Heading back to school can be a tough transition for many children—and parents too. They key to easing back into the academic mindset? According to Haden DeVilbiss, a humanities tutor at Studyville in Perkins Rowe, it’s all about practice, practice, practice.
We reached out to DeVilbiss for his top five tips for helping kids get their heads back in the game when the distractions of modern life take over. Read on for his insights.
1. Make your child want to succeed.
“Children tend to have a hard time internalizing their motivation to do well in school, and it’s a complaint you see everywhere,” DeVilbiss says, “especially in the more articulate high-schoolers of today.”
The easiest fix for lack of motivation? Positive reinforcement.
“It becomes part of the guardian’s job to incentivize success in the student, and the best (and cheapest) way to do this is to be proud of their achievements when they put in the work,” he says. “This kind of positive reinforcement is good for a child’s growth, especially if they’re feeling put upon by schoolwork or other less gregarious kids.”
DeVilbiss goes on to say, “This should especially be the case for students who have struggled acutely or chronically. Even though a D-to-C transition may not meet their parents’ standards, it is an improvement and should be cause for some pride all around.”
2. Practice a little every day.
This one seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but setting and practicing back-to-school routines can be more than just sleep training and laying out your clothes the night before. “The mind is a muscle, and it should be trained like one,” says DeVilbiss. “Routine bouts of exercise in the form of homework, practice quizzes and note memorization should be incorporated almost every day for a student.”
Still, DeVilbiss emphasizes that students need their time off, so it’s important to only push your child without needlessly straining them.
3. Start note-taking practice early.
Students can begin taking notes at almost any grade level. As DeVilbiss says, “Making this practice a habit earlier on in the child’s academic career will make things easier in the moment.”
He’s quick to add that everyone has different note-taking methods, so it’s important to help your child figure out what method is best for them. One of his most important rules of thumb for note-taking? “A student should be writing down everything the teacher spends a lot of time on, and anything that doesn’t come up more than once is probably safe to skip for the sake of your student’s aching hand.”
4. Make sure to look over your child’s shoulder.
While teachers and school support staff give their all to make sure children succeed academically, in reality, there’s no feasible way for teachers to dedicate extra time and attention to every one of their students. That’s where parental support comes in.
DeVilbiss points out that “routine grade check-ups, helping out with homework and simply discussing what the student is actually learning” can make all the difference in your child’s performance in the classroom.
5. Seek tutoring at the right time.
“It’s fairly obvious why coming to a tutor too late will be detrimental to a child’s academic performance,” says DeVilbiss. “Without enough time to work with the student, the tutor can do very little for them, as they need that period of steady, distributed training.” That being said, seeking a tutor too early can also lead to some negative outcomes. Seeking extra help too early will only emphasize a lack of enthusiasm and low work ethic, but if you are well in tune with your child’s academic progress, then you’ll know to call for a tutor when the time comes.
For more information on Studyville, visit its website here.