Parents and carers can support children’s learning by leading and coaching them towards coming up with their own answers.

This type of support shows children how to learn, helps them think things through so that they learn more effectively and makes it more likely that they will succeed.

Five tips on supporting your child’s learning 

Children can generally do more difficult things with an adult than they can do on their own. 

It is important that the tasks you give children are challenging enough to engage them, but not so difficult that they can’t succeed without your help.

Here’s five ways to support a child’s thinking and learning:

1. Prompt children to extend their thinking

  • Ask them to think about something relevant: “Why do you think…?"
  • Ask them to think through alternatives: “That would be one way, what’s another way we could try?"
  • Provide support for thinking through difficult tasks: “Let’s have a think about this together."

2. Ask them to explain the steps

  • Help children to plan their approach: “What is it that we need to do?"
  • Ask them to review their steps so far: “Tell me about what you have already tried?"

3. Demonstrate – show and tell

  •  Show an example and talk it through: “First, I will …, and then I will …, and then I can… "

4. Break it into steps

  • If it seems that your child is struggling and becoming frustrated, the task may be set too far above his or her current ability. Some signs that might mean a task really is too hard are when a child strongly reacts when he can’t complete the task (eg. cries or becomes angry), or when he or she takes an unusually long time to finish one part of a task. If this happens, try breaking the task down into smaller steps that are more manageable. Showing children how to do the first part of the task, then guiding them to think through and attempt the next part, helps them learn and supports their confidence.
  • Help children who are stuck by breaking the task into smaller steps.
  • It’s a good idea to ensure the first step involves something the child can already do. This way they will experience success early which helps their confidence.
  • Be sure to provide praise for completing each step as they work through a task.
  • Guide children step-by-step to build their skills so they can eventually complete the whole task on their own.

5. Watch for signs of frustration

  • If you notice your child becoming frustrated by a task, try and step in before he or she gives up.
  • It can be a good idea to encourage your child to take a short break, or to try something else for a while. Taking a break and coming back refreshed can often make tasks seem easier.

For more information

Thinking and learning: Suggestions for families