Category Archives for "home page"

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
Sep 12

The Ultimate Guide to a Successful ‘Meet the Teacher’ Experience.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Parent Power , Work with the school

OK, so you have survived the first week of back to school now it is time to make the ‘Meet the Teacher’ meeting a success.

This meeting is normal set up during the first few weeks of the school year and, as the name suggests, it is a time for you to meet the person your child will be working with during the following 40 weeks or so.

It is an important meeting.   But it is easy to get wrong.  It is easy to come away from the meeting wondering what it was all about, why you were there, and what good it did you or your child.

And that is a shame, because, properly handled, this meeting helps set up your relationship with your child’s teacher and provides you with an understanding of what your child will be doing during the year.  So here is my guide to making the most of the ‘Meet the Teacher’ event that your school will be having.


 Notice the title – it is MEET the teacher, not GRILL the teacher!

You are there to get to know each other, to put names to faces, to look at the classroom and to get a feel for the kind of situation your child will be in.

You are not there to ask detailed questions about child’s learning or about what work your child should be doing at home, you are there to lay the groundwork to an important relationship – the relationship between home and school.

Put a face to a name.

You would be surprised at how difficult it can be for a teacher to match a child to a parent.  You might think that your child looks exactly like you but the teacher might not see the resemblance.  I have known – and I have been guilty of doing this myself – teachers go through a whole parent meeting and have no idea which child they are talking about.  This is especially true in High School where teachers meet hundreds of students and can find it very difficult to put a face to a name.

Take a recent photograph of your child with you when you go to this meeting.  Hold it in your hand as you talk to the teacher.  That way you can be sure that she is talking about YOUR child!

Be on time

I know, this can be difficult but teachers have many parents to talk to and won’t be able to wait if you are not there when you are expected to be there.  If you can’t make it, phone the school and leave a message.  You may even ask for another time to meet the teacher.

Ask about expectations around homework.

This is a biggie and getting this information can save you a whole lot of heartache later in the year.  Does the teacher give homework? How much homework does she expect a child to do each night? What kind of homework will your child be getting?  If your child is expected to do project work how are you exceed to help?  What happens if homework is not handed in on time?  Will homework grades count for the final grades? and, most importantly, Can you contact the teacher if you have concerns about your child and homework?

This leads into the next item on your agenda…

Confirm contact details.

The school office will have details of your address and phone number but you might also want the teacher to let you know if your child is having difficulty in class.  Tell the teacher that you would be happy to have this information and give her your phone number or another way she can contact you.

By doing this you have opened the door to the communication process and invited the teacher to step in and help you help your child.

If these details change make sure the teacher knows about the changes.

Ask what your commitment to your child’s education should be.

Does the teacher want you to help with homework? Check homework? Report problems? Provide extra support? or is he happy to let you decide what to do?   Perhaps you are expected to read with your child every night, or help him or her learn spellings for a test, or provide materials for project work.  You need to know.

Let the teacher know what you think her commitment should be.

Ask her to keep you informed about your child’s progress.  Report cards are not the best way to make this happen – perhaps she sends out monthly newsletters?  Remind the teacher that you will always be happy yo hear from her and that if there are any problems in class you want to be the first to know about them.

Then say ‘Thanks, nice to meet you!” and leave.


This is a lot to get through in the few minutes you will have to meet your child’s new teacher but if you approach these meetings with an agenda in mind you will get the information you need and the teacher will be grateful that you are using the time well.

Teachers can be scary but we are not all the ‘creatures’ some of you think we are!


It's that time again!
Aug 22

The Truth About Back to School

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Parent Power , Work with the school

It’s that time again and you are probably being bombarded with advice about how to prepare for the big day.  Most of the advice is good – so I don’t need to repeat it here – but, just for a moment let us go beyond all the information and advice and take a look at ‘Back to School’ from different perspectives.

  1. Back to School – Teachers

Your child’s first day of school is the last day of a teacher’s preparation for the new school year.  Most teachers have been in school for a week already, getting books prepared, sorting out files, having meeting, making sure resources are in place and working out how to fit students into the right class.

For Vice Principal the time has been even more hectic.  They have the responsibility of working out the timetabling for the whole school.  No easy job.  So the first day of Back to School for your child is something of a relief for teachers.  Preparations are complete and the year can begin.

Teachers are ready.

2.  Back to School – Students

Most students are very happy to be back in school.  They may complain and they may be nervous about the upcoming school year but like the rhythm and regularity of the school days.  They look forward to seeing new friends and reconnecting with old ones.  But Back to School time is also a time of great uncertainty.  What will the new teacher be like? Will I be able to do the work? What if I hate my new classroom?  What homework will I get and will I be able to do it? – all questions that are in the back of your child’s mind right now. Even the coolest kid harbours some trepidation about the new school year.

Students are nervous.

3. Back to School – Parents

So where do you fit into this picture?  You have probably been busy rushing round getting last minute supplies, being hassled by your child for the latest gear that he  cannot live without and been getting ready for the new routine that the school year brings.  All busy work.

But deep in your heart you are worried about the new school year.  Will he pass or fail?  Will she be happy or miserable?  Will the teacher understand your child’s needs?  Will your child make the right friends? and What can you do to make this year the best ever for your child?

Parents are worried.

The truth, the whole truth, about Back to School is that however much teachers prepare, however much students question, and however much you worry none of it really matters in the end.

Preparation is necessary but not sufficient.

After the first week or two all the teacher preparation will have changed, the student questions will have been answered BUT  your worries will not have gone away.

The only way to avoid worrying about your child’s success is know what you can do to ensure that it happens.  You need answers to your questions.  You need to know who to ask and how to ask them.

The truth about Back to School is that only you can ensure your child has a good year. Only you have the power to make good things happen for your child.

Scary, but as my mother said “It’s easy when you know how”.

back to School preparation is not enough. If you want your child to have a great year you need to know how to provide support that makes a difference.


Aug 15

Ready for school?: 5 ways you can ensure your child’s success.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Make School Make Sense

So, are you ready?  Is your child ready for the new school year?  Oh, I am not asking about new clothes or  school supplies or having a few last days of family fun. I am asking about something much more important than those back to school preparations, I am asking if you are ready to make the next school year the best your child has ever had.  I am asking if you are ready to help your child enjoy learning, reach his or her full learning potential and get great grades.

So, are you ready to help your child have a year full of success and happiness?

Let’s be honest.  Most parents don’t even understand what I am asking.  Why should they be the ones responsible for their child’s success?  Surely that is the job of the teacher?

Yes, teachers have to do a good job of teaching your child but research states that up to 80% of your child’s success in school depends on you – on how you support your child at home!  And providing back to school support goes way beyond buying school supplies and new clothes.

Here are four ways you can guarantee your child has a wonderful school year.

  1. Set high expectations.

Parent’s expectations are the main indicator of school success.  Having high expectations doesn’t mean that you have to expect your child to get A’s on every assignment. here is what you need to expect –

That your child will do his best and that the school will provide all the help your child needs.

You may be disappointed at times.  Your child may not always do his or her best work and the school may not provide all your child needs.  But if you start off the year with these expectations you will be ready to act when things go wrong.

2.  Make sure your child knows how to learn.

Too often teachers, and parents, expect children to learn when they don’t have the skills they need to be able to learn.  Kids struggle to do the best they can but learning becomes hard work and many children call it quits.  They start to think that they are stupid and begin to lose confidence in their abilities. If you are concerned that your bright child is lazy or just not trying it may be because he doesn’t have the skills that allow him to learn.

3.  Work with the school.

You don’t have to volunteer to help with every school outing but you do need to keep in touch with your child’s teacher so that you know what is happening in class and what the expectations are around your child’s learning. (There is that word – expectations – again!).

Then, if things are not going well, if you think your child is not learning what he is expected to learn, you can inform the teacher and ask for extra help for your child.  Teachers want all children to do well but it can be difficult to keep track of every student.

5.   Provide extra support when your child needs it.

Schools can’t do it all!  Sometimes students need extra support that the school cannot provide.  If your child needs extra support to master a subject or just to catch up on missed lessons you may need to hire a tutor.  The key to hiring the best tutor for your child is to find one that teaches the way your child likes to learn.  When you know how your child likes to learn you can hire a tutor that is going to help your child learn quickly and easily.  You save money and your child feels good about learning.

So, are you ready?  Do you expect your child to do well, know that he has the skills he needs to learn, are prepared to work with the school and to provide extra support the necessary?  If you answered ‘yes’ to all these then I congratulate you – you are ready to give your child the best year of his school life.  If you weren’t able to answer ‘yes’ to them all then you have some work to do.  You have to discover more about how your child learns and how you can provide support that works.

If you want to be able to say ‘yes’ to being ready for the new school year I am ready to give you any help and advice you may need.  Schedule a call and we can talk!




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.


Mar 06

What you can do when your child doesn’t want to go to school.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page

Most children are reluctant to go to school at some time or other, but if your child is constantly unhappy about going to school you need to do something to change the situation.

First, let’s look at some of the reasons children do not want to go to school –

  • Is your child being bullied? How would you know?
  • Has there been changes in the family that are causing your child to be concerned?
  • Is your child depressed?
  • Has there been a falling out amongst friends?
  • Is the work too hard?
  • Does she hate her new teacher?
  • Is she genuinely ill?

These are some of the most obvious reasons why a child is reluctant to go to school, but there are probably many others.

Chances are that you have tried cajoling and reasoning and maybe even threatening to get your child to school. But this situation is making you and your child very unhappy and frustrated. You need to discover the cause of the problem and then work out the solution.

I suggest this three step plan –

 How to discover the cause of the problem.

It may be no good asking your child why she doesn’t want to go to school, she may not even be aware of the issues.

Start by thinking of all the reasons she might be unhappy about school. The list above should help. Then gently go through the list and ask her to comment on which of the reasons apply to her. You may get some reaction that helps you understand when you are on the right path. If this doesn’t help you discover the cause go to the next step.

Talk about your feelings about your schooling

Talk about a time when you were reluctant to go to school, make it up if you have to but try to keep it honest. If your child understands that she is not alone in her feelings she might be more ready to open up at talk about her concerns.

 If all else fails – talk to the teacher.

The teacher may be surprised when you explain what is happening with your child, she may not have noticed anything to be concerned about. But you could ask the teacher to keep an eye out for any instances that could be causing the problem, or you could ask the teacher to ask your child about her feelings. A word of warning here – only do this if you know the teacher well and trust her to support your child through this situation.

This process might take some time but it is worth it to discover exactly why your child is unhappy in school.

I worked with parents whose son was often ill in the morning and cried when he had to go to school. He was a bright boy, doing well in class, and his parents were at their wits end to know how to help him. I learned that he hated math, he felt that he couldn’t do the work he was given even though he was getting good grades.

His parents and I were not sure where this fear came from but we knew we had to do something about it.

I directed the parents to a tutor I knew who was very good at giving praise, and after having discussed the situation with her, the parents paid for a few math tutoring sessions for their son. It didn’t take long before he felt better about his math skills and the headaches and crying stopped. He became happy to go to school and, if the situation ever occurred again, his parents knew what to do about it.

Children should be happy to go to school. If your child is reluctant to go to school each morning you need to find out why. You need to treat the cause of the problem, not just try to treat the symptoms.






Mar 06

How to chose the best tutoring program for your child.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page

Parents often ask me which educational tutoring program they should choose to send their child to. They have heard good and bad things about most of the educational programs out there and want to know which one will work best for their child.

I always reply, “It depends!”

I know that this is not a very helpful answer but it is the best I can do. You see any of the educational programs that parents choose have the ability to help children learn, the problem is they might not help your child learn.

Tutoring services are based on specific educational philosophies. One famous program is set up on the belief that children learn through practice and that given enough practice and small enough steps all children can master certain skills. Others are based on beliefs about the size of learning groups or formal, structured approaches to learning. And they all work. Rather, they all work for some children: none of them work for all children.

Why do they work for some children and not others? It depends (there I go again!) on how children like to learn. Some children learn best in a structured, formal setting while others prefer a more liberal free-ranging approach. Some children like to absorb information step-by-step and some prefer to create learning out of a mess of information and ideas. Some children like to learn by themselves, others learn best in groups where they can chat and share their thoughts.

Children learn in many ways and unless the tutoring service you are paying for uses a way of helping children learn that matches your child’s you are wasting your money. That is why I say, “It depends!”

So, in order to choose the tutoring program that will fit your child’s learning needs first work out how your child likes to learn, then find a program that teaches that way. You will be glad that you did. Your child will be a happy learner and you will see immediate results!

Want to know how your child learns? The quickest way is to ask them. Ask your child what he likes and dislikes about lessons in school and find out if he likes to learn alone, in a group, by looking, by listening or by any of the many other ways children prefer to learn.  You could also take my free diagnostic learning assessment at – you will get the results within minutes.

Then check out how the educational tutoring services teach their students. If there is no match don’t waste your money no matter how good a reputation the company has. Believe me, I have worked with many parents who have spent a lot of money sending their children to tutoring services with little result. Not because the tutoring service was not good, most are excellent at what they do, but because the way the child was taught did not match the way he or she liked to learn.





Mar 06

Top five reasons your child hates homework and what you can do about it

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Parent Power

We have all been there. A child has homework to do and really does not want to do it. But I never realized how serious this situation could become until I saw results of an online survey about parents and homework.

The survey indicated that:

  • 10% had no problem getting their child to do their homework
  • 18% had to remind their child to do their homework
  • 48% said that homework was a daily family battle
  • 16% reported that homework often caused a meltdown
  • 8% said that their child hated school because of homework!

These numbers are astonishing. What is going on here? Homework is supposed to be helping not making things worse! Homework should never, NEVER, cause issues with your relationship with your child. Your relationship with your child is far too precious to be threatened by you trying to get your child to do homework.

Now I know it can be difficult. I have worked with families where mothers (it is usually mothers) have been at their wits end trying to find ways to get their children to do homework. The anger and frustration caused by this situation spills out into all aspects of family life and causes all kinds of problems. I have seen parents threaten children with loss of privileges in an effort to get their child to do their homework. I have had mothers in tears on the phone because they don’t know what to do, and even know of mothers who do their child’s work for them rather than having to face the frustration and anger of getting their child to do the work!

What are you to do if your child hates homework? Unfortunately, that answer is not straightforward. It depends on the reasons WHY your child does not want to do homework. Here are five reasons children hate homework and what you can do about them.

1. Doing homework takes time, time that your child would rather spend doing fun things.
Solution – Set a limit to the time your child spends doing homework and stick to it. If your child knows he can stop working at a certain time he will be more motivated to do the work.

2. The homework is too hard and your child does not know how to do it.
Solution. Tell your child’s teacher that your child couldn’t do it so that the teacher can review the work.

3. Homework is ‘boring’.
Solution. This is a difficult because homework often is boring. Again, setting time limits AND talking to your child’s teacher about the issue may help. Children use the word ‘boring’ to cover a variety of situations, you might need to check out why your child thinks homework is boring.

4. Homework is left to the last minute.
Solution. Help your child keep a homework agenda complete with dates for when work has to be handed in. Mark dates on a calendar and work backwards to decide when your child should to start work. Then let your child be responsible for getting the work done on time. Don’t let your child let his problem (no time) become your problem.

5. Books needed for homework are left at school.
Solution. If this happens often it is a sure sign that your child is struggling to learn and feels that the homework is too hard. Talk to your child’s teacher and try to set up a system to remind your child what books are needed but also tell the teacher if your child is struggling with homework.

So, my advice about homework is this-
The amount of benefit your child gets from finishing a homework assignment NEVER outweighs the importance of your relationship with your child. The amount of time you spend cajoling and coercing your child to do their work is counterproductive. There is no way that homework should create tension in a family, and definitely not the kind of meltdowns the survey suggests.
Stop letting your child’s homework cause family problems, it is just not worth it.