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[Parent Tips] Targeting Your Child’s Academic Weaknesses

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 -- Elaine Ho

With the school year coming to a close, children and parents are looking forward to summer activities, family vacations, and days of sunny relaxation. But, as you’re getting those end-of-the-year report cards, this is also a good time to identify some areas your child could improve upon before transitioning to the next grade in the fall. The extra free time that summer break offers can be the perfect opportunity to try new things outside of the classroom to help your child gain confidence and boost competency in academic areas in which he or she has had some trouble. So, where to begin? Start by finding your child’s areas of growth, then plan the right activities to move the needle!

Identify your child’s academic weaknesses:

1. Partner with your child's teacher. Before the school year closes, be sure to check in with your child's teacher. The teacher will likely have insights into the areas where your child struggles, as well as any patterns or habits your child has that could potentially contribute to weakness. Getting an objective third-party opinion on your child's performance from a teacher can also help you see beyond any of your own biases (after all, whose kid isn’t the best kid in the world?) and determine next steps.

2. Encourage self-evaluation. Have an upfront conversation with your child about his or her academic performance. Ask your child where he or she felt the weakest, which subject he or she enjoyed the least, and why. If your child is in elementary school, this kind of self-evaluation may be difficult; he or she may be better at identifying how he or she compares with other children. If that’s the case, try asking questions like what does he or she notice other students doing pretty easily that he or she has a hard time with?  

3. Observe your child in various settings. Simply spending time with your child and engaging in various activities like playing at the park, going to the library, or visiting a museum can help you learn a lot. Which tasks seem to come easily for him or her and which are difficult? Often, what children enjoy doing are the tasks they feel the most competent in. See where your child’s interests lie and where he or she naturally gravitates—as well as what he or she is avoiding.

Once you've identified your child’s area(s) of weakness, invest time in exposing him or her to a variety of learning opportunities within the subject that he or she may not be able to access in the classroom. Take advantage of the summer months to foster greater familiarity and comfort with the subject in a new environment. Here are some tips across different subject areas:

Tips for if your child is struggling in English language arts or social sciences:

  • Going on a road trip? Look into audiobooks. You can even subscribe to Audible for a wide selection of audiobooks to choose from. Some audiobooks are even dramatized for more reading enjoyment.
  • Encourage writing by spending time researching and writing stories based on your community. You can build research skills and also develop a deeper sense of place.
  • Build a blog with your child to share your family’s summer adventures.
  • Start a summer reading challenge. The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program offers a free book for every eight books read, and Scholastic hosts an annual national challenge. Many schools and districts also hold their own summer reading programs.
  • Read a book that has been turned into a movie, and then plan a family movie night to watch the adaptation.

Tips for if your child is struggling in math or science:

  • Plant a summer garden with your child. Gardening skills make math and science more engaging by providing hands-on practice of such skills as problem solving, measurements, geometry, data gathering, and counting and percentages
  • Play family board games that incorporate math, such as Monopoly and Yahtzee.
  • Raise money for a charity together by gathering recyclables from the neighborhood, having a bake sale, etc. 
  • Have your child help out with a small household construction project, and have him or her do any calculating and measuring.
  • Take your child grocery shopping with you, and have him or her help you calculate the true costs of items.
  • Assign your child to be your sous-chef when preparing family meals. He or she can practice measurement skills, and you can talk about the simple science behind cooking.

Always remember that the key to growth in any area of weakness is being able to learn and fail in a safe space. Encourage your child to view failures and struggles as part of the learning process that everyone goes through (even adults!). Remind him or her that you are his or her biggest cheerleader and that you will always be there to help and support. And don’t forget to set aside time for the fun stuff—summer can be both enjoyable and filled with meaningful learning!

Investing in an online learning solution like Study Island for Home can provide structure and daily practice for your child to target specific areas of weakness over the summer. All Study Island for Home content is aligned to your state standards, so you can be confident that your child is working on the same skills that will be seen when he or she returns to the classroom. Now is the perfect time to sign up—take advantage of our 20% off summer special by using the promo code SUMMER today!