Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.
Understanding Your Student: 3 Ways to Provide Social Support (At Home)
| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 11/18/20|
As a credentialed teacher and coach of 15 years, I would say that I always feel like I start anew when I meet a new student. All my assumptions awash with the sea and I have to focus on the student just as they are. It is always an exciting adventure because every student is different. Each brings with them different stories and emotions with all shades of personalities and complexities. However, I celebrate their personal, academic, and unique differences as I marvel at all phenomena in nature. If you look at nature, things are not judged by perfection or imperfection. It is judged by its beauty. In that vein, I enjoy reinventing and tailoring the process of learning for every student every day.
Let’s look at a few student portraits and my journey in discovering and understanding each student personally, academically, and uniquely.
A Great Conversationalist
An outgoing student who wore a lovely headband, the first thing I noticed about this student was she expressed herself incredibly well verbally, but she had a written expression challenge, so I took her strength to offset her weakness. Because the student can verbalize her ideas in such an extraordinary manner, I had her voice record her essay to get all her ideas out as a pre-writing strategy. Once she got her ideas out, crafting the final draft was quite smooth. The result was highly successful; she became a more confident writer with her newfound, writing game plan.
An Energetic Soul
Another student was an energetic soul with a great sense of humor. A voracious reader who devoured books like eating cupcakes, but he had processing issues and was unconfident about written expression. Since the student’s strong suit was reading, I provided background information to facilitate his writing assignments. The result was the student had a better time writing because I had recognized what was at the core of his learning style and designed the curriculum that revealed his innate skills while boosting inner confidence.
A Lyrical Mind
The third student was one who loved glitter and all things shiny. A lyrical mind, a bubbly thinker, who smiled at the sky at the thought of a cool word or a slick, fictional character. Initially, a writing anxiety grabbed her at the edge, but I noticed her love for beautiful words and catchy slogans. In three months of private sessions with me, what would become of her love for stories and explanatory essays made her anxiety the thing of the past. I connected with her personally, academically, and uniquely through genuine interactions.
In short, I was able to understand the unique needs of the three students mentioned above in distinct ways because I was able to meet the student where they were while imparting academic strategies to help them find success.
3 Takeaways To Support Your Student Socially At Home:
Tip #1: Talk to Your Child Regularly
If you would like to increase your child’s appetite for learning, be intentional in creating the family tradition of talking to your child every day is an excellent way to instill curiosity. Meaningful human interaction on a regular basis spurs the child’s imagination, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills. Because face-to-face interactions carry with them various complex interpersonal cues, regular conversations enrich the child's intellectual and emotional development. What do you talk about? Start with the child’s interests, this is a great conversation starter for hesitant students. Then, you connect the child’s interests with the values you want them to learn because of its long-term benefits like a strong work ethic, empathy, resilience, and patience. Slowly, you are building a strong bond with your child on so many levels.
Tip #2: Know Your Child’s Strengths
Students will be students, so adult guidance is critical. In a time when social and peer interactions have been temporarily absent in your child’s life, reminding the child of their innate strengths is a crucial way to boost the student’s mood and motivation. Confidence starts with a healthy dose of self-esteem. Knowing your child’s strengths will be advantageous, especially when your student is feeling down and needs something to lift their spirit so they can maintain their academic performance online. This would be a fine moment to remind your student of their aptitude and prowess that you’ve seen them demonstrated in various tasks in the past. Meaningful compliments don’t distract; they motivate.
Tip #3: Recognize and Refocus Your Child’s Passion
The age of innocence is always full of passion and interests, but passion is more perfect if combined with focus. The act of incentivizing your student to do the right thing because of a reward is a first step towards habituating good skills. The ultimate goal is to get the student to do the right thing even without rewards. If you demonstrate to your child what moderation looks like even when emotions run high, then your student would reap multitudes of benefits in the long run. For example, you can think aloud with the child ‘ it’s better to do homework first then watch your favorite show because then you can really enjoy your show without thinking about the homework in the back of your mind. That’s no fun.’ Refocus your child’s passion by showing your child healthy thinking patterns and logical decision-making, so your student can learn to prioritize, self-regulate, and live a personally and academically fulfilling life.
Every child should feel loved and appreciated. If you take meaningful steps to make the most of small moments in your student’s daily life, the pay off will be big over time. Your adoration, attention, care, and examples will enrich your relationship with your child and nurture your student’s motivational refuge for years to come.
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