My friend laughs at me whenever we walk into a restaurant because the waiter will walk over, smile, and ask, “Same same?”
I tend to go to the same restaurants and order the same thing.
As I tell my friend, “Why fix what’s not broke?”
My productivity is predicated on consistency. If I break out of my routine then I’m much more likely to go completely off the rails and fly into a McDonalds.
Here are some tips to help us be consistently consistent…
If I was able to hire a bunch of consultants to generate a pie chart of my most successful days then they would almost certainty start with upholding my morning routine.
My current morning routine: wake up, meditate 5 minutes, read, get out of bed, step out onto balcony where I brush my teeth, splash water on my face, stretch, 25 pushups, 50 jumping jacks, get ready and go!
It’s not super optimized, but it’s effective in getting me started in a state of controlled focus.
“When I did make the decision to focus on acting, I think my mother was just relieved for me that I had finally started to focus.” — Daniel Day Lewis
What do you want? Build a system around it: routines, tasks, people, rewards, consequences, events, tools.
What’s the best thing you can do right now? Write it down and then focus on completing it — one todo at a time.
It’s easier to be consistent when our behavior isn’t erratic and distracted.
To have consistent behavior, strive for consistent thinking.
This can be difficult for someone like me who fancies himself an essayist because I need to constantly come up with new topics to philosophize about.
One month I’m in an existential spiral as I ponder the meaning of life and the next I’m ready to live in a barrel by the river.
In the end though, rereading empowering thoughts helps set the mental foundation for my day so that wherever my mind wanders it’ll be grounded in principle.
While you’re walking toward your destination you may experience self-doubt.
Self-doubt is the ultimate consistency destroyer. Imagine self-doubt as a monster…
The self-doubt monster dwells in the shadows.
Knowledge eliminates the shadows, but there isn’t enough time, or even capability, to eliminate all the shadows in our mind.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” — Winston Churchill
We must trek on toward our outcome goal (i.e. 1K YouTube Subscribers) and only after we’ve completed a sufficient number of process goals (i.e. Publish a Video 5 Weeks in a Row) should we confront the self-doubt monster.
Write down: I will not dwell on self-doubt until after I’ve completed all my process goals (write down your process goals).
If after you’ve completed your process goals you still haven’t progressed toward your outcome goal then it might be wise to explore the shadows to see what new path might be worth taking.
This is a philosophical point I’ve struggled with.
The obvious answer is “Of course you should do things even when you don’t feel like it”, but I think this mentality is only useful for short-term behavior.
Ultimately, we shouldn’t be forcing ourselves out of bed to do the things we feel we’ve “got” to do.
I think Steve Jobs offers a useful strategy to balance consistency with happiness…
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Be consistent even when you don’t feel like it because you’ll often be grateful and happy that you pushed through the momentary discomfort.
“Wake up determined. Go to bed satisfied.” — Dwayne Johnson
But if you find you’re still unsatisfied despite being consistent day-after-day then try being consistent at something else.
We aren’t what we do from time-to-time. We are what we do day-in-and-day-out.
If you don’t feel like running, remind yourself, “I am a runner and runners run!”
“We are what we repeatedly do.” — Aristotle
If you don’t feel like pimping, remind yourself, “Pimping ain’t easy, but Daddy ain’t playing no games.”
Consistency is built on hope.
In other words, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Albert Einstein defines this as insanity.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” — Albert Einstein
I define this as success.
But if I was to be more accurate, I’d say we should do the same thing over and over again while improving upon it.
My most recent video How to Have Mother Teresa Compassion didn’t perform as well as I’d like.
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” — Mother Teresa
I could then throw in the camera or I could convince myself “It’s always greener on the other side” by making my next video that much better.
I tell myself, “Okay, that didn’t do as well as I’d like, but here is XYZ reasons why my next video will perform better.”
XYZ in this case was that I bought a new microphone and backdrop. Improvements don’t have to be as costly as that because part of the beauty of consistency is that it permits you to be incremental in your progress.
When you have those days that feel like “same, same” reflect on how far you’ve come and how far you’ll go because you’ll then see how different your life is indeed.
Thanks for reading! Depending on the response, I’ll probably do a few more articles around the topic of consistency by going deeper on specific tips, hurdles, and role models.
Since I wasn’t being consistent enough in my work [BONUS TIP] I’m making a public commitment to you… I recently started a newsletter so you can expect to get that EVERY MON @ 8AM EST
When you are applying for an entry-level position, a typical job interview question is for the interviewer to ask you about your grades and how they represent you as a person. It can either be tricky or easy to answer depending, of course, on the grades you received.
The Straight-A Student
If you’re an A student, your answer will be easy, but you should also express your skills and varied experience outside of the classroom. For example, you don’t want your potential employer to think you’re book-smart only, lacking social fluency or the ability to interact and communicate well with others.
Further, you’ll want to emphasize any work experience you’ve gained during your college career, including internships, volunteer work, and part-time jobs. These show prospective employers that you know how to function in a workplace as well as in a classroom.
The Average and Below Average Student
If your grades were only average, or worse, you have some reframing to do. The good news is that no college career is summed up entirely with grades. In fact, as far as employers are concerned, your grades won’t matter at all once you have a few years of experience under your belt. Your goal right now is to show the hiring manager your skills and experience outside of your academic achievements.
Regardless of your grades, it’s most important to frame your answer in a way that conveys that you are an intelligent, diligent, and well-rounded worker who would add value to the company. Preparation is key to pulling this off. The last thing you want is to seem uncomfortable when you’re telling your story.
These sample interview answers will help you choose the best approach. Edit them to fit your personal experiences and background.
Published: Tues., February 21, 2017
Graduate Teaching Assistants are often involved in grading students’ work. At this point in the semester, you may find yourself with many essays, assignments, projects, or tests to grade. Planning your grading process will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the amount of grading to be done. Additionally, grading fairly and consistently will help you both provide useful feedback to your students and will help minimize student grading complaints.
Fair and Consistent Grading
Effective grading provides accurate information to students about their performance and also help them understand what they can improve on. In addition to providing information on their performance, grading should be fair and consistent. This means that all work should be assessed based on defined criteria and that students should be treated equally regardless of whether you looked at their work first, last, or after a long day.
Using Grading Rubrics
Grading rubrics are basically grids which identify the criteria students’ work will be assessed on and the relative weight of each criterion, but also describe levels of performance or success. Rubrics will, therefore, vary based on the assignment or class. Rubrics are beneficial because they provide students clear information about their performance and how they were assessed. They also allow you to more easily comment on student work because you can mark or describe a performance by selecting a category, rather than writing a lengthy comment. If you have to create your own rubrics, ask other TAs or faculty members if they have sample rubrics you could use as a model. More information on developing your own grading rubrics is available here, including a sample rubric.
One easy way to grade fairly is to grade student work anonymously. If students turn work in with a title page, flip that page to the back so you only see the essay itself. Alternatively, you could also ask students to use their student ID number rather than their name. This will prevent you from allowing any opinions you may already have about that student, whether positive or negative, from influencing your assessment of their work. It may not always be possible grade all work anonymously, but it can be useful, especially for major assignments.
Grade in Multiple Sessions
When you have a lot of grading to do, it can often help to grade in multiple sessions rather than all at once. This may seem counter-intuitive if you are trying to grade work quickly, but breaking up your grading will help you make use of smaller amounts of available time and will also prevent you from grading some assignments more easily or more harshly because you are tired after grading all day. If you are using a standardized rubric, it should not matter whether you grade all those assignment at one time. After spending a long time grading, you can easily find yourself becoming more frustrated with later assignments when they make the same mistakes the assignments you graded earlier did.
Grading well can take time. When you have a large number of papers or tests to grade, learning how to grade efficiently is critical. Even when trying to grade more efficiently, try to do so in a way that will not significantly sacrifice the quality or usefulness of the feedback students receive on their work.
Focus on a Few Major Corrections
You may not need to provide feedback on all aspects of their work. Students may be more likely to respond to feedback or comments if their assignments are not covered with feedback and red ink, but instead their feedback focuses on a few major issues they should work on to improve their work. If you are only providing a few major comments, make sure that you give specific and concrete feedback. Noting that a sentence is “confusing” is not particularly helpful. A more useful piece of feedback might be to say “This sentence is unclear–it would help if you defined behaviorism first”.
If you grade electronically, you can keep a bank of common comments or feedback. For instance, if you find that you commonly tell students that they are not citing their research correctly or that they make certain grammatical mistakes, it may be worth keeping a copy of comments for those issues so that you can more easily provide that feedback on their work. You do not need to write out the same comment every single time. If you grade electronically, you can easily copy and paste comments onto the digital draft of their work.
Correct common mistakes once
Sometimes when grading papers or essays you may find that students make the same mistake repeatedly. For example, if a student misuses punctuation repeatedly in their work, don’t worry about correcting every instance in the paper. Consider correcting it once, possibly circling a few other instances, and providing a comment explaining the issue and what they should do to improve their work.
Make use of Canvas resources
Canvas, the learning management system used at UNL, has a number of functions that might help expedite your grading. In particular, Canvas’ SpeedGrader function will help you respond to and annotate student work and compute grades quicker. This function allows you to use your own rubric and and provide comments on the submitted work as you review it.
Other Grading Tips
Explain Your Grading Process Beforehand
Share your rubrics or grading process with students before they complete the assignment. If students know how they will be assessed before they complete the assignment, they are less likely to dispute the result even if they dislike their grade. Having well-established criteria will also provide support for their grade should your students wish to speak with you about it after you return their work.
Return Graded Assignments in a Timely Manner
It can be frustrating to wait too long to receive feedback or to know your grade. For that reason, aim to return graded work within a reasonable amount of time. For simple homework assignments, this may mean within a few days or by the next class session. For longer papers or tests, it may take a week or two to fully grade, depending on the length of the assignment. Be honest with students and try to return work as quickly as possible, especially if their performance on that assignment might affect future assignments.
Maintain Accurate Records
Always keep accurate and complete grade records. If students dispute grades, if will be useful to have your own records to refer to. Conversely, if a student asks for a recommendation, their prior grades might help you figure out how to describe their performance.
Throughout my career, I’ve strived to stay consistent about consistency. Even the best business plans will fail without a dedication to consistency.
If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. If I say I’m going to be somewhere, I’m there. If I initiate a new business process or initiative, I follow through. In my experience, consistency is a must as you build and grow your business.
1. Consistency allows for measurement.
Until you have tried something new for a period of time and in a consistent manner, you can’t decide if it works or not. How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently?
I typically give new initiatives, processes, and organizational structures at least six months before judging them a success or failure. It’s often minor tweaking instead of major overhauls that make the difference.
2. Consistency creates accountability.
I ask my employees to be accountable for their deliverables and goals. They should expect the same in return from my leadership. I put a priority on making time for and being available to my team. I work to establish consistent and recurring meetings when a project or aspect of the business requires attention.
The simple fact that there is a set time to report on progress is often the catalyst that moves an initiative along to a successful end.
3. Consistency establishes your reputation.
Business growth requires a track record of success. You can’t establish a track record if you are constantly shifting gears or trying new tactics. Many efforts fail before they get to the finish line, but not because the tactic was flawed or goals weren’t clear. The problem is often that the team simply didn’t stay the course to achieve the objective.
4. Consistency makes you relevant.
Your employees and your customers need a predictable flow of information from you. All too often I see businesses, both small and large, adopt a campaign or initiative only to end it before it gains traction. It’s effective to run many advertisements, numerous blog entries, weekly newsletters, or continual process changes throughout a year.
5. Consistency maintains your message.
Your team pays as much or more attention to what you do as to what you say. Consistency in your leadership serves as a model for how they will behave. If you treat a meeting as unimportant, don’t be surprised when you find they are doing the same to fellow teammates or even customers.
When something doesn’t work, I look back at what happened and ask some serious questions. Did we shift gears too quickly? Did part of the team not deliver on a commitment? Or was the expected outcome off base from the start? Most of the time, the reason tracks back to lack of consistency.
You can breathe a sigh of relief now! Here’s expert advice on what to do when students act up and personalities clash.
PreKвЂ“K , 1вЂ“2 , 3вЂ“5 , 6вЂ“8 , 9вЂ“12
Effective teachers discipline with encouragement and kind words much more often than rebukes or reprimands. The goal is to help students feel good about themselves and their behavior in the classroom.
Inevitably, though, misbehavior happens. When it does, keep the collected wisdom of experienced teachers in mind:
Take a deep breath and try to remain calm. It’s natural to be overcome with frustration, resentment, and anger. But when you are, you become less rational, and your agitation becomes contagious.
Try to set a positive tone and model an appropriate response, even if it means you must take a few moments to compose yourself. Acknowledge that you need time to think, time to respond. “This is upsetting me, too, but I need a few minutes to think before we talk about it.”
Make sure students understand that it’s their misbehavior you dislike, not them. “I like you, Jason. Right now, your behavior is unacceptable.”
Give the misbehaving student a chance to respond positively by explaining not only what he or she is doing wrong, but also what he or she can do to correct it.
Never resort to blame or ridicule.
Avoid win-lose conflicts. Emphasize problem-solving instead of punishment.
Insist that students accept responsibility for their behavior.
Try to remain courteous in the face of hostility or anger. Showing students that you care about them and their problems will help you earn their respect and establish rapport.
Treat all students respectfully and politely. Be consistent in what you let them say and do. Be careful not to favor certain students.
Be an attentive listener. Encourage students to talk out feelings and concerns and help them clarify their comments by restating them.
Model the behavior you expect from your students. Are you as considerate of your students’ feelings as you want them to be of others? Are you as organized and on-task as you tell them to be? Are your classroom rules clear and easy for students to follow?
Specifically describe misbehavior and help students understand theconsequences of misbehavior. Very young children may even need your explanations modeled or acted out.
Be aware of cultural differences. For example, a student who stares at the floor while you speak to him or her would be viewed as defiant in some cultures and respectful in others.
Discourage cliques and other antisocial behavior. Offer cooperative activities to encourage group identity.
Teach students personal and social skills вЂ” communicating, listening, helping, and sharing, for example.
Teach students academic survival skills, such as paying attention, following directions, asking for help when they really need it, and volunteering to answer.
Avoid labeling students as “good” or “bad.” Instead describe their behavior as “positive,” “acceptable,” “disruptive,” or “unacceptable.”
Focus on recognizing and rewarding acceptable behavior more than punishing misbehavior.
Ignore or minimize minor problems instead of disrupting the class. A glance, a directed question, or your proximity may be enough to stop misbehavior.
Where reprimands are necessary, state them quickly and without disrupting the class.
When Personalities Clash . . .
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves actively disliking one of the students in our charge. The student may be rude, disrespectful, disruptive, obnoxious, or otherwise annoying. It’s just human nature; some personalities clash. But instead of feeling guilty about our feelings, we can take positive steps to improve them, says school psychologist and teacher Shelley Krapes. Here are some of her suggestions:
Try to understand where the behavior is coming from. Is the student distressed by a death, divorce, new baby, learning disability, or some other overwhelming experience? Speaking to the student’s parents or guardian may shed light on underlying causes and help you develop sympathy through understanding.
Help yourself manage negative feelings by reflecting on a past situation in your life where a similar conflict occurred. Discuss the situation with a friend or by writing your thoughts in a journal. Making and understanding these connections can help you let go of some of your current hostility or resentment.
Use positive strategies when dealing with the child. One such strategy is addressing specific behaviors with precise language that describes what needs to be done. In addition, try to seat the student near to you or a helpful student, praise the student liberally but sincerely, give the student choices to promote self-worth and feelings of control, be firm and consistent about your rules, and express displeasure with the student’s behavior without criticizing the student.
This article was adapted from Learning to Teach. Not Just for Beginners: The Essential Guide for All Teachers by Linda Shalaway (В© 2005, Scholastic).
Teachers often make the mistake of using “stop” messages rather than a “start” message. For example, “Stop talking. We need to get started.” A better message is “Get out your math books, and turn to page 44.” The effect is tremendous. It establishes a productive, businesslike tone for the lesson. The focus is not on the (negative) behavior, but the importance of the lesson.
Discipline is not about getting kids to do what you want them to do. That’s what dictators do, and you’re not a dictator—you’re an educator. Discipline is providing an environment in which positive teaching and positive learning can occur simultaneously. Discipline is not control from the outside; it’s order from within.
In conversations with teachers, I’ve discovered some practical and universal ideas that will help you achieve discipline in your classroom. Tap into the experience of these pros, and turn your classroom into a place where students learn and enjoy the process.
Greet students at the door. Interact with your students on a personal level every day. Greet them by name, interject a positive comment or observation, shake their hand, and welcome them into the classroom. This sets a positive tone for a lesson or for the day.
Get students focused before you begin any lesson. Be sure you have their attention before you begin. Don’t try to talk over students; you’ll be initiating a competition to see who can speak louder and also let them know it’s okay to talk while you are talking.
Use positive presence. Don’t park yourself in the front of the classroom. Move around the room continuously, and get in and around your students. Make frequent eye contact, and smile with students. Monitor students with your physical presence.
Model the behavioryou want students to produce. If you exhibit respectfulness, trust, enthusiasm, interest, and courtesy in your everyday dealings with students, they will return the favor in kind. Remember the saying, “Values are caught, not taught.”
Use low-profile intervention. When you see a student who is misbehaving, be sure your intervention is quiet, calm, and inconspicuous. Use the student’s name in part of your presentation, for example, “As an example, let’s measure Michael’s height in centimeters.” Michael, who has been whispering to his neighbor, hears his name and is drawn back into the lesson with no disruption of the class.
Send positive “I” messages. Thomas Gordon, creator of Teacher Effectiveness Training, under-scores the importance of “I” messages as a powerful way of humanizing the classroom and ensuring positive discipline. An I-message is composed of three parts:
Include a description of the student’s behavior. (“When you talk while I talk …”)
Relate the effect this behavior has on you, the teacher. (“I have to stop my teaching …”)
Let the student know the feeling it generates in you. (“which frustrates me”)
Verbal reprimands should be private, brief, and as immediate as possible. The more private a reprimand, the less likely you will be challenged. The more immediate the reprimand, the less likely the student will feel you condone her or his behavior. And keep reprimands brief. The more you talk, the more you distract from the lesson and the more you “reward” a student for inappropriate behavior.
Provide lots of positive feedback. Many veteran teachers will tell you, “10 percent of the students will give you 90 percent of your headaches!” But what about the 90 percent of those other students in your classroom? Don’t forget them; recognize their contributions and behavior:
Acknowledge positive student behavior when it is not expected.
Acknowledge compliance with requests.
Acknowledge hard work, kindness, and dependability.
Be consistent! Although this is easier said than done, the key to an effective discipline policy in any classroom is consistency. Make these principles part of your classroom action plan:
If you have a rule, enforce that rule.
Don’t hand out lots of warnings without following through on consequences. Lots of warnings tell students that you won’t enforce a rule.
Be fair and impartial. The rules are there for everyone, and that includes girls as well as boys, tall people and short people, students with freckles and students without freckles, and special needs kids as well as gifted kids.
It’s common for students at all grade levels to have trouble staying focused.
Whether it’s struggling to pay attention in class or having a tough time completing homework assignments, focus issues can have a big impact on student’s performance.
There can be many reasons children struggle to focus in school—from lack of comprehension to organization problems. The good news: with the proper goals and structure, it’s possible to help your child improve his or her focus and concentration.
Start helping your child focus better in school by following these 15 tips.
How To Help Your Child Focus (At School And At Home)
Help Your Child Focus His/Her Mind
Tip 1 – Do One Thing At A Time
For many students, multitasking is not their friend. Jumping between tasks causes any momentum to be lost. Train your child to tackle one thing at a time, rather than working on multiple things at once. This will help focus your child’s mind on what’s in front of him or her, rather than trying to think about too many different things at once.
Tip 2 – Break Things Down
Breaking down large assignments into smaller tasks can help improve focus by making things more manageable to tackle. Trying to take on too much at once is a recipe for boredom and distraction. By breaking things down, your child has a clear idea of what needs to be done and a sense of accomplishment once it’s completed. That accomplishment can be a big motivation-booster!
Tip 3 – Make A List Of Goals
Sometimes, it’s not that students can’t focus—it’s that they don’t know what to focus on. Before your child tackles any assignment or starts a study session, create a list of goals to give your child direction. For example, if your child is sitting down to a study session, his or her goals may be to review and create study notes for 1 chapter or topic.
Once your child has achieved these goals, take a break to allow your child to refresh his or her brain before tackling a new task.
Create (Organized) Work Environments
Tip 4 – Make A Dedicated Workspace
A disorganized space can be a major cause of distraction for your child. Make sure your child has a dedicated study space such as a desk or table to work on. This space should be clear of clutter and only include items that he or she needs for that study session (like his/her textbook, notebook, study tools, and note-taking supplies).
Tip 5 – Organize Notebooks And Notes
Organized notes are just as important as an organized study space. Help your child organize his or her notes so they are easy to find—colour-coded tabs or folders for each subject are a great option.
Make sure your child’s class notes are neat as well. Disorganized and incomplete notes can be a big concentration-killer for students. Learning how to take effective study notes ensures that your child can spend his or her time reviewing a topic, rather than searching for missing information.
Tip 6 – Learn How To Deal With Distractions
You won’t always be able to completely remove distractions—so teach your child how to deal with them, instead. Help your child brainstorm ways to refocus on the task at hand when he or she becomes distracted.
When your child is having trouble focusing, encourage him or her to get up and take a short break from what he or she is working on. For classroom distractions where getting up might not be an option, something as simple as your child closing his or her eyes and taking a few deep breaths can help refocus the mind.
Establish Consistent Routines
Tip 7 – Set Aside Time For Studying And Homework
Many children do best when they have a set routine they can stick to. Help your child create a daily schedule that includes time for homework, study breaks, and any other activities. Sticking to this schedule will help get your child into a routine where he or she is ready to sit down and focus on schoolwork.
Expert focus tip: Don’t forget to leave room for free time to allow your child’s brain to relax and recharge!
Tip 8 – Plan Study Breaks
Doing schoolwork for hours at a time without taking any breaks can quickly lead to a student’s focus dropping to zero. Plan frequent study breaks for your child to give him or her a chance to work off any extra energy, and help avoid becoming frustrated or overwhelmed.
Check out our blog post to learn how to take an effective study break.
Tip 9 – Stick To A Set Bedtime & Wake Up Routine
A well-rested mind is a focused mind. Help your child create and stick to a nightly routine so he or she gets to bed at a decent hour. A good sleep will help give your child’s mind a chance to absorb everything from the day and recharge for tomorrow.
Find Focus In Everyday Activities
Tip 10 – Play Focus Games And Activities To Build Attention
Jigsaw and crossword puzzles are a great activity to give your child’s brain a workout outside of the classroom. These activities require problem-solving and focus, both of which your child can use in the classroom and while doing schoolwork. (Plus, they’re a fun activity for your child!)
Tip 11 – Help Your Child Practise Mindfulness
Mindfulness involves focusing your awareness on the present moment while acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. When your child is becoming distracted, encourage him or her to take a 5 minute break to sit quietly and take a moment for him or herself. Have your child use this time to think about what is distracting him or her and how to refocus on the task at hand.
Tip 12 – Find Something Your Child Is Excited About
Lack of focus can come from a lack of engagement with the material. The solution: connect learning to something your child is interested in. For example, if your child is working on a book report but has trouble sitting down to actually read, try choosing a book on a topic he or she is interested in or wants to learn more about.
Talk About School Strategies
Tip 13 – Sit At The Front Of The Classroom
The classroom is full of distractions that can impact your child’s focus. Encourage your child to find a seat at the front of the classroom so he or she can focus on what the teacher is saying. If your child’s classroom has assigned seating, talk to the teacher about having him or her moved closer to the front if possible.
Tip 14 – Sit Farther Away From Distractions
Find out the common distractions your child struggles with when he or she is in class. It might be sitting near chatty friends or sitting beside a window. You can find out what may be distracting your child by asking his or her teacher, or talking to your child. Once you know what the biggest classroom distractions are, you and your child can work on a plan to overcome them.
Tip 15 – Keep An Organized School Workspace
Just like at home, your child’s school workspace should be organized and provide the study tools he or she needs. This includes desks, lockers, and even backpacks. Encourage your child to clean out his or her school workspaces often, properly organizing stray notes into their proper binder and throwing away old, unneeded items (like that half-eaten lunch from two weeks ago).
Start Finding Your Focus
With these tips, your child can start building his or her focus skills and get on track to success. And if he or she needs a bit of extra help, our study skills tutoring program can help!
All parents want their children to do well in school. Find tips on how to help kids get better grades, and whether or not a reward system is a good idea.
All parents want their children to do well in school. Whether our own school experiences were positive, neutral, or negative, we want our children to succeed in school and life and often are willing to do anything to support that goal. A question many parents wonder about, though, is how much support we should give our children to earn good grades. Do we help with homework? Do we encourage good grades with rewards?
How to Help Kids Get Better Grades
- Have high but realistic expectations. We should always hold high but realistic expectations for our children. Let your kids know that you think they are smart and capable and provide assistance as needed with homework and projects. But don’t go overboard with your expectations. Having high expectations is important, but having too high expectations can put unnecessary pressure on your child and that is not usually helpful.
- Provide homework help.Creating homework space and offering help is a good thing. Sometimes all that is needed with homework help is to listen while your child thinks through a project. Showing your interest in and of itself is helpful. You can also ask open-ended questions (like “What do you think?”) to help the process along, but not give the answers. Asking open-ended questions works even after the content of your child’s homework exceeds what you remember from school.
- Encouragement over praise. There has been a lot of discussion recently about praise vs. encouragement. Praise (“good job” and “well done”) is less helpful than descriptive phrases that offer encouragement (“These last few months you have been really consistent about doing your homework each night and it shows in these good grades.”). Specific encouragement as part of positive parenting is helpful because you are telling your child exactly what he did that was beneficial. He is more likely to remember your specific encouragement than a generic “good job.”
- Refrain from rewards if your child is intrinsically motivated. Most of us want our children to be intrinsically motivated – in other words, we want our children to want to earn good grades and to work without verbal recognition or tangible rewards. By the time they start school, many children are intrinsically motivated and our job is to help them maintain this quality. A powerful way to encourage a child’s motivation is for parents to model working towards a goal, whether it be cleaning the kitchen or completing a challenging project at work. If a child is intrinsically motivated and he or she is offered tangible rewards for good grades, that child will likely come to rely on the rewards and may, in the future, only get good grades if a reward is present. So rewards are not needed if your child is intrinsically motivated and may even have a negative outcome.
Tips on Offering Tangible Rewards for Good Grades
Offering tangible rewards (like money, a toy, new boots, etc.) tend to make your child dependent on the reward to achieve good grades in the future. Your positive words can mean more. However, if you are already offering rewards or are trying to build your child’s motivation, here are a few things to consider:
- You might try saying that this reward is only for this one time so that you don’t set a precedent for all good grades in the future. Your child may still say, “but last time, I got. ” but you know you are being true to your agreement.
- Be specific about your expectations when it comes to rewarding good grades. “If you get three A’s, you will get. “
- You must follow through on what you agreed to. If your child doesn’t earn the grades agreed to, she doesn’t get the reward.
- Children may compare their reward to their friend’s reward (“I only got $1, but Emily’s mother gave her $5 for good grades.”). Be prepared with a response such as, “Different families make different choices about rewards for good grades.”
An alternative to tangible rewards for good grades is that your child could earn time with you to do an activity of your child’s choice. Often this is the best reward possible. The challenge here is that earning good grades shouldn’t be the only time your child gets individual time to do a special activity with you. This should happen on an ongoing basis.
So how do you decide what is best when it comes to encouraging good grades and doing well in school? A few things to remember are:
- If your child is intrinsically motivated already, rewards are not necessary and may even have a negative impact.
- Save tangible rewards only if needed or for special circumstances and be clear that this is a one-time practice to bring their grades up.
- Consider offering special time with you as an alternative to a tangible reward.
- Consistently offer encouragement for your child’s efforts. This should happen regularly.
Each family has to decide what works best for them with reward systems. Your decisions may be different than your neighbors and others in your extended family. Taking time to think through how you want to handle this area will be important in the event that questions from your child or others arise.
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