Ron White on Improving Your Child’s Grades

Ron White, memory training guy here! I’d like to address the subject of getting kids to do better in school.  What can a parent do to motivate a child to stop fooling around and get better grades?  One of the most frustrating sentences a parent can hear from a teacher is: “Johnny is really smart, but he’s lazy.”  How can you motivate your child to improve his grades and work up to his potential?

The first thing you will need to do is analyze why your child is getting behind in his grades, or why he would be labeled as “lazy.” Is he really lazy, or does he have a learning disability? Is the subject matter boring to him? Are you putting too much pressure on him to get good grades, and he is rebelling? Is he getting enough rest? Is he having trouble remembering what he has learned? HOW does this child learn?

Does your child learn best by the use of flash cards or 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)? Understanding HOW your child learns will go a long way in helping them to retain what they learn. In my Brain Athlete memory training course ( we explore the different ways the brain processes information.

Trying to take an auditory learner and teach him through flash cards will frustrate the child, and not end up with the desired grades. The same is true of a child who is a tactile learner and you ask him to memorize the names of the presidents from a list.

According to 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 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.