6 Teacher Tips You Can Use at Home

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The best teachers know that all kids are complete individuals. While yours might drive you up the wall, chances are that she has some amazing qualities as well. Focus on the good and you might be surprised at how well your little one responds—and sending a treat to his awesome teacher can't hurt either.

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By Jae Curtis

Have you ever peered into a classroom and seen 25 studious heads bent over their work simultaneously and wondered how that teacher does it? You might struggle with keeping your one child under control, let alone a whole class of kids. The best teachers use sneaky secrets that turn a roomful of boisterous fourth graders into putty in her hands, and you can use the same tricks to get results at home.

Use a Reward Chart

Smart teachers use visual aids to keep kids' behavior in check. Whether it's a warning chart, a punch card or a reward chart, kids can easily see their status and use it as a motivational tool to get work done and behave in class. Jennifer Little, an elementary school teacher with 40 years of experience, agrees with the tactic. "Have a chart with what you are going to reward the child for doing," she suggests, noting that it's especially effective when costlier items are used as the reward. A similar chart in your own home can help you manage your child's behavior while teaching her that she needs to work for the things she wants. Two birds, meet one stone.

Give Positive Feedback

You've probably heard your child's teacher gush to you during a parent-teacher conference, but you're not the only one who gets kudos. Good teachers know that praise is often more effective than punishment when trying to elicit good behavior from a rowdy student, a rule that works well in the home. While you might want to whine about a messy room or undone chores, it's sometimes more effective to give props for what has been done, even if it's small. Your child soon learns to seek those good feelings that come from praise, which can whip her into shape.

Expect Excellence

One way that teachers get the best out of kids? By expecting nothing less. When kids act up, they're told firmly that a teacher expects better and that's that. This way, kids learn to govern themselves based on the standard set by the stellar teacher. You can do the same at home by focusing on expectations, rather than disciplining poor behavior after the fact. Set concrete rules for behavior at home and be prepared to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to consequences, so your child knows you mean business.

Personalize Content

Professional tutor and private educator Arziki Phenyo uses personalization to get kids to take notice. "Though content should always be linked to curricular goals and overarching standards, it is important to demonstrate how principles are important parts of students' everyday lives and interests," she says. "For instance, the class can calculate the average number of points their favorite basketball team scored over the last five games or how many runs their favorite baseball player frequently scores during games for a lesson on mean and mode." While it might sound tricky, the same secret can be used when working on behavior, like explaining honesty in terms your child will understand, bringing real-life experiences and people to hit the concept home.

Get Involved

Of course teachers are actively involved in their students' academics—it’s their job. But the best ones know that taking a personal and vested interest in each child means better overall success. Here's the thing: Of course you're personally interested in the raising of your child. But how vested are you really? Are you content to sit and surf the web while your child tries to figure out her math homework solo? Or are you side by side, keeping her on task and answering questions? By getting involved in your child's schoolwork and making yourself available, you'll know what she's studying, where she excels, where she struggles and how to help.

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Mix Business and Pleasure

The business of raising a child is no joke. But take a tip from smart teachers and make sure that you mix in a little pleasure with all that business. Whether you take a silly break after encouraging your child to have some quiet time, you practice writing by working on some funny jokes or just breaking the routine with an ice cream cone, your child gets the chance to associate good times with some of the more routine stuff. Bonus? You'll feel like a supermom too.

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