The kids are back in school after summer vacation and you would like them to make a conscious effort to improve their grades. What can a parent do to motivate a child to stop fooling around and buckle down?  One of the most frustrating sentences a parent can hear from a teacher is: “Your child is not living up to his/her potential.”  Is there something you should be doing, or the teacher should be doing, to help them improve their grades?

First, take stock of why you child is not putting getting the grades you think he/she should. Is it just because he/she is lazy or is there another problem? Are they having trouble seeing the board? Do they understand what the teacher is saying? Do they ask questions when they don’t understand? Does he/she have trouble remembering what they have learned? Do you put too much pressure on them to perform and maybe they are not as capable as you think they are? Are they bored?  These are definitely questions you should be finding the answer to – without grilling the child. Simply ask them to be open with you so you can work together.

It could also only be something as simple as needing glasses, getting enough sleep at night, or asking the teacher to explain a problem. It’s possible there may be a learning disability. This would not be the end of the world. There are many special programs geared towards helping students, and it doesn’t mean they are slow, but their brains do not process the same way as others. It’s good to find this out as soon as possible so you can help them learn how to process the information, and keep them from feeling like they can never learn.

How does he/she learn? Does your child learn best by listening (auditory learner) or the use of flash cards and pictures (visual learner)? Does he have good language skills, and loves to talk (auditory), or is he constantly in motion, and enjoys doing hands on activities (kinesthetic or tactile learner)? Understanding HOW your child learns will go a long way in helping them to retain what they learn.

If you try to take an auditory learner and teach him through flash cards you will frustrate the child. The same is true of a child who is a kinesthetic learner and you ask him to memorize the names of the presidents from a list.

The experts at Funderstanding, making learning fun by allowing children to find their own path of learning through a series of positive games and exercises. It opens up and expands their brain to other areas of learning. They encourage the idea that “Each child is different, and when his specific learning style is determined, his ability to learn is enhanced, especially when adults are able to fine-tune teaching to fit his specific learning.”

Funderstanding encourages the parents to focus more on the individual achievements of the child rather than their expectations of higher grades. They advocate more interaction between the child, the teacher, and the parent through a process they call “Constructivism.” Although this concept is not altogether embraced by mainstream educators, it has proven to be effective outside the mainstream.

Proponents of constructivism ask teachers to depart from traditional methods of teaching. “Through constructivism, the main way of learning is the senses, causing the brain to build a full understanding of the surrounding world.” They encourage interaction, talk and asking questions.

Constructivism is not a focus on grades or exams. It focuses on the individual child, and their deep-rooted desire to learn. Practitioners “Find ways to encourage that learning through doing activities that are free of set limits and end results. Allowing a child to experiment with open-ended activities encourages creativity and self-esteem.”

By eliminating the pressure of grades, allowing your child to ask questions and helping him to find the answers, your child is able to learn more, often without realizing that he is learning. The grades, eventually, will fall into place on their own.

This is Ron White, memory training expert, memory keynote speaker and two-time USA Memory Champion. In my Brain Athlete memory training course we explore the different ways the brain processes information and how you can retrain it to improve grades.