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Don’t Let Your Kids Fall Behind

November 5th, 2007

As a substitute teacher I was teaching a 3rd grade class today. The math topic was figuring out elapsed time on a clock.

“If the movie started at 6:30pm, and the movie was 1 hour and 15 minutes long, what time did the movie end?” The students are to write their answers on their individual white boards and hold up their answers.

Everyone in the class exclaimed, “Oh, it’s so easy!” and they got the answer right. Everyone except one girl who was unsure of her answer. After several more questions, I noticed that the girl is not getting it. Since everyone else in the class understood the concept and was getting bored of the explanations, I had to move on to the next subject.

In a class of 20 students, the class cannot be tailored to either the slow or the fast student. In the upper grade levels with over 30 students in a class, there is no way the teacher can teach to the level of your child.

If you notice your child struggling in a subject, it is best to intervene as early as possible. If he starts to fall behind, it gets harder and harder to catch up. The teacher will be moving on to more difficult concepts that cannot be understood if the foundational principles are not grasped. When everyone in the class says it is easy, your child will be even more discouraged, and have to hurdle a big mental block to get out of the rut.

First, seek the help of the teacher. If a student asks for extra help after school, teachers are more than happy to provide it. When a teacher sees a student eager to learn, he will not turn him away.

Second, make sure your child spends focused attention on his homework. Children get lazy and they don’t want to think. I honestly don’t blame them. Wouldn’t you rather play then to do work? Provide a structure of discipline by sitting with your child to do homework together to keep him focused. You can be reading the newspaper or paying your bills while sitting next to him. Give him help if you can, but just don’t give him the answers or do his work for him. (Yes, I actually know parents who do that.)

Tutoring is a good solution. If your child is still not understanding certain concepts, a good place to find a reasonably priced tutor is at the local high school. Ask the teachers at the high school for a referral. If your child is a high schooler who needs tutoring, check with a local college.

Don’t wait until the grades come in before seeking help. Not only do you have the bad grade on his record, but it is also demoralizing for your child to be known as the “slow” one in the class. Do him a favor by intervening early.

(This post should be read alongside my post on Building Our Child’s Self Esteem)

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  1. […] him a tutor . Seek help at the school or find private tutors. Some local libraries offer tutoring […]

  2. […] giving him extra help from the teacher or a tutor would be helpful, there is one overarching lesson in life this boy […]


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