For most, the school year has ended and teachers have sent home a reading calendar along with a packet of summer learning activities for children to complete with their parents’ support. Sometimes these learning activities get piled in the corner, only to be discovered the week before school starts in the fall. If that sounds familiar, no judgment here. I understand summer is a time for relaxation and fun, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of some intermittent skill-building over the summer, especially this year! This was the most disjointed school year most students have experienced and many students received less direct instruction than ever before. Of all summers, this is the one to make time to practice skills from the previous year to ensure they’re ready for the next grade. In addition, it’s imperative for students to read. If they do nothing else, just read (at least 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week). Reading is the key to success in life. It’s how we acquire new vocabulary, the most critical communication skill for expressing ourselves and understanding others. You have nothing to build on if you can’t communicate effectively, so read, read, read (it’s also good SAT prep)! ~Click here for strategies on how to effectively read with your child. ~
Now when tackling the summer learning packet, some children will whip through these activities with ease and others will find them a bit more challenging. But, when your child needs support, are you really prepared to intervene effectively? I clearly remember when my oldest struggled to learn foundational skills in elementary school, all of my patience as a Special Education teacher and all the best teaching practices went out the window as tension and frustrations rose. We’d argue, I’d yell (not my proudest moments) but I was so hyper-focused on what Jada was or wasn’t doing, I had no awareness of what I was or wasn’t doing. At that time, I didn’t fully understand what I had control over and what I didn’t have control over in the home learning environment, and my fear for her future took over (it may sound crazy now that she just graduated summa cum laude, but back then my fears were real and validated by her performance). We’d cycle through the same pattern over and over…. There was a gap in her understanding, she’d stop thinking (or trying), I’d get angry (and scared), and then we’d battle. Ugh, if I could only do it over again knowing what I know now! Fortunately, we reached our end goal of catching her up and supporting her in reaching her potential, but as I look back I think “the road didn’t have to be so painful!”
My hope is to help you avoid the painful moments of supporting your children in learning so you don’t make the same mistakes I made. I have just published a free webinar, Supporting Your Children For School (and Home) Success, based on my book, A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Your Children in Learning at Home. In less than 12 minutes you can learn what impacts learning, what you can change when learning breaks down, how to create an Instructional Match, and how to reach any and every child, regardless of their age, skill-level, or the subject-matter. Even my own mother has said if she had these strategies when working with me as a child, it could have saved us a lot of tears!
As we learned when taking The Science of Happiness, there is something called the Knowing-Doing Gap. Jada explains it here, but in essence, science has discovered that just because we know better doesn’t mean we’re always prompted to do better (sometimes it takes a while for the synapses to connect). To help overcome this gap, starting in July, Jada and I are going to record A Parent’s Guide to Supporting Your Children in Learning at Home: A Confessional (stay tuned for details!). Together we will read aloud my book, piece by piece, and reflect on my personal strengths, shortcomings, and areas of growth as a parent and professional. Not only will this get Jada to read my book in its entirety, but it will be an opportunity for my own personal growth, in a format I hope helps others learn from my mistakes. Making mistakes is an opportunity for growth, but only if you reflect on them, so as we venture down this road I will be mindful of what my students often remind me, the goal is to “Aim for progress not perfection.”