Tips to Encourage Active Learning

By Daniel Franklin, Ph.D


Kids who struggle in school often lack the confidence to engage in class activities • Although they’d rather stay “under the radar,” studies show that those who actively participate learn more and do better in school • Here are some helpful strategies to encourage your reluctant child to get involved in their learning 


Active learning is engaging in content thoughtfully and interactively. Students who think deeply about what is being taught, actively engage in discussions and ask questions learn significantly more than students who are passive. Following are several strategies you can use to help your child become an active learner: 

  1. Pre-teach subjects. Through communication with your child’s teacher and by carefully reviewing the class website, you can become aware of the content that will be taught in class. Use that information to preview one or two concepts with your child ahead of time. This will allow your child to better follow class conversations, stay engaged, and contribute. Not only does this approach promote better attention, but it also boosts comprehension.
  2. Encourage physical adjustments. Ask your child to sit up straight during class. This improves attention and breathing, increasing oxygen flow to the brain. Also, encourage your child to follow the teacher with their eyes. This enhances engagement and signals the teacher that your child is paying attention.
  3. Encourage asking questions. During homework sessions, help your child prepare questions to ask in class. Aim to have them ask at least one question every day. Explain that asking questions is one way teachers evaluate participation. If your child isn’t comfortable asking questions during class, urge them to ask questions during office hours typically before or after school, or during lunch or a free period. 
  4. Promote class participation. Contributing to class discussions is another way teachers recognize participation. Help your child research class topics, then encourage them to introduce new or additional information to class discussions.
  5. Encourage active listening. This means that your child should periodically ask themself “What am I listening for? Do I understand what I am hearing? What words are new to me? Even if I don’t ask, what questions could I ask if I want to.” Help your child determine when listening will be more effective than taking notes. If taking notes makes it difficult to understand what is being said, your child should focus on listening instead. They can always write down what they remember after the lesson or lecture. Alternatively, you can offer to take notes on what they remember from class.  

This article is excerpted from Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities (Strategies to Succeed in School and Life with Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, ADHD, and Auditory Processing Disorder), by Daniel Franklin, PhD; published by New Harbinger Publications (2018). Available at Amazon through this link: Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities. Dr. Franklin is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and the founder of Franklin Educational Services.

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