Category Archives for "Provide extra support"

Does your child need homework?

The short answer is it depends!

Here’s why.

Homework is useful if it helps your child review what has been taught in class, if it is a way of checking that lessons have been learned.  Then, provided the teacher checks the homework, he or she can adjust how and what they teach in the next lesson. This type of homework should be short and to the point.  Then, if your child has understood what has been taught he or she should be able to finish it in a few minutes.  No stress!

So if your child has homework that helps her practice what she has learned then homework is useful and as we all know, practice makes perfect!

Homework is useless if it tries to teach your child something he or she has not been taught how to do. When this happens children, and parents, get stressed and upset. Parents end up trying to show their children what to do – and they ways they do this might conflict with how the teacher says the work has to be done. Result – total confusion and frustration.

Does your child need this type of homework? I suggest that he or she really doesn’t need homework if all is it going to do is cause emotional upheaval.

But I hear your cries go up – What about the child’s learning?  What about the child’s progress?  How will my child progress if he or she does not do extra work?

Well, let’s get something clear -there is no proof that doing homework increases a child’s learning or his ability to learn.  In Finland – a country with excellent educational outcomes –I have read that teachers are forbidden to give students homework. Forbidden!!!

Teachers assume that children will work hard during school time and that they will use after school time to extend their interests, play sports, meet and talk to each other.  Now I am not sure how well this is working in this age of digital addiction but it has certainly worked so far.  Parents are expected to help their children develop life skills and are not expected to have to help with homework.

Ah, wouldn’t that be nice?  No homework, no stress, no late nights worrying about what the next school day will bring.

Teachers would be happy to not give homework, as long as they can get through what has to be taught during the day.  They tell me they give homework because parents ask for it, parents not kids.  And why do parents ask for homework – two reasons, they want to know what their child is doing in class and they want to keep their child busy in the evenings.

These are not good reasons.  There are better ways to discover what your child is learning and to keep them occupied each evening.

So, does your child need homework? You decide.

Want help with the homework hassle?  Download these 5 tips now.

and take the stress out of homework.




What to do when your child hates school!


When your child tells you that he hates going to school – take him seriously!  Don’t offer platitudes such as , “Oh, it will be OK next week”, or ” Things will get better” because your child is pretty sure they wont. “I hate school”, is a cry for help. A serious cry for help. A cry that cannot be ignored or brushed off.  A cry that needs care and attention the moment the words come out of the child’s mouth.

So what do you do when your child tells you that she ‘hates school’ or ‘hates her teacher’ or ‘hates homework’?

Work through these seven steps to find out how to solve the situation.

1. Take your child’s comments seriously

Don’t ignore, or brush off, your child’s comments even if you think that your child is just going through ‘a phase’.  Hate is an emotional word and one that most children only use when they have nowhere else to turn.  Your child might think that he or she hates school but in reality there is something else that your child hates, something that he or she finds hard to think about let alone talk about.

2. Get past the words

Your child doesn’t hate school.  He or she hates something about their experience in school and they only way they can express their feelings is by using strong statements.   Don’t tell your child that he or she doesn’t hate school – keep that to yourself – or you risk losing their trust.  Go along with your child’s statement until you can discover what caused it.

3. Ask the right questions

Now to the tricky part.  You have accepted that your child has strong feelings about school/their teacher/their work but now you need to discover why he or she has these feelings.  You need to get to the truth behind your child’s statement.  This has to be done carefully by asking the type of questions that will help your child understand his feelings and you understand what is causing them.  Start by saying how sorry you are that your child feels that way and perhaps it would help if he talked about it.  Had anything happened that annoyed him?  Did he get into trouble at school?  Is he being bullied? Is he struggling to do the work?  What has the teacher done to make him feel that way?  Ask questions that provide you with information

4. Don’t judge

Don’t comment on any of the answers.  Accept what your child is telling you without judging the right or wrong of the situation.  You can use questions to gently help your child better understand what has happened to cause this outburst but do not judge any of your child’s actions or those of others.  Listen and try to make sense of what has taken place.

5. Discuss options

When you know why your child is upset you can start to move towards solutions.  These solutions should come from a discussion with your child about what might be possible.  At this stage your child might dismiss these options as unworkable but persevere and offer several options until you can both agree on what needs doing. This step may take some time and you may not be happy with the result.  You may end up having to do something that you really don’t want to do. Measure your discomfort against that of your child’s and make the best choices.

6. Follow through

Now that you have a possible solution, one that you have discussed with your child and that you have both agreed to, it is time to follow through.  If you do not take action your child will lose trust in you and in your ability to provide the support he needs.  Don’t wait.  Start providing the support your child needs as soon as possible.  And set a date to review progress, to check if the problem has been adequately solved.  No one gets everything right on the first try so be prepared to…

7. …re assess the situation

Has what you tried worked? Has the problem been completely solved? or is there something more that needs doing?  Now is the time to evaluate your success.  Whatever happens do not give up on your child.  He or she has cried out for help – make sure that help is forthcoming!

If you want to learn more about how to help your child make sense of school download this pdf

Make School Make Sense

and register for my live webinar on September 28th, at 6PM Pacific ..

5 ways to make the new school year stress free

Here are 5 ways you can take the stress out of ‘back to school’ and get a great start on the school year.

  1. The practicalities

You know all about these.  The media is full of things you can buy for the new school year – but you don’t have to buy them!  Yes, children may need a few new clothes, after all they have probably grown during the summer, but don’t go overboard, only buy what is absolutely necessary.

Your child will need school supplies, pens, binders, new school bag etc. At this time of year you can find good deals on these.

Put together some food ideas too.  What can you buy in that will make preparing school lunches easy and quick to prepare?

2.  Establish Routines 

Now is the time to re-establish family routines.  These include regular bedtimes, meal times, homework times as well as the routine of getting out the door in the morning!  having a ‘ready for school routine is one way of preventing the stress that can happen over breakfast!

And don’t forget YOUR routines.  What arrangements can you make that will make life easier for you?

3.  Understand different roles

This is important as understanding people’s roles in helping children make a success if school can prevent stress building up and causing problems.

Your role is the ‘set the scene’ for learning so that your child can benefit from what the teacher is teaching.

The teacher’s role is to teach your child – a task that is made much easier when you have set the scene.

The school’s role is to keep your child safe and to provide as many learning opportunities as possible.

Your child’s role is to do his of her best work and to tell you when he or she is struggling to understand homework assignments.

Don’t get them mixed up!  That leads to stress all around.

4. Get a handle on expectations

Knowing what everyone’s expectations for the new school year are takes away the frustration of not knowing what to do.


What expectations does the teacher have around homework?  What help does he or she expect you to give your child?  Does he or she expect you to provide information when your child finds homework too hard or too easy?

Knowing these expectations takes most of the hassle out of homework time.

School behaviour

Does the school have a policy on dress? Lateness? Absenteeism? Communication with parents?  Does the school expect you to volunteer or to go on  field trips?

You amy already know this – but it might be a good idea to check.

Your expectations

What do you expect from the school, the teacher and your child? What are you going to do if these expectations are not met?  How can you communicate with the school and your child’s teacher?

Do you need to modify your expectations in light of what the school expects?

Your child’s expectations

Talk to your child.  What does he or she expect the new school year to bring?  Do you need to help him or her modify these expectations?  How are you going to do that?

If your expectations and your chid’s expectations do not match the year could be more stress than it needs to be.

5. Open Lines of communication

Knowing how you, your child’s teacher and your child are going to communicate is probably the biggest tip of all.  Discover how to contact your child’s teacher (ask them about the best way to do this).  How and  when do letters get sent from the school?  How can you know what your child is learning in class?

Most of all set aside time each day to talk with your child about their feelings, their work, and any concerns they may have.  Don’t let small difficulties become major problems.  opening lines of communication can prevent that happening.

Quick review.

Make the new school year stress free by handling the practicalities, establishing routines, understanding everyone’s role and their expectations and by keeping lines of communication open at all times.

Believe me, everyone wants a stress free year.  These five tips will help you make it happen.

If, despite these tips, the year starts to get stressful contact me and we can sort it out.



Make the next school year the best ever!

A new school year is just around the corner.   Anticipation is high.  Stress levels are rising. You will soon be wanting answers to questions such as – What teacher will my child get?  Will she be able to do the work? How can I help make it a successful? How can I take the stress out of homework?

All good questions needing answering.  And here I am to answer them!

  • I can’t tell you which teacher your child will get – but I can tell you how to make any teacher the best teacher for your child.
  • I can’t tell you whether your child will be able to do the schoolwork – but I can tell you how give your child the skills that make learning easy.

And I can tell you how you can ensure your child has the best year ever, without homework issues and with less stress than you ever thought possible.

How can I promise this?  Because there is one secret that holds the key to your child’s success – and I can tell you where to get it.

Before I do that you need some context.

When you are not feeling well and you want to feel better you go to doctor who diagnoses the problem and tells you how to get healthy again.  You learn they type of support you need.

When you want to help your child learn you need a way to find the type of support that is going to make that happen.  You need a way of diagnosing your child’s learning needs.

If you guess what medicine will make you healthy or you guess what support will help your child needs … well, we all know what guessing can lead to.  You may take the wrong medicine and end up sicker than before.  and your child may get the type of support that makes learning more difficult.

So, the secret to making the next school year the best ever is to stop guessing what support your child needs and start discovering what support will make a difference.

I know, no one is telling you how you can do this.  No one is giving you the information and advice you need to make next year fantastic – until now!

Check out , take the free easy diagnostic assessment and discover how you can make next year, and every year after that,  the year your child truly shines.

It is easy – and it works. What more can you ask for?



How to chose the best tutoring program for your child.

Parents often ask me which educational tutoring program they should choose to send their child to. They have heard good and bad things about most of the educational programs out there and want to know which one will work best for their child.

I always reply, “It depends!”

I know that this is not a very helpful answer but it is the best I can do. You see any of the educational programs that parents choose have the ability to help children learn, the problem is they might not help your child learn.

Tutoring services are based on specific educational philosophies. One famous program is set up on the belief that children learn through practice and that given enough practice and small enough steps all children can master certain skills. Others are based on beliefs about the size of learning groups or formal, structured approaches to learning. And they all work. Rather, they all work for some children: none of them work for all children.

Why do they work for some children and not others? It depends (there I go again!) on how children like to learn. Some children learn best in a structured, formal setting while others prefer a more liberal free-ranging approach. Some children like to absorb information step-by-step and some prefer to create learning out of a mess of information and ideas. Some children like to learn by themselves, others learn best in groups where they can chat and share their thoughts.

Children learn in many ways and unless the tutoring service you are paying for uses a way of helping children learn that matches your child’s you are wasting your money. That is why I say, “It depends!”

So, in order to choose the tutoring program that will fit your child’s learning needs first work out how your child likes to learn, then find a program that teaches that way. You will be glad that you did. Your child will be a happy learner and you will see immediate results!

Want to know how your child learns? The quickest way is to ask them. Ask your child what he likes and dislikes about lessons in school and find out if he likes to learn alone, in a group, by looking, by listening or by any of the many other ways children prefer to learn.  You could also take my free diagnostic learning assessment at – you will get the results within minutes.

Then check out how the educational tutoring services teach their students. If there is no match don’t waste your money no matter how good a reputation the company has. Believe me, I have worked with many parents who have spent a lot of money sending their children to tutoring services with little result. Not because the tutoring service was not good, most are excellent at what they do, but because the way the child was taught did not match the way he or she liked to learn.





3 Ways To Ensure Children Get The Education They Deserve

Is your child getting the best from school?

Is your child getting the best from school?

I am sure that you have heard the saying, ‘it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease’.   Well, in schools, it is the committed parent whose child gets the best education!

I know that it shouldn’t work that way – all children should get the education they need and deserve – but it does.  After 35 years in the classroom I have seen countless occasions where parental involvement made a difference to  children’s schooling.

But there are ways parents can do this effectively rather than turning the teacher off and making life difficult for a child.   Yes, unfortunately it does happen and I know that many parents shy away from getting involved with their child’s teacher because they fear their child will be stigmatized.

Here are three simple ways that you can – and must –  get involved with your child’s school to ensure that your child gets the best that the school can offer.

1.  Communicate

Too often children fall in the cracks between school and home.  Communication is the answer.  You need to know what your child is doing in school and the teacher needs to know what you are doing at home.  Report cards and parent-teacher conferences are not enough.  Find ways to communicate on a regular basis with your child’s teacher and expect him or her to do the same for you.

2. Consider

This is  harder to do but oh so important!   Kids learn in many different ways.  Teachers teach in a limited number of ways.  If the way your child is being taught does not match the way he or she learns best schoolwork will become a struggle.  Discover how your child learns  and how the teacher teaches so you can provide strategies that help your child adapt his learning.  ( My Good to Great Program helps you do this!)

3. Consult

Learn about the support systems that are available for parents.  Each school should have an organization dedicated to giving parents support.  Get involved and find out exactly how that group can support you and your child.  And, if you have concerns about how your child is being taught consult this organization to discover what you can do to change the situation.

These are the three C’s of working with a school so that your child s=gets the best the school can offer.



How to make learning fun – one easy step at a time.

When learning is fun!

When learning is fun!

Imagine  your child loving learning, happy to do homework, never again struggling in class!

You can make this happen.

The secret?  Understanding that children need to learn how to learn.  Children need a set of basic skills that they can use in any learning situation.  Without these skills your child will  never love learning, never be happy to do homework, and will struggle in class.

And the wonder is that it is so easy to help your child develop the skills he or she needs.

One way is to Share  (This is one of the 3S’s that lead to learning success)

When you want your child to do something never assume that he or she knows what to do and how to do it.  Her is a simple three step process that you can use everyday to help your child develop the skills that lead to learning.

‘I, We, You’

( suppose that you want your child to make his bed)

1.  ‘I”

You do the task while your child is watching – and you talk about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

2.  ‘We’

Now you do the task together with you helping your child do the task well.   You need to unmake the bed before you do this.

3. ‘You’

Now it is time for the child to do the task on his own – while you stand around and offer help ONLY WHEN ASKED!

If your child can do the task well you can now assume that he is ready to take the responsibility of getting the job done.  No more excuses.

And don’t forget to congratulate him on learning a new skill!



What a difference a day makes!


I can read now!

I can read now!

Do you remember this song….?

“What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain”

The song is about falling in love but 24 hours (or only a little longer) can  change rain into sunshine and flowers for children who are struggling to learn.

Jenny is a bright Grade 3 student but she was only reading at Grade 1 level.  She hated reading.  She did whatever she could to avoid it.

No child should hate reading – something had to be done.

An assessment of her learning  showed she was a visual learner who had been taught to read using phonics and was trying to  read by sounding out every word.    No wonder reading was difficult for her.

When she was introduced to a visual approach to learning to read – (looking at the words and the shapes they made) reading began to make sense.

Jenny soared.  In three weeks her reading level went from  Grade 1 to Grade 3!!

Ok – this didn’t happen in 24 hours – but increasing reading level by two whole grades in just three weeks, well, that is even more impressive than falling in love.

I can’t help you fall in love but I can help you make a difference in your child’s learning life.




3 Stress Free Ways to Stop the ‘Summer Slide’.


Avoid the summer slide!

School is out.  Summer is here.

Everyone want to have a good time and that does not include having to do schoolwork!

But all teachers know about the ‘summer slide’ – kids can lose up to three months of learning during the summer.

All because students ‘switch off’ from school type work.

Some students go to summer school. This can help keep them in a ‘thinking mode’.  But what about this kids who don’t go to summer school? What can parents do to help them avoid the summer slide?

I have read several articles that tell parents to buy workbooks and to set a work schedule for their child.  This seems like a lot of work and I doubt parents have the time or energy to follow through.

So here are three simple, practical, ways you can help you child avoid the summer slide and be ready for the new school year.

1.  Talk to your child.

Summer is the perfect time to help your child learn more about the world.  Talk about what is in the news,  what TV programs she likes, what activities he wants to do and why.

Use this time to really get to know more about your child and to help him or her get to know more about you.

2. Expand experiences

Can you take your child to your work for a day?   Can you help him or her get a part-time job?  Set up a schedule for household chores – after negotiating which your child will do and which you will do – and expect him or her to be responsible enough to do them.  Talk about your school life, what you enjoyed and what you didn’t.  Ask about your child’s school life, talk about feelings rather than results.

Summer is the perfect time to learn something new, and to keep the brain active.

3.  Schedule time to be together

Can you set up a family games night once a week?  How about a time to go for a walk or even a time to sit together and read?

Your child needs to know that you are there to support him when he needs help – making time to be together is one of the best ways to do this.



Essential summer planning


Happy kids

Happy kids

Summer is here – time to forget about school and have fun.  But before you do that I want you to spend five minutes reviewing the last school year.


Because only when you know what your child did last year can you plan for a summer of fun AND  learning.  And to achieve that you need to know what support your child needs.

Was your child’s report card all that you expected?  Take five minutes to review the year and to think of three things that you would like to see changed.

It could be something to do with homework – does it take too long or not long enough?  Is your child always rushing to meet a deadline?  Does your child do his or her best work?

It could be an issue with a particular subject – – does your child need catch-up? Or to be taught in a different way?

It could be something about your child’s school – what class will he or she be in next year?  What will be taught?  How can you give your child  ahead start on the year?

Try to pinpoint where things could be better, then schedule a call with me to discuss your concerns and get some answers.

Summer is a great time – but don’t waste it!


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