Teenagers will often resist parent involvement in education when it comes to their student homework—even though they ultimately benefit from it. Find ways to get involved without having your teens see it as just another form of nagging.
Take it from me: The worst thing a kid can say about homework is that it is too hard. The worst thing a kid can say about a game is it’s too easy.” –Henry Jenkins, MIT
Ask questions about my student's homework.
Talking about assignments helps your teenager think about them in a more critical fashion.
Chemistry: "I never really understood the periodic table of elements. How does it work?"
Middle and High School Literature: "I never read ______ in school. What is it about?" or "I remember reading that in school. What did you think of the main character? She always reminded me of Aunt Mildred."
Math: "How is that math used in real life?"
Social Science: "How could you turn that idea into a business or money-making venture?"
Writing: "With texting, blogs, and social networking, writing seems to be back in style. Do you think all this online writing helps improve writing skills or does it hinder them? Where do you think you'll do the most writing after school is over? Do you find you write differently in different places?"
Foreign language: "Could you teach me the phrases I would need to know if I were to visit Paris?" or "How is German grammar different from English grammar?"
History: "Do you think we could learn anything today from how the average German citizens responded to *censor*? Do you think we could be fooled by propaganda and charisma the way they were then?"
Connect class work and homework to real life.
Find ways to connect your teen's student homework to real life experiences.
Is your son studying the relationship between speed and distance? Ask him to estimate how long it will take to get to his best friend's house the next time you drive there. Heap on praise for the right answer. Ask how long it would take if you went five miles per hour slower. What would he need to know to calculate that?
Is your daughter studying a play by Shakespeare? Do the characters remind her of people she knows? Why? Has she ever seen anyone in similar situations as to those the Shakespeare characters are in?
Is your son studying about the American Revolution? Is your daughter learning accounting? Talk about people's attitudes toward taxes throughout the years. Show them your income tax forms and see if they can fill the form out using your W-2s. Does the tax seem fair to them? Can they list what taxes pay for in your community? What services might they be willing to give up in exchange for lower taxes? What services would they like to get in exchange for higher taxes?
Is your teenager taking physics? Spend an afternoon making paper airplanes together.
Is your child studying probability? Spend an evening playing dice games such as Liar's dice (also known as Bluff), Yahtzee, Poker Dice, Craps, or Ship, Captain, and Crew. As you play, talk about what the chances are for particular numbers to come up with each roll. Make a chart with predictions based on probability laws and then record actual rolls.
Is your teenager in choir or band? Put the radio on scan. In the few seconds that each song is on the radio, try to identify what instruments are being played, what the voice range of the singers are or even what key or measure the song is being played in (depending on your teen's level of knowledge and your own).
Have my student teach me what she is learning in school.
One of the best ways to learn is by teaching. Pick a subject that your child is studying in school and ask him to create a test covering a variety of objectives in his current unit. (For example, if the subject is history, ask the child to write questions from throughout the chapters that they are working on. If the subject is English, have them write questions on whatever grammatical topics they've been studying or books they've been reading.) Encourage her to write 20 to 25 multiple-choice and short answer questions. After you've taken the test, have her grade it and provide correct answers for anything you got wrong. You can then even ask him to prepare a mini-lesson for you to teach you the information you got wrong. This will boost his confidence while giving him an excellent chance to review the material.
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