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(1) Music. Kids like songs and catchy tunes. Think about how many times you've been unable to shake a song from your mind. Kids learn great lessons and ways of doing things such as learning your address, phone number, how to brush your teeth, state capitals, or even how to spell their names.
(2) Repetition. Hearing and seeing something enough times helps a child learn. It starts to stick to them like glue so having them repeat their verb conjugation of the word "to be" in Spanish or what
(3) Exposure. If your middle school kid has a science test on photosynthesis or the parts of the heart, post the photos and information they learn from class around the house. In the bathroom (they look at it while they brush their teeth), in their room where they study, in the kitchen on the wall where they can see it while they eat. Repeated exposure to educational tools is important. Think how you posted the alphabet in your toddlers room so they could see the letters everyday. The same holds true with an older child.
(4) Involvement. Nothing helps a child learn quite like an involved parent, but it doesn't mean you have to grill your child on their spelling words for hours at a time. Approach it differently, ask them to explain it to you. Such as "Pretend I don't know who Thomas Jefferson is. Tell me what you've learned about him" then simply listen. See how the child gets excited about telling you something they've learned.
(5) Routine. Having an established after school routine helps a child get their homework done without the chaos of trying to finish a forgotten assignment at midnight the night before its due. This can work even with after school activities. Have your child empty their homework at the same place everyday and ask them what's due, when and ask how you can help. The child should do their homework in the same place and put it in their backpack as soon as it's completed. Again, no scrambling for it the next morning or worse, leaving it at home. Nothing is more discouraging that doing the homework perfectly, only to leave it on your kitchen table.
(6) Environment. Make sure where the child does his homework is productive for that child's learning. Is the TV blaring, the radio on, you're cooking dinner and the child is sitting at the kitchen table stuck on problem #1? Maybe the environment is too chaotic for him. Find a quiet, simple place for the child to work by turning off the TV until all homework and chores are done. (The chores thing is really to help out parents.) That way you can offer a productive environment for the child and are able to stay involved in their progress. Limited distraction is important when learning new things or figuring out problems.