We deal with readers’ major concerns about their kids and learning.
Q: My tween’s teacher complains that she isn’t handing in her homework and her usual good grades plunged after she made the school’s tennis team. What should I do?
A: It sounds like being in the tennis team has affected her ability to manage all her commitments. It’s challenging to balance both the requirements of classroom work alongside the newly added responsibility of training for the school’s tennis team. Speak to your daughter and try to come up with ways she can better manage her time. Time management is something many professionals struggle with, but is a skill that can be learnt — this is the perfect time to help her explore strategies to better plan her schedule.
Q: My son complains that he’s bored by his lessons and doesn’t see any point in studying, not when he can just take over daddy’s business even if he doesn’t have a degree.
A: The last thing you want is a child who grows up with a sense of entitlement! I would make it very clear that daddy won’t let anyone who hasn’t been well educated take over his business. Daddy may let him own the business but he may not be able to work there if he isn’t the best person for the job. Explain to him the types of jobs available to him if he doesn’t study and that running a business, even his daddy’s, is not one of them.
Q: My child doesn’t seem to be interested in studying and her grades are not good. Would it work if I punish her if she does not improve?
A: Generally, punishment does not work as a motivator. A minority of children will respond positively, but it is not long-lasting. Offering rewards initially based on effort, not results, is a more successful motivator. If your child is putting in a great deal of effort and still isn’t achieving the results you would like to see, you will have to rethink your expectations, or ﬁnd other ways to support your child. Tuition or educational support from a learning specialist may make all the difference. Also, look at what you mean by “her grades are not good”. Maybe she is not getting the high grades in school you would like, but her talents may lie away from academic subjects. Your job then is to discover what her talents are and support her development in that area, as well as in school.
Q: My son seems to think school is all about recess and seeing his friends. How can I make him understand the beneﬁt of studying hard, too?
A: If your son is enjoying school and looks forward to going every day, then that is great. Obviously, classes are not getting in the way of his enjoyment, so he must be feeling conﬁdent in his studies. If you feel he is not paying enough attention to his schoolwork, speak to his teacher. It could be that all he talks about are his friends and games at recess, as these are what he enjoys most in his day. If he is managing his schoolwork well, then that is ﬁne. I know that when I think back to my school days, what stands out are my friends, the social groups and the games we played. As he gets older, work will be a more important part of his day but for now, be happy that he enjoys school.
Answered by Fiona Walker, principal director of Julia Gabriel Centre.