Category Archives for "Develop learning skills"

Sep 26

5 Essential Rules So Kids Get Their Homework Done On Time and Without Fuss

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , home page

Homework is a hassle.  Your child does not want to do it and you spend time and effort making sure the homework gets completed on time.  Family life is a mess, you never get time to do what you want to do. Parents complain about homework all the time.  “My child has too much”’ “My child has too little”, “My child never wants to start on time” and so it goes on.

Never let homework create problems between you and your child.   Your relationship with your child is much more important than any homework he or she may have to do!

Following these five basic rules will take the sting out of homework help AND make homework the positive experience it is meant to be.

Rule #1    Whose homework is this?

Teachers set homework for students.  They do not expect, or want, parents to do any of the child’s homework.  I have known some teachers give a mark to a student and another mark to the parent because it has been obvious that the parent has done most of the work!

Yes, I know that you want your child to get a good grade, and I know that you will do whatever you can to make life easier for your child, but doing some or all of their homework for them is not the way to make this happen.

What if someone volunteered to do all your shopping – sounds nice doesn’t it – but when that person is not around and you need to buy something you would not know which shop to go to or where to find what you needed.  You would not have learned how to shop for yourself.

That is what happens when you do your child’s homework for him or her.  You are stopping your child learning and you are preventing your child taking the steps that lead to being an independent learner.

I know you want to help but there are better ways, continue reading to discover what they are.  The first rule you need to remember is that homework is for your child – not you.  Let your child take responsibility for getting homework completed. It is the only way to learn.

Rule #2     Only help when asked to help

Don’t hover.  Let your child get on with doing his or her work without interference from you.  Make sure that your child knows you will be around if he or she needs help but set the expectation that your child will do the work and that you will only help if he or she asks for help.

This might mean that your child’s work is not as good as you want it to be but that is fine. The teacher needs to know what your child can do and what he or she needs help with doing.

And only offer the type of help that your child asks for – remember rule #1 – and do not take over your child’s work no matter how much easier it would be for you to do!


Rule #3    Respect your child’s preferred learning style

Children learn in different ways. Some learn best when they are alone, others when they can interact with people around them.  Some like to be shown what to do while others prefer to have things explained to them.  Some need frequent breaks and the ability to move around, some like to listen to music, some need to be near a window!

When you know how your child likes to learn you can make sure that he or she has the right set up to get homework done.  Your child might need a desk in his room, or might prefer to work on the kitchen table.  Does your child need music while working or does she work best when things are quiet?

If you need to discover your child’s learning preferences go to and follow the links to  links to the free Porter Diagnostic Learning Assessment.  It only takes a few minutes and you will get all the information you need.

One more thing – do not assume that your child learns the same way you do.  I have seen Word Smart parents become frustrated and confused when their Picture Smart child didn’t seem to get what they were explaining.  And I have seen Number Smart parents in despair because their child seemed to have no sense of organization or plan to get their work done!

Decide what works best for your child and then adapt the way you help to meet your child’s needs.

Rule #4    Tell the teacher

This is important.  Tell your child’s teacher if homework is taking too much time or too little time.  Tell your child’s teacher if your child finds homework too difficult or too easy.   Tell your child’s teacher if homework is making your child unhappy or stressed.  And tell your child’s teacher why your child has failed to complete homework. Teachers need this information so they can make adjustments to the amount and type of homework they set.

You don’t have to make this a big deal.  Either call and set up a time to talk to the teacher or send a short note an ask for a response of some kind.  Most teachers are willing to talk things over with you if you approach them with the attitude that you are both in this together and you both want to do the best for the child.  If you don’t get any response from the teacher, ask to speak to the Principal.  It takes time, but your child’s future is worth it!

And make sure that your child knows you are going to do this.  You may be surprised by how many homework issues get solved once your child knows that you will do this!

Rule #5   Don’t nag

It is so easy to fall into this trap and it can be quite difficult to get out of it.  When you nag your child to start homework or to get it finished on time you are taking away their responsibility to get their work done.  You may think that you child is not capable of being responsible for getting their homework finished but there is no way they are going to learn this unless you allow them to become responsible.

Use the ‘Two times – and you’re out!’  strategy.    First, remind your child that homework has to be done.   Just one sentence, no more.  Then leave it up to him or her when to start doing the work.  If nothing happens and it looks like homework is not going to get done you can again remind your child that homework needs doing and this time you can add on consequence of not getting it done.  You might say something like, “Just a reminder about your homework and that if you don’t get it done you won’t get the grades you need”.  No judgement, just facts.

Then say nothing more.  It is your child’s responsibility to get to work now, not your responsibility to remind him or her.  He or she has to take the consequences of their action, or lack of action.  Don’t say another word!    Never ever say “I told you so” or anything like that.  Never comment on what your child is doing or not doing.  Do not nag!

It is hard to do this at first. It might take several tries before your child accepts that the responsibility is his.  There might be push back.  Trust me, persevere and in a few days or a week things will get much better.

Five rules.  Five ways of doing things that will take the sting out of homework AND help your child learn more.  Try them and then let me know how they are working for you – and your child.

Register for Homework Onlione Workshop
Jul 26

Stress and students:What Every Parent Should Know

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , home page

One third of students in a long term research study were found to have moderate to severe symptoms of stress.  Signs of stress included feeling worthless, being nervous, thinking things were hopeless, and being so depressed that nothing could cheer them up.  Older students were also worried about student debt and the job market.

One third! And the number is rising!  This is a big problem.

Stress has long term consequences on a student’s ability to learn and may even effect his or her health and well being. Stressed out and unhappy students can withdraw and this causes difficulty with family relationships.

It is too easy to say kids are stressed because the list of things he or she is expected to do and to learn keeps on growing.  The real reason is not about what others expect but that students not  not have the skills to solve the problems that are causing the stress. We need to prepare children by giving them the skills they need to cope with the challenges they are facing.

Who can do this? Schools try but they have limits to what they can achieve. Parents must help.  Parents are the ones who can ensure children develop the self confidence and self esteem to know they can handle challenges, to see failures as learning opportunities, and to maintain a good attitude about the future and ward off depression. These are some of the basic skills that all children need.

The problem is no one is helping parents help children develop these skills. Parents are left on their own, trying to do the best they can.  I know, I have work with many parents who are desperate to know what they can do to support their child’s situation.

Before we start to condemn students for spending too much time on social media, teachers for expecting students to do too much, and parents from neglecting to provide children with the support they need we should provide parents with the ways and means of stress proofing children.

Only then will students have the skills they need to handle the challenges that face them on a daily basis.


Jul 06

The One Catastrophic Mistake Parents Make When Helping Children Learn And How To Avoid It.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Parent Power

I hate when this happens.  And it happens often.  What am I talking about? Parents doing their best to help their child succeed in school yet making the one catastrophic mistake that makes all their effort useless.

It goes something like this.  Child comes home with homework that he struggles to complete.  Parent rushes to help by telling child how to do the work.  Child looks confused and says ‘That is not the way my teacher told me!’  Parent frustrated because her help is rejected.  Everyone is upset.  No one knows why.

The big catastrophic mistake parents make is to assume that the best way they can help their child is by giving them ‘more school’, is by taking over the role of the child’s classroom teacher by trying to teach their child what he or she should have learned in the class.

Let’s be clear – parents have a vital role to play in helping children learn but their role is very different from that of the teacher.  Parents don’t need to give their child ‘more school’ they need to support their child in the way that only a parent can.  And if they don’t do this their child misses out and will never reach his to her potential.

How do parents avoid doing this?  Until now it has been almost impossible to avoid taking on the role of the teacher because no one as telling you what else you should be doing.

But that has changed.  Research states that what you do with your child AT HOME DURING REGULAR FAMILY ACTIVITIES is much more important to a child’s success than when you give your child ‘more school’.

Your role is to set the scene for learning, to make sure that your child is ready to learn, to ensure that your child can benefit from what the teacher is teaching.

When you get your child ready to learn and teachers teach your child what he has to learn your child is getting the support you are guaranteeing the your child is on the way to the future you both have dreamed of.


Aug 25

How Does Your Child Learn? And Why You Need To Know.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power


I wonder?

I wonder?

Children learn in many different ways, teachers teach in one or two ways. If your child learns the same way the teacher teaches all will be well. But it is more likely that the way your child learns does not match the way the teacher teaches.

The result ….

Loss of motivation, loss of confidence, low grades … well you know how it goes.

Any mismatch between how your child is taught and how he or she learns – and there is nearly always some kind of mismatch – makes learning much harder for your child than it should be.

You need to know how your child learns best so that you can help her adapt how she is being taught to the way she learns. You need to help her learn simple strategies that make learning quick and easy.

Do you know how your child learns best?

My Good to Great Pathfinder program helps you discover how your child learns and  what you can do to make school make sense.


This is the first step in Making School Make Sense – the 2nd way you can help your child succeed in school.


My Good to Great Pathfinder Program not only helps you discover your child’s unique learning style it also gives you strategies that help you make a difference in your child’s learning life.


Let’s talk!

Aug 11

What to say so your child will learn

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power

Don't stop your child learning.

Don’t stop your child learning.

Did you know that everything you say to your child either helps or hinders their learning?


Imagine the situation where you are trying to get your child to bed – you can either say “Go to bed now!”  or “It is time to go to bed so that you are ready for school in the morning”.

The first stops the child from thinking about why he or she should go to bed.  The second helps the child understand the cause an effect between bedtime and going to school.

It works with older students too.

Rather than say “Time to get your homework done!” try   ” If you start doing homework now you will be finished in time to watch your favourite TV show”.

You may not think that what you say to your child is important, that he or she should just listen and do what they are told.  But why waste the opportunity to help your child develop the thinking kills that lead to success?

It is really important that  you say the right things, the things that encourage your child to use his or her brain, the things that help your child develop the skills that lead to learning.

What are you going to say to YOUR child today?


Aug 04

How to make learning fun – one easy step at a time.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power , Provide extra support

When learning is fun!

When learning is fun!

Imagine  your child loving learning, happy to do homework, never again struggling in class!

You can make this happen.

The secret?  Understanding that children need to learn how to learn.  Children need a set of basic skills that they can use in any learning situation.  Without these skills your child will  never love learning, never be happy to do homework, and will struggle in class.

And the wonder is that it is so easy to help your child develop the skills he or she needs.

One way is to Share  (This is one of the 3S’s that lead to learning success)

When you want your child to do something never assume that he or she knows what to do and how to do it.  Her is a simple three step process that you can use everyday to help your child develop the skills that lead to learning.

‘I, We, You’

( suppose that you want your child to make his bed)

1.  ‘I”

You do the task while your child is watching – and you talk about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

2.  ‘We’

Now you do the task together with you helping your child do the task well.   You need to unmake the bed before you do this.

3. ‘You’

Now it is time for the child to do the task on his own – while you stand around and offer help ONLY WHEN ASKED!

If your child can do the task well you can now assume that he is ready to take the responsibility of getting the job done.  No more excuses.

And don’t forget to congratulate him on learning a new skill!



Jul 28

The simple answer to the question ‘How can I help my child learn?”

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power

A magic trick that any parent can do

A magic trick that any parent can do

There is one question that parents always ask -“What’s the best way to help my child learn?”

They expect me to tell them about tutoring programs and textbooks that they can buy or how to help with homework.

Well, I have a simple answer, but it is not the answer most parents expect.  And, despite it being the most effective way to help kids learn, many parents are just not ready to hear about it.

Are you ready to learn what it is and then to do the work that makes it happen?

The one most effective, efficient, easy to do, guaranteed to succeed, powerful, proven strategy that leads to your child’s success is SHOWING your child how to learn.

And it is so easy to do.

All you have to do is show your child that you are learning and let them see the process you are going through.

Want your child to learn to read?  Let him see you reading.

Want your child to love math?  Let her see you enjoying math problems

Want your child to get good grades?  Let him see the effort you put into doing good work.

Does adopting this strategy mean that you have to change things? Well it might, depending on what you are showing your child right now.

But what is  a little lifestyle change when, for no money, little time, no retraining and hardly any effort you can guarantee – yes GUARANTEE – that you can turn your child into a better learner.

Now that is a tip worth having!



Jul 21

Does your child know how to learn? Three ways you can make this happen

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power

Portrait of a happy girl showing her school report

Does your child know how to learn?

Are you sure?

The #1 reason children underachieve in school is because they are missing one or more to the basic skills that help them know how to learn.

Whether you know it or not, you are always either helping or preventing your child from learning these basic skills.  You are always influencing how well your child learns.


Well, not so fast.  It is really easy to help children develop the skills they need to become good learners and do well in school.  All you need to remember are the 3S’s

#1.    Show 

Your child loves you and wants to be like you. Show your child how to learn by learning something yourself and talking about it to your child.


#2   Share

Sharing tasks is a great way of helping your child learn how to do them, helping them learn the skills they need to get tasks finished.


#3   Say

Be careful how you speak to your child, ask the kind of questions that make him or her think and use the skills that lead to learning


3 simple ways you can help your child learn how to learn and develop a  lifelong love of learning.

Now that wasn’t too scary was it?

If you want to know more sign up for my free report and get weekly tips on how to help your child succeed in school.



Jul 15

What a difference a day makes!

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power , Provide extra support , Work with the school


I can read now!

I can read now!

Do you remember this song….?

“What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain”

The song is about falling in love but 24 hours (or only a little longer) can  change rain into sunshine and flowers for children who are struggling to learn.

Jenny is a bright Grade 3 student but she was only reading at Grade 1 level.  She hated reading.  She did whatever she could to avoid it.

No child should hate reading – something had to be done.

An assessment of her learning  showed she was a visual learner who had been taught to read using phonics and was trying to  read by sounding out every word.    No wonder reading was difficult for her.

When she was introduced to a visual approach to learning to read – (looking at the words and the shapes they made) reading began to make sense.

Jenny soared.  In three weeks her reading level went from  Grade 1 to Grade 3!!

Ok – this didn’t happen in 24 hours – but increasing reading level by two whole grades in just three weeks, well, that is even more impressive than falling in love.

I can’t help you fall in love but I can help you make a difference in your child’s learning life.




Jun 25

3 Stress Free Ways to Stop the ‘Summer Slide’.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power , Provide extra support


Avoid the summer slide!

School is out.  Summer is here.

Everyone want to have a good time and that does not include having to do schoolwork!

But all teachers know about the ‘summer slide’ – kids can lose up to three months of learning during the summer.

All because students ‘switch off’ from school type work.

Some students go to summer school. This can help keep them in a ‘thinking mode’.  But what about this kids who don’t go to summer school? What can parents do to help them avoid the summer slide?

I have read several articles that tell parents to buy workbooks and to set a work schedule for their child.  This seems like a lot of work and I doubt parents have the time or energy to follow through.

So here are three simple, practical, ways you can help you child avoid the summer slide and be ready for the new school year.

1.  Talk to your child.

Summer is the perfect time to help your child learn more about the world.  Talk about what is in the news,  what TV programs she likes, what activities he wants to do and why.

Use this time to really get to know more about your child and to help him or her get to know more about you.

2. Expand experiences

Can you take your child to your work for a day?   Can you help him or her get a part-time job?  Set up a schedule for household chores – after negotiating which your child will do and which you will do – and expect him or her to be responsible enough to do them.  Talk about your school life, what you enjoyed and what you didn’t.  Ask about your child’s school life, talk about feelings rather than results.

Summer is the perfect time to learn something new, and to keep the brain active.

3.  Schedule time to be together

Can you set up a family games night once a week?  How about a time to go for a walk or even a time to sit together and read?

Your child needs to know that you are there to support him when he needs help – making time to be together is one of the best ways to do this.



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