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7 Ways to Be the Teacher Your Child Needs

Think back a few years to when you were in school. Did you have a favorite teacher?

At the time, you probably didn’t consider why you preferred one teacher over another. You just knew that you felt valued, loved, and understood in Miss Smith’s classroom. In fact, you still feel kind of warm and fuzzy when you think about sweet Miss Smith!

mom and daughter learning together

What Makes a “Good” Teacher?

Let’s consider this question from a child’s perspective. If you asked your child to tell you what she wants in a teacher, what would she say? Go ahead and ask her … I’ll wait!

If your child is like most, you probably heard things like “gives me lots of recess” or “doesn’t make me do math.” But if we were to take a poll of the characteristics that children really appreciate in a teacher, we might also hear responses like these:

  • Is nice to me
  • Doesn’t yell
  • Listens to me
  • Cares about me
  • Is excited when I get something right
  • Is proud of me when I try
  • Understands that I’m not like everyone else
  • Makes learning fun
boy having fun learning

Did you notice that many of these qualities focus on the relationship between teacher and student? Coupled with the fact that your homeschooled child lives with his teacher, the importance of a positive student-teacher relationship gains even greater significance. But in the ups and downs of the daily grind, we sometimes get so focused on teaching and “improving” our kids that we forget to let them know how important they are to us and how much we believe in them.

Positive Encouragement Is Huge!

We all love working with people who bring out the best in us—people who encourage us, lift us up, and motivate us to reach higher—and your child is no different. If he ever feels discouraged, try some encouraging words to increase his motivation and help him get back on track.

This quote from Mother Theresa is one of my favorites: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” It can be helpful to have a reminder of that from time to time, so we created this beautiful printable poster to serve as a daily reminder that your kids need your encouragement.

download encouraging words poster

6 More Ways to Be the Teacher Your Child Needs

The impact the student-teacher relationship can have on your child’s ability to succeed is immeasurable. Here are a few more ways that you can be what your child needs most in a teacher.

  1. Treat lesson time as special.
    As your child’s teacher, you will spend many one-on-one hours with your child. Teaching is the perfect platform to show your child how much value he has in your eyes. What a great opportunity to encourage your child, build him up, and help him develop skills and character.
  2. Smile.
    Think about what a difference a smile from your boss or coworker makes when you’re feeling frustrated. To a discouraged child, a smile may communicate you can do it! even better than words can.
  3. Reinforce the positive.
    Point out the things your student does correctly more often than you point out his mistakes. The more you reinforce something, the more likely your child is to repeat it. Just follow the basic principles on the graphic below.
list of 5 principles for reinforcing the positive
  1. Avoid comparing your child.
    The temptation to compare your child to another child, to a test result, or even to your ideal outcome is a “big pit” that puts pressure on your child and usually leads to frustration and discouragement.
  2. Listen to your child.
    Attentive listening lets your child know you are engaged and present in the conversation, and a child who knows he is heard and understood feels valued.
  3. Listen to yourself.
    But don’t just listen … listen through your child’s ears. Do you need to include more expressions of approval in your teaching?

How do you encourage your child? Let me know in the comments and we’ll add some of our readers’ ideas to the list below.

Tips for Encouraging Your Child, Recommended by Our Readers

  • When my kids are discouraged with a new activity, I help my children remember to keep working at it because they will get better! (Recommended by Renee W. via Facebook)
  • I help my child work toward progress and not perfection. (Recommended by Karina D. via Facebook)
  • I write them small encouraging letters and stick them to the bathroom mirror. (Recommended by Amber via blog comment)
  • I like to give them high fives and tell them that I love spending my days with them! (Recommended by Christina H. via blog comment)
  • When my child is discouraged because she doesn’t understand something, I repeat what she said, but with the word “yet.” “You don’t understand this yet.” (Recommended by Julie via blog comment.)
  • When my kids tell you me “It’s too hard!” I reply, “Yes, this task is hard, but you CAN do hard things!” (Recommended by Kay via blog comment)
  • I love to point out what my son has already accomplished to help him see what he is capable of. “Can you believe you just read a WHOLE story by yourself?” or “You have already read HALF of this whole book!” are a couple of examples. (Recommended by Anina via blog comment)

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Sonia

says:

This is great! Loved

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Sonia!

Jane Evabs

says:

I am always so grateful to you for your uplifting, non judgemental advice and support.Through your constant emails, I have been inspired to succeed with so many of my students during lockdown; it has also been reassuring to know that my practice is sound and makes a difference to each and everyone of the students. Thank you for your golden nuggets.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so very welcome, Jane. And it’s lovely to hear that you have found our emails so helpful during these trying times.

Christine Marchant

says:

I love your posts!!!
Very logical and sensible!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Christine!

Jenny

says:

I am looking for help for my 6 year old granddaughter who is struggling to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Do you have any questions or specific concerns, Jenny? You may find our 10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner, Signs of a Reading Problem, and The “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling blog posts helpful. But let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

Awele

says:

Very insightful.

Elizabeth T

says:

Hello, I have a child in 6th grade who is struggling with spelling. My question is where to start? Also, how long does it take for children to get through each level? My concern is that my child will be in this program as a senior in High School?. Thank you for any help you can provide for me.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elizabeth,
We have a spelling placement test to help you determine which level your child needs to start with, however, most struggling spellers need to start with level 1.

We find that many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher-level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 has specific techniques to solve these problems.

However, we encourage teachers of older students to “fast track” if the student knows how to spell most of the words but does not understand the underlying basic spelling concepts. In this case, very quickly skim the parts that he (or she) already knows and slow down on the parts that he needs to learn. Pull out several words as examples. Make sure he understands the concept being taught and that he can demonstrate it back to you with the tiles or app, and then move on. This blog article on Using All About Spelling with Older Students has a good example of how you might fast track.

All About Spelling is designed for you to move through it at your student’s pace. We recommend working for about 20 minutes per day, 5 days per week. We find that short, daily lessons work better than longer but fewer sessions. Each day you’ll spend a few minutes reviewing the review cards, and then you’ll pick up in the book wherever you left off previously. Some steps may be easy for your child, and you’ll go through them quickly, while others may be more difficult. Spend as much time as your child needs to master the material. If your student starts to forget things, that’s a sign that you need to slow down and do more review. This article on the Funnel Concept can help you see why moving too quickly can make retention difficult.

Older students like your child usually get through 2-3 levels the first year and 1-2 levels per year after that. How long each level takes will vary greatly depending on your student: what he already knows, and what he’s struggling with. In her private tutoring practice, Marie Rippel (the author of All About Spelling) normally expects to go through up to four levels in a year’s time when working with older children. The exception is when the child has extreme dyslexia or other learning struggles; then it takes longer. So, don’t be overly concerned about how long it takes. Instead, move as quickly as possible while ensuring mastery. Take it at a speed that’s right for your child. Note, the final level of All About Spelling, level 7, covers through 12th-grade spelling.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have more questions or concerns. My daughter was near the end of 4th grade when she started All About Spelling and finished the last level halfway through 9th grade, and the only reason it took that long is that we had to wait almost a year between level 6 and level 7 because level 7 was not yet published (this was many years ago). There is a very good chance your child can finish all 7 levels well before 12th grade.

Liz

says:

Thank you for sharing this.I know better on how to assist my six years old daughter

Krystal

says:

Thanks so much for this! Any advice for a 5 year old struggling with learning her letters and sounds? I have tried everything from coloring, painting, using a keyboard, play dough everything! I’m stranded at this point and feel so bad for my angel.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your child is struggling, Krystal.

Have you seen our How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers blog post? It has some helpful ideas and lots of links and printables.

You may also consider our Pre-reading level of All About Reading as letter learning is one of the 5 Reading Readiness Skills it focuses on.

With a child that struggles like this, start with just one letter. Keep teaching it and reviewing it until she has it mastered. We have lots of options on the blog for keeping this interesting.

Only when she has a good handle on the first letter will you introduce the next one. Keep reviewing the first letter as you teach and review the second one. Only when she has both down well should you introduce a third letter, but again keep reviewing the first two. Have an ABC chart and sing the alphabet song daily and have her point to the letters she knows as you sing.

Continue this way, taking as much time as needed (will be at least many weeks, could be many months) for her to master the entire alphabet. If she has trouble learning the name of letters and their sounds at the same time, go through the alphabet the first time learning letter names only. Then start again, learning letter sounds the second time.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you need more ideas. And let me know how things go over the next month or two.

Guilty mum

says:

Thank you for sharing this. ❤️

Monalisa

says:

Some great ideas here! Thank you for sharing!

Katina

says:

Thanks for sharing this website on encouragement… I feel it a needed especially in what we’re face with in the world today.. Children need positive words to help them to have high self-esteem.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, you are so right, Katina. And sadly, when adults’ stress increases our tendency to be curt increases too. We all need a reminder to be kind and gentle to everyone right now.

Jasmine Martin

says:

Thank you for this encouraging and challenging blog post on being the teacher our students/children need. This is something I want to improve on and help them thrive and continue to say, “I love mom as my teacher!”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Jasmine. Those words would be so sweet to hear. ?

Ebunoluwa

says:

Thanks for sharing this.

Linda Undernehr

says:

Great tips!

Mohamed

says:

Thank you so much for sharing this amazing tips in study guide.
You are absolutely unique and out of this world and your blog is really the very best place to study smart.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Mohamed! I’m very pleased to hear that our blog has been so helpful for you.

Manish Badkas

says:

Basics do work

Kristi

says:

I pull out some of their work to show daddy when he gets home. They like to show daddy their work too but when I do it, it seems to be a little more meaningful. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a lovely way to encourage your children and let them know you are proud of their work, Kristi! I love this idea. ❤️

Marilyn Brown

says:

Thank you! Great tips!

JoAnna

says:

Thank you for these reminders of ways to encourage our students. I always find your blog articles to be helpful and encouraging, yet brief and easy to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww, thank you, JoAnna! It’s lovely to be appreciated and even better to know our blog articles are helpful and encouraging to you. ?

Beth

says:

This is an excellent reminder at the end of the year when we are all feeling tired and done.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Beth! The end of the year can be difficult and I think we all can use this reminder. ?

Catherine

says:

Thank you so much for the article l really appreciate because this has helped me to improve my relationship with my daughter ,l have just realized that she needs to hear words of encouragement from me.Now she feels appreciated and confident.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, I’m so happy to hear this, Catherine! Thank you for letting us know this was helpful for you and your daughter. I’m excited to hear that your relationship has improved. I’ll be sharing this with the entire AALP team!

Shawnee

says:

With the recent transition to homeschooling due to the covid-19 pandemic, I am SO grateful for this article!
Thank you for the well-designed and informative resources!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so happy this was helpful or you, Shawnee! If you need anything, just let me know.

Michelle Bullard

says:

A GREAT reminder! Thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Michelle! ?

Angela Almond

says:

“..tell them I love spending my days with them!” This made me tear up. I really do love spending time with them and they need to know it! Thank you for these reminders.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I so know what you mean, Angela! Yes, they need to know. I think we all need that reminder.

Cute Dumisani Dube

says:

I am grateful to have browsed through this program of how to reach struggling learners in class. I am not a qualified teacher but i voluntarily avail myself to school in order to help with such kind of learners who cannot read or write. I am there to encourage them and also have some one one sessions with them just to find out what seems to the problem with and for the passed 10 years being a volunteer in different schools. I have seen a positive results of the work i do to these learners and they always achieve greatly, because I help them understand that they can make regards their challenges. I have also seen it working with my daughter with my daughter who is in grade who is now in grade 8 and she has progressed so much in her reading and writing to the point that she is the one who sometimes teach me new words that she find through her own research since I normally go with her to the library. I kindly thank you for your tips and I believe they will help other teachers in the school were I am a volunteer as part of extra school support programme.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for all you do! It sounds like so many students have benefitted from your caring help.

Megan H

says:

I needed to read this today. That daily grind has been getting us all down, & this article just breathed a breath of fresh air into our homeschool day. Thanks for caring about our relationships with our kids in addition to their learning!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hugs, Megan. I have found getting into a slump to be easy this time of year, after the holidays but still so far from the end of the school year. I’m happy this blog post was helpful for you today.

Summer

says:

Great read! New to this whole process and looking for any tips.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We were all new once, Summer. ? Let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

Ralu V

says:

So true! We are actually struggling right now with “no fun” school (though she doesn’t really understand it because she doesn’t have to what to compare it too) – and I promise you that all she does is as fun as possible. But sometimes you only appreciate things once you don’t have them anymore ??‍♀️ We homeschool… But I also would love to teach my kids that, in life, there will be things that we do not necessarily enjoy doing but still have to do them (like washing dishes after eating a very good meal ☺️).

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ralu,
Oh, I understand this. Learning to do what needs to be done and not just what you want to do is an important life lesson. Keep up this important teaching. ?

Terri Baehr

says:

I hope to utilize the things in this article to minimize the daily arguments that tend to take place.

Michael B.

says:

Wonderful post!

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