Off to A Good Start September 25, 2013 06:29

There is one thing that both teachers and parents can do to help their children get off a great start.

Parents: Allow your children to struggle and work things out.  They have the power if encouraged.  Send them back to their teachers if they do not understand a concept or how to do an assignment.  If you don't want to have to help with homework all year. the teacher needs to know if they homework is at an independent level.  

Claim ignorance.  If your child is struggling and you are having a power struggle with them.  State, "I am sorry, I don't know how to do this.  You will have to ask your teacher how to do this problem."  Then send them into the classroom with questions for the teacher.  

Giving the teacher a clear picture of your child's learning style is more beneficial than having them turn in homework that took you and hour to teach.  If you don't want to continue doing it, don't even begin.  Contact me for strategies to stop your specific challenge.  

Teachers: Insist that your students share what they don't know and do less direct teaching.  They will not listen if we go on and on.  

Give them the homework assignments before they start instruction, and then ask what questions they have.

Guide them to the answer through thoughtful questioning.  The brain wants to find answers.  Thoughtful questions make students think.  

Avoid letting the first student with their hand up to answer the question.  Have scrap paper for your students to record ideas and give think time. This will engage the passive student, who was content to wait for someone else to answer the question and never discovered they have the same ability.  

Be prepared that this method is slow in the beginning, but will soon have every student actively engaged.    Steer clear of giving direction answers. 

Parents and Teachers:  When students struggle, it is due to the fact that they do not have strategies for tackling challenges.  Instead of providing answers to questions, guide them with questions that will teach them how to tackle the same challenge the next time.

Example:  My students were asked to find the antonyms for their spelling words.  Many students did not bother to read the directions and had no clue that this question was even a part of their homework.

The class has grown accustomed to getting help at home, so they had no need to listen when instruction was given.  

Instead of defining the word "antonym," I asked the following questions:

1.  If you could not get help at home, go on the internet, ask a friend, or ask me, how could you figure out what antonym meant?

2.  After three minutes of think time, I asked for suggestions.  The first was to look in the dictionary.

3.  I asked for more ideas.  The next student raised his hand and asked, "Ms.O. is an antonym the opposite word?  

4.  I never answer anything without a question. So, I asked, "What made you draw that conclusion?"

5. He stated, "I looked at the problem words, and I looked at the words in my spelling list, and they looked like the opposite."

6.  I asked the class if they thought the student was correct.  They gave me a thumbs up that they agreed.

This approach forces the student to learn strategies that they didn't even know they had. 

I rarely have this same question again.  Why?  Because, if I gave the definition, guess what I would have to give every time it came up?  The definition.  When they use deductive reasoning, they will remember. It forms a different connection in the brain.  If you do it, you will remember it.  If someone tells you, you will have to be shown or taught again.  If they forget next time, they have a strategy to rely upon.  

I am here to support you.  If you have specific questions, email me at tolivadoti@aol.com