Most children start school with a positive attitude and an open willingness to learn. They attend kindergarten classes where they learn basic skills as well as the social skills needed to be part of a group of learners. First and second grades build upon the basic concepts and social development grows as children learn to work with others. Teachers in these grades monitor the students closely and are available to offer guidance in a variety of ways.

Third grade is perhaps the first real experience children have of their active role in school life. This is the year when academic studies become more challenging; reading materials become more in depth, math concepts begin to spiral and students are expected work more independently.

Third grade is a significant year for students. Multiplication and division are learned and practiced during this time. These skills are critical as they lay the foundation for higher-level math yet to come. Many students experience stress from academic pressure for the first time, as they seek to grasps new concepts.

Parents see their children becoming frustrated with math concepts and seek to offer comfort. Oftentimes parents share that they too found math challenging as a child. These words spoken with good intent have a tendency to backfire for the student. What their mind hears from the parent’s well-meaning words is,

“Therefore, neither will you.”

Many teachers have had students who struggle with math sigh in resignation, as they share out loud, “my parents were not good at math either”.

The admission of academic weakness from the parent becomes an excuse, a reason if you will, for children not to put forth much effort. This defeated attitude does not serve students as they seek to understand new concepts in any area of academics.

For parents with good intentions, there are more constructive ways to give assurance and support. Listed are some suggestions that offer encouragement while facilitating growth in any academic area.

1. Let children know you have full confidence in their abilities. (Use matter of fact language. Leave no doubt that you believe in them.)

2. Create a specific time and place in the home for homework to be completed. (This adds structure and organization to their physical environment, as their mental abilities feel challenged.)

3. Have an adult in close proximity when children are doing homework. (This serves to keep them on task and to offer assistance if needed.)

4. Reinforce that some things take time and practice. (Tell them it is like a puzzle they may have had as a child. At first it was difficult, but over time it got easier.)

5. If your child becomes frustrated, ask school officials for resources in tutoring. (Many schools offer morning or afternoon tutoring done by the teachers.)

Your attitude towards their learning is a huge indicator of their level of determination. Be positive about their learning. Celebrate small successes. This encourages them to continue working towards their goals. Let your children know challenging material is good for the mind and aids in its growth. Your involvement and follow through will help to instill a positive self image as your children grow and learn.

Author's Bio: 

Victoria Cummings is a veteran educator who has worked with students in kindergarten through eight grades. She is a child advocate, especially for the little understood middle school child. Victoria has written a handbook for the middle school parent entitled "Nine Ways to Help Your Child Succeed". Her desire is to help parents raise happier, more successful children by offering advice on ways of navigating through these challenging years.