child you can see their learning is getting better, that it's ok to make mistakes and to learn from them.

8. Say to your child: ‘take a break, do some exercise, then start learning again.’

The brain needs blood, oxygen and rest to keep going. If it doesn’t get them then it doesn’t keep going.

9. Say to your child: ‘if you find facts difficult to remember then it’s ok to use a ‘hook’ to help you remember.’

There are just too many facts to remember so your child should only worry about remembering the ones that really matter For these, it’s perfectly fine to give their brain some help if they need to: making connections and  linking to other related knowledge that your child already knows helps a lot. Reading or talking about the knowledge in different ways is hugely beneficial too. Little rhymes to remember a list of facts can be helpful and fun.

10. Say to your child: ‘I found x easy to learn, but I had to work harder at y.’

Make sure your child knows you went through similar learning struggles as they are going through. Show your child realistic models of learning; don’t fake your own excellence On the other hand don’t promote inabilities either – unless you are promoting how much better you could have been if only you’d kept trying.

This learning advice is brought to you from the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) which is used in schools in over 85 countries around the world including Bangkok Patana School and St John's International School in Bangkok. The IPC is a challenging yet creative and exciting way for children to learn their subjects as well as personal skills, and also to learn about the way other people live all over the world.