We aim to bring out the very best in all our boys at Trinity and ‘boys’ learning’ is our core business. So it’s important we work with parents to provide the optimum learning environment for our boys. The following seven tips, adapted from Andrew Fuller’s book Help Your Child Succeed at School, provide a great insight into improving your son’s learning at home.
- Ensure your son has an organised learning space.
Many boys struggle to set up and maintain a well organised learning space at home. Parents can assist with the practical aspects of setting up a home study area, such as an accessible desk away from distractions. You can also assist by encouraging your son to keep the space organised.
- Lighting can help or hinder learning.
Natural or indirect lighting such as a desk lamp is best for learning. Studying under fluorescent lighting is not ideal as it’s related to raised cortisol levels, which are an indicator of anxiety and agitation.
- How much television is too much?
From the age of two, a small amount of television viewing has been found to be positively associated with academic achievement. Once boys reach nine, 1.5 hours per day is regarded as the upper limit. At 13, the limit drops to one hour per day. At 17, the optimal amount decreases to around 30 minutes per day.
- There’s no such thing as a sleep bank.
Just because you get ten hours sleep one night doesn’t mean you can get away with only six hours the next. A good night’s sleep consists of at least eight hours and is essential. for optimal brain function. Memory consolidation occurs during sleep, especially dream (REM) sleep. During the normal eight to nine hours of sleep, five dream (REM) cycles occur. Boys getting only five to six hours of sleep lose out on the last two REM cycles, thereby reducing the amount of time the brain has to consolidate information.
- A good breakfast provides a great start.
It’s no secret that skipping breakfast has a negative effect on learning and concentration during the day, but the type of breakfast also has an impact. Boys need a breakfast that is high in protein (eggs, low fat dairy products, lean meat, fish) and low GI carbohydrates (porridge, muesli, bran-enriched cereal, fruit) to aid concentration and enhance learning. A high GI breakfast (sugary cereals, white toast) can lead to a decline in performance as the energy is less sustained throughout the day.
- Give your son feedback on his learning.
Feedback related to general praise, rewards or punishment has little effect on improving learning. Research shows the best way to provide feedback to improve achievement on a learning task is to focus on the task itself and how to do it more effectively.
- The essential skills for success.
Three of the skills needed for success at school (and in most areas of life) are concentration, memory and sequencing (or getting things in the right order). Games parents may play with their children such as Snap, Uno, Concentration, Battleships, Monopoly, Chess, Jigsaw puzzles, etc., all play an important role in developing these skills. However, computer versions of these games have been found not to be as effective.
To learn more about the educational journey offered at Trinity, you can watch a video on ‘A day in the life of a Junior School student’ here.