Elementary Study Skills & Teacher as Student: Tales of a College Coach Workplace Event

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All of us working parents lead somewhat of a double-life walking the tightrope of being a fully engaged employee at work and a wholly present parent at home.

I deliver workshops and provide personalized counseling to stressed-out working parents every day. I help with their financial well-being, save them time and money, and ease their concerns over financing their children's educations. Yet I still struggle with my own anxieties as a working mom, raising a young son and trying to prepare him for a lifetime of learning.

So, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a workshop that Bright Horizons recently offered its employees: Elementary School Essentials, a webinar hosted by my colleague, and school-age education expert, Kennon Dick.

The webinar explored how parents can help their children adopt constructive working habits and develop the positive approach to learning that's so critical to a lifetime of success both in school, and (far!) down the road when they enter the workforce. It's a fantastic tool to help me figure out how to best support my son's elementary study skills.

Elementary Study Skills: The Bigger Picture

My biggest takeaway was to think outside the box when defining my son's academic success. Kennon explained that it's useful to identify kids' room for improvement, but elementary school grades don't truly demonstrate mastery of material. He encouraged parents like me those of us who might be a bit too worried about our kids' grades to think about the many ways to define academic success in our kids. Do they like to learn? Are they independent in their work? Can they overcome challenges? Are they willing to work on weaknesses? These types of successes for young children are far more important than any letter on a report card.

Encouraging Good Study Habits

Well, what can we do when our children avoid math or writing homework, rather than experience the frustration of working on a weakness?

Kennon shared equally helpful tips for encouraging our kids' academic development, including the proper use of praise. Studies have consistently shown that praise given for effort at a specific task results in increased performance, praise for simply being smart results in flat or even decreased performance. As Kennon explained, "emphasizing effort gives a child a variable she can control," an insight that served as a wake-up call to this mom. I probably tell my son what a smart boy he is a little too often, while neglecting to praise him for the hard work he puts in to succeed.

Perspective on Elementary Study Skills

I spoke to Kennon after the webinar, and he assured me that my concerns are not atypical. Most parents he counsels have questions about fundamental issues: getting kids organized, motivated, and setting boundaries. Parents sometimes just need help getting perspective. "I'll never forget," he said, "a dad describing his daughter's routine after school and expressing concern about her inability to focus on her homework at 7:00 p.m. Since most schools serve lunch between 10:00 and 12:00 and he mentioned family dinner is at 8:00, I asked when she last ate to keep her energy up. Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, 'How did I not see that?'" Kennon expressed how rewarding it is to hear the relief in parents' voices that there's someone out there who can be a resource  or even just a sounding board.

As a parent experiencing the program on "the other end of the phone" for the first time, I experienced this same sense of relief. I was so happy to know that my concerns are common and that I'm doing many things correctly to encourage my son's love of learning. Now, I can make better choices for my son's academic development thanks to the expert guidance from Kennon and College Coach.

I'm looking forward to more of the College Coach benefit on "the other end of the phone" as my son continues to grow, learn, and develop.  

Written by: Shannon Vasconcelos

About the Author

Shannon works with Bright Horizons Education & College Advising corporate clients to deliver college financing workshops and provide personalized counseling to employees. She has over 10 years of experience in student financial assistance, at Boston University and Tufts University, and has also served as an active member of MASFAA’s Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, as a trainer for DOE’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts.