1. Determine Best Learning Environment for Your Child
When you begin this program, determine whether your child requires a structured learning area (for example, the kitchen table or desk) or whether your child needs more flexibility (such as a portable TV tray or lap tray). Some children may need to work in one or two areas that they associate with learning, particularly in the beginning of the program. Others may not sit still and may do better if you begin working with them wherever they happen to be playing. Your ultimate goal is to have your child learn in a structured learning area, because that is what is expected in school (a table or desk is best). If you are having trouble getting started, you might want to try using program materials after a meal or snack, while your child is still seated. Alternatively, you could offer a snack and then bring out the materials while your child is “held captive” by the snack. Your first priority is to get your child working. Try different settings and figure out what works best for your child.
2. Be Flexible and Creative
Whatever the setting for your learning session, be creative. Don’t always bring out materials in the same order or do the same tasks. Some of the best learning occurs when children are unaware they are learning (spontaneous teachable moments). You might offer to play school with your child using program materials and let your child be the teacher. You can also involve some of your child’s favorite stuffed animals or action figures in the session. Have your child read to a “friend” or have the “friend” read. Siblings also make for great props: some children love “showing off” for a sibling, and siblings benefit from being involved in the learning process. Flexibility and creativity will enhance your child’s learning time. So, use your imagination and have fun.
3. Know When to Stop
There will be times when your child is not receptive to learning (i.e., tired, sick, hungry). If you meet real resistance before you start, skip that time and find time later in the day or the next day. Alternatively, there will be days when your child will work for a while and become disinterested. If this happens remain in control. Try once or twice to engage him, saying “let’s do one more page” or “we will be done after this one problem.” But if your child won’t engage, announce “okay, I’m done for the day. You may go play.” Whatever your approach, use your child’s behavior as a guide and remain in control of when the session ends. You don’t want to become involved in a power struggle over working on program materials . . . because you will always lose!
4. It Works if You Work It
This program is intended to supplement your child’s formal education by providing you with direct instruction on use of program materials and by providing targeted materials designed to maximize your child’s ability to learn. But this program will not work unless you work with your child. Whether you target twice a week or five times a week, you are a busy parent with responsibilities that will interfere with program time on occasion. But, materials put in the corner each month and brought out only on rare occasions will not have much impact on your child. So, without letting guilt get in the way, put materials where you will “trip” over them. Integrate program time into your lifestyle (calendar program time, parking lot time (while waiting for siblings) or do program while siblings do homework). Whatever your method, find a way to integrate program time into your day, make good use of the materials, and have some structured fun with your child. Work it . . . and it will work.
5. We Are Here to Help
Remember to call upon us for assistance. We are here to support you in your teaching efforts. Feel free to share educational celebrations and challenges. If you have questions, please contact Taylor Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-524-0758