Homework! A word that puts a dark cloud of fear and loathing into the minds of many students. It also stirs negative emotions in the parents of those students. Homework often means parents having to nag and argue with their child to finish it. It means the child spending important family time in their bedroom pulling their hair out over the work. It also causes distress when the child begs the parent to help, and parents feel at a loss as to how to help.
When I was a teacher, one of the most popular questions I would get asked by parents was:
“How can I help my child with their homework?”
Well here are six tips to help parents work with their child and help them with their homework stress free.
1. Read the question.
When your frustrated darling comes running out of their room, ready to scream because they ‘just don’t get it’ ask to see the assignment or task. Spend some quiet time reading the question. Ask to see the rubric. Good teachers put a great deal of time designing assessments, however most students don’t take the time to read all they have been given. Help your child by reading all the teacher has provided the student.
2. Work from concrete to abstract.
When trying to explain a task, focus on the concrete first. Abstract words refer to intangible qualities, ideas, and concepts. These words indicate things we know only through our intellect. Concrete words refer to tangible, qualities or characteristics, things we know through our senses.
An ABSTRACT piece of advice would be: To improve in class, you’ll have to work hard.
CONCRETE: To move from a C grade to a B grade in class, you’ll need to do go to every class; do all your reading before you go; write several drafts of each paper; and review your notes for each class weekly.
By speaking in concrete terms your child will have a better idea on what they will need to do in terms of actions taken to improve.
3. Break complex learning into simpler components.
Kids get overwhelmed because they look at the overall picture. Many young people have trouble breaking a task up into bite size pieces, and feel a great deal of anxiety because they have no idea how they are going to get to the finished product.
Help them work out a step -by-step guide to complete their homework task. It may also help to write these tasks out on a timeline and put it somewhere everyone can see to make sure the steps are progressed.
4. Check for understanding of procedures and instructions.
As most teenagers feel it is their duty to answer in monosyllabic utterances, asking your child “Do you understand now?” may get you a “Yep, Ugh, Or AhHa” but will you really know that they understand enough to go on with the task? Asking open questions, asking for an example, asking to explain it back or even teach you a component are all ways you can see if your child really does understand.
5. Help maintain a record of achievements.
Big or small it is important to celebrate wins. This is especially true when it comes to homework. When your child completes a task they are proud of, take a photo, remember the details. This will act as evidence to provide them with when they are down on themselves and don’t think they can ‘do it’.
6. Encourage peer support and peer tutoring opportunities.
Kids can learn well from each other. Encourage your child to set up a weekly ‘homework’ session at your place after school. This can be a weekly get together where students can ask each other questions and consolidate their learning. Every student will take different lessons out of each of their classes. If they can get together and discuss those lessons they will be able to learn from each others perspective.
Remember, it may be wise to be close at hand to keep the little workers on task.
And finally, listen to them. Often kids are just frustrated by what they cannot do straight away. Sometimes they are not asking you to do it for them, or even to explain it, they are just looking for a sounding board to vent their learning frustrations. Listen carefully when they complain about homework, sometimes you may not need to do any more than that.
Animal-assisted therapy, at its most basic, is about animals and humans working together to improve the lives of humans. Dogs and cats are often used in therapeutic work, but guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, horses, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs and birds can all be used in therapy work. There are many ways that animals can be included such as:
Interactions with a therapy animal helps improve a patient's physical, mental, emotional and social state, which in turn helps them better engage and participate in the process of their treatment and recovery. Research suggests that 20 minutes with a therapy dog has a significant reduction in stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone and an increase in “health inducing and social inducing” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins. The AAT interaction often allows opportunities to build trust and stronger relationships between patient and professional (in our case tutor and student).
AAT dogs are particularly good at drawing out the most isolated personality, helping them to overcome feelings of emotional numbness and an inability to connect to others. Interacting with a dog, and even giving them obedience commands and doing simple exercises gets the individual to think about interactions in a new way. Helps them to practice being assertive, but not aggressive and look for non verbal communication cues. When the individual does interact with the dog they receive positive feelings when the communication goes well. Dogs are happy to receive the smallest interaction from us, and they encourage us with doe-eyes, rubs, licks and waggy tails to keep that interaction going.
When a professional includes an animal into their therapeutic practice, they should do so with certain goals in mind, for example, they may incorporate the use of a dog to explore and draw out issues of anger or attachment. Physical therapists may use handling of a small animal or grooming a horse in a motor-skills program, or dog walking in a fitness or strength-training program. In cases of PTSD it is important that the needs of the entire family are taken into account when helping a member of the family recover from PTSD. In this way AAT may assist in the recovery of the individual with PTSD as well as support for other members of their family.
AAT animals are not service animals. There are certain differences between Animal Assisted Therapy Animals, Service Animals and Companion animals. Service animals, for example, live with owners who have physical and emotional disabilities and are specifically trained (and usually funded) to assist them solely with daily living. In contrast, therapy animals work with professionals and clients.
In order to become an AAT certified dog in Australia the handler and dog must go through a course such as Lead the Way or Delta Therapy Dogs. Both courses train the handler in AAT interventions as well as the dog for suitability. The AAT dog must also meet stringent health checks to have access to hospitals, schools and nursing homes.
The annual Cruden Farm Family Fun Day is held at the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch's property at Langwarrin. This great day out benefits various charitable programs developed by the Mental Health Foundation of Australia and its Victorian branch.
Come and enjoy the exciting display of cars from yesterday, today and tomorrow, including a range of electric cars, the future of the motor car.
This year's Family Fun Day will be on 22 November 2015 from 11am to 3pm. Bring a picnic, enjoy the magnificent gardens and the entertainment provided. Special activities for children are always a feature of the day.
In fact, Canine Comprehension will be there training a new team member! We have had requests for Bertie the cat, (who you may have met at our puppy schools) to work with some of our young people as an Animal Assisted Therapy Cat. Therapy cats come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy cat is its temperament. A good therapy cat must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy cats must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled and cuddled. A therapy cat's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact.
We love the idea of getting Bertie involved. We know Bertie is a confident little man who loves traveling and meeting new people, so we thought this event would be a good opportunity to see if he is suited to further training.
We are holding our final Reading Corner for 2015 at Rainy Day Books, this one will be themed "Christmas Fun!" Reading corners are a great way to get kids excited about books and to give them a positive experience around reading. You may even pick up some great Christmas gifts in the bookstore!
Time: 11am - 2:00pm
Bagpiper playing Carols at 12.30pm
Location: 1301 Mountain Hwy, The Basin, Victoria
Bring: your kids and a smile.
We will provide fully trained Animal Assisted Therapy certified dogs to sit with your kids and encourage reading.
The Basin is a beautiful area, so you might want to stay for a coffee and one of the cafes, or even picnic in the beautiful park and children's play area across the road from the book store.
If you would like more information, or would like to book a reading event in 2016, please contact us!
Call Sarah on 0421 490 188
Or Rainy Day Books:
Call Meryll on 039762 0862
Read the feedback from previous Reading Corners:
"Thankyou so much for the great event you organised Sarah. The children loved every second of it. You and your friendly team were amazing with kids and adults alike. We have already shared with a friend who needs help with her son and his literacy development. She will contact you sometime soon. We also intend to share this with colleagues and in the kids school.The blog and pics are also lovely we wish you all the best in this initiative! "
"We would be recommending Canine Comprehension to any parents who's child is afraid of dogs.Sarah is very good with the kids and have trained the dogs well to sit for the children to pat them and lie still while the children to place a book on the dog while reading. Amazing to see the results with the children. "
Images from our past Reading Corners
As the end of the year approaches all I am thinking about is holidays. As we drag our way through November many of us will be taking time off over the Christmas break to spend with our families. What holidays do you have planned? Are you travelling with your four and two legged family members? How can you guarantee that time spent is enjoyable journey, rather than a stressful relocation? Here are my top tips for holidaying with two and four legged family members?
Preparation is key.
Make sure you have planned out your journey. Book ahead. Trying to remain spontaneous with
kids and dogs in tow is a recipe for disaster. Make sure each location is dog friendly and kid safe.
2. Leave plenty of time for the journey.
Kids can slow down any progress we make on our way to the holiday destination. Make sure you allow time for procrastinating, toilet stops, and tantrums. Dogs can be no help either. On long journeys they need to stretch their legs, pee on new trees and have a drink. By a having a little more time up your sleeve you can enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
3. Think about the weather.
What activities will you do when it is too hot or cold to venture outside? Have you packed clothes that will make the kids comfortable and able to venture outside? Do you need to think about a cool coat or winter coat for the dog?
4. Monitor health.
Due to lack of usual routine both kids and dogs can tend to get sick. Be prepared for low energy levels and the sniffles. Pack pain and fever medication, for your kids. Make sure you have both a human and dog first aid kit with you, which will include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer. We also pack Nutrigel for the dogs, which is a palatable high calorie dietary supplement which tends to give the dogs a little help when diet and stress levels are changeable.
5. Give the kids a digital camera.
Kids + camera + dogs = hours of activity. If your dog is happy to be put have their photo taken by the kids and the activity is safe get the kids to create a photo journey from the dogs perspective. It allows the kids to think outside the square, create a narrative and interact positively with the family dog. You will also end up with a pretty cool family album at the end.
6. Keep a close eye on diet.
Resist giving the kids too much sugar, you will regret it on the long car journeys. Instead pack savoury snacks. The dog should also be monitored. When meeting at gatherings people tend to make friends by giving the dog table scraps - that can add up to a lot of calories they don’t need as well as some foods that could be downright poisonous to your dog.
7. Is everything labeled?
Check to see that the kids clothes, games, toys have their name on them. So if left behind can be returned. On that note, is the dog labelled? Make sure they are wearing a collar with a mobile number (no use having a home phone when you are not at home). Also as you vet to check to make sure your dog’s microchip is readable.
Traveling with kids and dogs can be a wonderful experience. There is nothing better than having the whole family together at Christmas. These tips may just help in keeping the stress levels low and the happiness high!
Enjoy the upcoming holidays!
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