New year, new start! Has 2020 been the fresh beginning you hoped for or are your good intentions still more dream than reality? If they are, you are certainly not alone – research shows around a quarter of us will give up on our resolutions after a week. Before you start feeling guilty,remember that when we make resolutions, we are often setting ourselves up to fail. Instead of making one or two small changes we try to overhaul our lives entirely. We tell ourselves that this year we will finally take up yoga and live solely on broccoli whilst ensuring our children turn up to school freshly scrubbed, well-rested and with an award-winning science project underarm… Then we wonder why we feel so overwhelmed!

A far better approach is to concentrate on a few manageable areas. For parents hoping to help their children have a successful year at school, a limited focus is especially important. Children can find too much change stressful and struggle to adapt to new routines. You should carefully choose areas where your child will see the most benefit, then support them in taking simple steps towards improvement. Read on for our top tips on how to get your child’s learning off to a flying start in 2020!

Identify Areas for Improvement 

As much as you wish it were not the case, your time with your child is limited. Between arriving home and them drifting off to sleep, there are just a few precious hours in which to get chores, homework and dinner done, and enjoy some quality time together. For resolutions to stick, the time sacrifice they require needs to offer considerable reward – otherwise you and your child will quickly give up on them. 

The first step is therefore to identify the areas in which your child will benefit most from some input. Put together a list of tangible and specific goals that will help your child’s learning, avoiding anything too general. For example, if your child struggles with maths, choose a few exact skills they could practise that will lead to an overall improvement. This could be learning the eight times table, memorising facts about 2D shapes or using estimates. 

Your child’s school report and teacher should be able to help you choose some goals, and you can also refer to websites like The School Run that break down the year’s syllabus for parents. Remember to look back over previous years as your child may be struggling with an area that they covered earlier. It can be tricky to spot problem subjects looking only at classwork and homework, so an ideal way to spot areas for improvement is to approach a local tuition provider who offers assessments. For instance, Flying Start Tuition’s free Progress Check-Ups are tailored by year group and offer precise insights into your child’s learning development. 

Take Small Steps Towards Success

Once you have identified some clear goals, it is time to break these aims down into small, manageable routine changes. Firstly, ask your child how they will know when they have achieved their goal. Encourage them to build a vivid picture using all their senses. Will they feel comfortable answering eight times tables questions quickly? Can they see themselves working on 2D shapes happily? Will sounding out answers using estimates feel natural? 

When they have a clear image, ask your child what steps they could take each day to help them get to this point. Help them to make these steps as specific as possible. ‘Practise every day’ is too vague.Instead, try ‘recite my eight times tables when I wake up, answer quick-fire questions on the way to school and play an eight times table computer game every evening’. Make it even more manageable by asking them what help they will need to complete these steps each day. Reminders from you? Advice onwhich game to play? 

Avoid any temptation to ‘bribe’ your child to complete their steps. The aim is for your child to learn that a sense of accomplishment and self-improvement is their reward, as well as feeling more confident and able with their work. Do praise the efforts they are making and encourage them to reflect on the progress they have made. What can they do now that they could not a fortnight ago?

Goalsetting is a powerful tool to use throughout the year, so once your child has achieved their new year aims, make the most of their flying start to 2020 by reviewing and expanding their goals regularly. You could even try the strategy yourself – five minutes of yoga and a sprig of broccoli each day can go a long way!

Need a little help?Flying Start Tuition is an award-winning tuition centre offering classes for children from year one through to GCSEs, including their popular Eleven Plus programmes.  Classes run throughout the year at their main centre in Chesham and at their five satellite centres in Amersham, Aylesbury, Berkhamsted, Jordans Village and Little Chalfont. For details of upcoming events, including their free Progress Check-Ups, see www.flyingstarttuition.co.uk/events

Flying Start are Ofsted registered and accept Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare.  Bursaries are also available – please ask for details.

For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898

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