10 easy ways to support your son’s learning
Sometimes you might wonder, ‘Why is my son not reading at the same level as his friend? Why doesn’t he understand the maths homework?’
Learning for many of us comes naturally, but for some, it is not so easy and especially for boys this can sometimes be the case.
Even though learning is incremental and we all have our strengths and weaknesses, it is important as educators and parents that we support our boys as much as we can.
1. Remind him of his special qualities
Confidence is a major factor when it comes to boys and their learning. Boys can be very aware that they might struggle in an area of their schooling, but not necessarily express this. It is important that we frequently talk to our sons and discuss how they are feeling. Remind them of the special qualities that they personally have. We need to boost our boys’ self-esteem, motivate them and praise them for all the wonderful achievements that they are making.
2. Do your best, rather than be the best
It’s essential to give boys realistic goals and ask them to do their best, not to be the best. For boys to do their best with their learning, they must feel good about themselves. It’s important that we have high, but achievable expectations. Not too much pressure, but enough pressure to keep them motivated.
3. Boys learn best by doing
Not everyone learns the same way. Research indicates that boys learn best by doing. Using concrete materials, visual aids and relating the concept to an interest of theirs are ways that learning experiences can be modified to assist boys with their learning.
4. Boys need short instructions
Presenting boys with lots of information all at once can be overwhelming. Boys need short and concise instructions, and work best when there is routine and structure.
5. A bit of rote learning can be useful
Many boys are good at rote learning. You might find that they are great at their times tables or can add multiple numbers in their head with ease. Don’t get me wrong, this is great, however there is little point in knowing this information if boys don’t understand the underlying concepts or have the ability to apply this knowledge to their lives.
6. Make it real and relevant
Day to day life offers great opportunities to assist your son with his learning. When you are cooking or shopping, it can be a great chance to discuss measurement or money. Have your son help you weigh the flour or calculate the total of your shopping bill – or even check the change.
7. Share a book together
Sharing a book together can be one of the best ways to spend some time assisting with your son’s learning. Have your son read a page, you read a page and then read a page together. Asking questions and discussing the text before, during and post reading is a great way to understand whether your son is drawing meaning from the text.
8. Use the little moments
We all lead busy lives, so it’s important to seize those opportunities that we have to assist our sons with their development. Listening to your son read while cooking, reciting times tables at the traffic lights in the car, or practising spelling whilst picking up a sibling from sport practise are just a few ways that you can support your son. It’s these little moments that can help your son with his learning and boost his confidence.
9. Talk to your son
Boys’ speech often develops at a slower rate than girls. It is important that you take the opportunity to talk to your son and have general conversations with him. Ask open-ended questions, model language and ask him to repeat. Doing this from a very young age can make a big difference to his verbal skills. This also assists boys in expanding their vocabulary and general knowledge. It improves their conversations skills, and encourages them to make predictions and links to their prior knowledge.
10. Prepare him for the day ahead
Setting boys up for a great day at school is vital. Making sure that they are well rested, have had a healthy breakfast, are organised for the day and are at school on time, is the best foundation you can provide for your son as he begins his day.
David Eggleston is a Learning Support Specialist who has worked with boys for many years. This article is about Education
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