“I don’t understand!”, It sounded yesterday during the math class in Fieke’s (31) house. Not from the mouth of the 8-year-old Tijn, but from that of Fieke herself. “Never mind mommy, it is also difficult”, son reassured his mother.
“It has been a long time since I was at school myself”, says Fieke. “Moreover, the method is often very different from how you once learned it yourself. Then you sometimes do not understand at all what is actually meant by an assignment.”
Help from master Google
And more parents are encountering this: figures from Google show that there is a lot more search for terms such as ‘long division’, ‘tables’ or ‘verb’. During the first closure of the schools, these search terms skyrocketed, and many parents are turning to the internet for help this week.
Much sought after for language and calculation aids
Even if parents understand the material perfectly themselves, it is not always possible to explain it to their children, says developmental psychologist Steven Pont.
“That didactics, how you transfer knowledge, is the teacher’s profession,” says Pont. “Not everyone can do that. Moreover, there are different ways of explaining the same information. That is why it is useful to look up teaching materials online, such as YouTube videos of teachers.”
“Parents sometimes take too big steps, or they use a completely different method than the teacher or master at school,” says Pont. “Suppose a child learns ‘breeding sheep’ at school, as a mnemonic for verb spelling, and their father or mother starts talking about the ‘coffee ship’, then that child thinks: what are you talking about? A misunderstanding can easily arise.”
‘You can’t learn when you’re angry’
And misunderstandings lead to frustration, says Pont: “A parent thinks, ‘Why don’t you understand?’, While their child thinks, ‘You can’t explain.’ Then you get resentment. Emotions like that are debilitating for learning. You cannot learn when you are angry. “
Fieke also experiences this frustration: “My child really misses school. The interaction with friends, the presence of the master. That sometimes makes it difficult to motivate him.”
That is why Fieke tries to take it easy. “Too much pressure only creates stress,” she says. “I now think rather: if it doesn’t work, then just leave it for a while. Otherwise the atmosphere will not improve.”
Very bad teacher
A good approach, Pont thinks. “Let it cool down for a while and try again later,” says the psychologist. “You can also use humor. If you can laugh together about how bad things are going, the tension can be released. Use self-mockery, for example, that you notice that you are a very bad teacher.”
Another tip from Pont: make a plan together with your child. “Discuss together what you are going to do. Let your child really think along, then the chance is ten times greater that he will stick to the plan. And also discuss what went wrong. If it turns out that forty-five minutes is too long to calculate, then you can say: this was the mistake of the day, tomorrow we will take twenty minutes. “