8. Praise and Positivity
Even with the best intentions and optimal study conditions, getting children to settle down and focus can be challenging, especially if they have difficulties with concentration and attention. But with practice, patience, persistence and positivity, a good routine can be established within a month. Remember to use positive reinforcement and verbal praise, because negativity and punishments only make children feel worse and do not motivate them to try harder. Offer specific praise to children that highlights their progress—not just results—such as "I'm proud of you for completing your math worksheets and for getting to the next level" versus a general "Good job!" Don't forget to also praise the child’s progress and not just the end result.
Be sure to communicate homework guidelines to after-school caregivers so they can create a consistent, positive and focus-friendly work zone. Create a written list that after-school caregivers can follow that details your expectations, from the quiet, distraction-free environment to the amount of time that should be allotted for homework and study time. Even if you are not home while your children are doing their homework—take time to check it and let them know you are engaged.
10. Work With Teachers and Instructors
Partner with teachers, instructors and tutors for advice and support. They may have insights, observations and suggestions you haven't considered. Be open to trying new ideas. Work together to establish short- and long-term manageable goals, expectations for improvement and progress.
11. Learn What Work Style Works
Children need to see and understand the value of study, but remember that people have different ways of learning and processing information. Make it a collaborative effort to find the methods that work best for their study style. Some children may work better if they are able to walk around and think out loud. Some children do better lying on the floor with their books spread around them. Others need quiet, stillness and structure. As long as they are making good progress, be flexible about what works for them.
Being able to focus, concentrate and maintain good study habits are life skills that will set your children up for success in all aspects of their lives—from the baseball field to the stage. It's not just about completing assignments, it's about establishing self-discipline and perseverance that will give them the ability and confidence to pursue goals, manage setbacks and know what it takes to achieve.
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