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August 30, 2012

Advice from teachers on how to make happier students

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It's not enough to just get the answers right. To make sure your child isn't guessing or spitting back memorized information, ask him to explain what he did and why, said Jesse Loznak, a science teacher at a middle school in Maryland.

"Even if the parents don't understand quite what the student has done, it lets you know that the child has completed the task," Loznak said. "For the child to actually explain what they're doing, it lets the parent know their child's level of understanding."

6. Don't compare your child with others

This applies to all children, but is especially important with kids who have learning disabilities or other special needs, said Andrea Demasi, a special education teacher at an elementary school in Virginia.

"It's important to understand the nature of the disability and don't compare them to their peers," Demasi said. "Don't put pressure on the child to be just like the kid down the street. There's no such thing as the kid that's like every other kid. Every kid is different. They all have strengths and weaknesses, they all have talents and challenges."

7. Help your child make connections to literature

To help your child get the most out of books, Susan Hsiung, a first-grade teacher in Maryland, suggests parents focus on problem-solving, social skills and life experience.

Take your child to the zoo (life experience). Teach her to ask an adult for help if she loses her jacket (problem-solving) or to hold the door for others (social skills), Hsiung said. With these skills in place, she will be able to relate her own life experiences to those of book characters, improving her comprehension.

"We're so focused on academics, which is very important, but what we forget is that some of these things fit in the curriculum as well," Hsiung said. "If they don't have these components and don't have these life experiences, and we ask them to make deeper connections to the material, it's hard for them."

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