MLC: Building Confidence and a Love of Learning
The years from 1st through 8th grade are the most important years of your child’s education. This is the time when your child is being given the essential building blocks for their academic and social skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s important to make sure that the habits your child is building are ones that will instill confidence and a lifelong love of learning.
During these formative years, students need to have learning experiences outside of school that reinforce classroom skills and curriculum objectives, while giving them autonomy over their learning. This creates independence that makes students feel trusted to make the right decisions regarding their education. When students have the tools to succeed independently that’s when they build confidence and see learning as fun.
What can your child do to master key concepts in their classes, build confidence in their studies and themselves, and enjoy the process of learning?
Read on to find out!
1. Practice the skills they learn in class at home.
Students often believe that attending class is enough, and that after the school day is over, they can put their books away until tomorrow. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In order for students to understand course concepts sufficiently, they must be reviewing their notes and/or practicing skills outside of school. Students don’t need to be studying for hours on end. We recommend that your child set aside 20 minutes every day of uninterrupted study time after school where they apply the strategies or concepts learned in their classes to practice materials. They should also take this time to review, rewrite, and annotate their notes.
Rewriting and annotating notes helps students better understand information in their own words and makes sense of difficult topics. Plus, students can keep track of any questions they have about anything they don’t understand in order to ask the teacher during the next class.
2. Annotate every text.
And on the subject of annotating notes, students should annotate all texts they encounter, whether it’s a short story for their Language Arts class or a word problem for Math.
Again, the benefit of annotating a text is that students are able to make sense of difficult topics, so that they can more easily use the information present to write papers, solve problems, or perform experiments.
“Talking to the text” through annotation teaches students to make the distinction between essential and non-essential information. Also, interacting with the text helps students build analysis skills as they are making judgements and meaning of quotes, words, and passages based on their opinions. Students learn to see connections between a variety of texts or concepts.
For students just starting to build this skill, here is a brief guide to annotating. Students should look out for and underline/highlight for the following:
- Important parts of the text, such as character descriptions, theme development, numbers, facts, or processes
- Any information in a text that is confusing or difficult to understand
- Quotes or passages that your child has a question about
- New or challenging vocabulary
- Quotes or passages that elicit an emotion from your child as the reader: Did a particular quote or passage make your child feel happy, sad, or angry as they were reading? Then, they should underline it. Bonus points if they make a brief note explaining why the quote or passage made them feel the way they did while reading!
3. Read, read, read.
Did you know that children who read just 20 minutes a day, outside of school hours, are exposed to 1.8 million words a year? That’s huge for childhood development!
We know the obvious benefits of reading, from improved comprehension skills to a more robust vocabulary. But reading helps children build their focus, their imagination, and their writing skills. And reading fiction, specifically, has been proven to build empathy. So, not only does reading improve their classroom skills and increase their likelihood to score well on tough admissions tests like the SAT, but it also aids in improving social skills as well.
If you’re looking for a book to get your child into reading, we have a list of titles for you from a diverse range of authors and genres. Check out our specially curated reading list for students in grades 4 through 8!
4. Develop a strong relationship with writing.
For most students, writing feels like a daunting task, especially essay writing. But the more students practice writing, the stronger their skills become.
Students should practice writing every day through a variety of mediums in order to become more comfortable. Some good ways of introducing daily writing are through journaling, free writing, and writing prompts. These practices help students find their voice by allowing them to write without the restrictions of writing rules, thus making writing accessible and building their confidence.
5. Use their teacher as a resource.
Teachers are some of the most underutilized resources in the classroom.
Utilizing your teacher as a resource goes beyond just asking for extra help after school. Teacher feedback is one of the best tools for improving your child’s skills. Whenever your child receives feedback on their work, they should make a point to revise their work based on the feedback. Then, ask their teacher if they can look over the revision. Feedback is useful because it is individualized to your child’s specific needs and can give your child important information on how to improve.
Your teacher can also give you specific resources, materials, and practice exercises that you can use during your independent study sessions outside of class.
If your child is looking to master key concepts in the classes and build their confidence in a fun setting, then check out our MEK Learning Circles!
The first step is to register for our free, virtual MEK Learning Circles Evaluation Test. You’ll receive our signature detailed score report and learn where your child stands in core subject areas, such as English and Math. Plus, the Director of our MLC Program, Ms. Binal Patel, will give you her expert recommendations for the next steps on your child’s academic journey based on their needs and goals.
We look forward to hearing from you! Contact us today!