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How to Help Your Teen Get Great Grades

By Sarah Newton

When parents ask me to coach their teenagers they inevitably want their child's school grades to improve and seem a little shocked when I say, "Yes, that's easy."

Like Susan, who sent her 13-year-old to me. Grace was doing OK at school, however her parents wanted to get her into a better school and to do that her grades needed to improve. Grace was enrolled in one of my coaching programmes and by the end of the programme her predicted C grades had become A and B, with a 100% pass rate in science a previously disliked subject.

How did we do it? The answer is to know your child's learning style. When you do, you can help them to help themselves. Coupled with understanding what motivates them, what drives them and their perspective of the world, you can motivate any teenager to improve their schoolwork.

So this week I though I would share with you my guide to learning styles:

Learning style is the way in which you learn most easily, knowing this can make studying much easier. People learn in four ways, through reading, listening, doing or graphics and we will discuss each one.

Reading -- these people learn mostly by reading and writing; this is predominately the style taught at school. When studying, they read and make lots of notes. This style is known as verbal memory.

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Listening -- These people learn most by hearing something spoken to them. In class they are likely to enjoy discussion where people are talking and get bored when there is writing to be done. When studying they may read and talk out loud or tape themselves and listen at a later date. They will also ask others to question them so they can speak their answers. This style is knows as tonal memory.

Doing -- these people learn by movement in some way. These will be the students constantly fidgeting at school, they cannot sit still. In studying they are likely to walk around and make up rhythmic songs and poems. These students may benefit from studying with either the TV and radio on and also may hum or sing while they are studying. This style is known as rhythm memory.

Graphics -- these people learn by seeing pictures, tables or graphs. When studying, they are likely to draw pictures and put information into tables and boxes, they also will enjoy using mind maps. This style is known as design memory.


Think of a time that your child was studying recently and the methods they used.

Which one of these four do you think they are and why? Ask your teen and see if you are right.

Write a list of 5 ways you can support your teenager's learning style now you have discovered what it is. For example, telling your child to switch off the TV while studying may not be the right things to do, depending on their learning style.

So, if we go back to Grace, she was typical in that her Mum made her do her homework in a room all by herself with no noise. Grace found this very hard and as we worked together we found that she was very high in rhythm memory. So we began to do things like introduce a radio into the room where she was studying, studying while walking around the room and making up songs and poems. The results were incredible. As for the science exam, she made up a song about the valancy table while playing the guitar at the same time -- it worked a treat and is just what someone with high rhythm memory needs. I should know, as this is my greatest learning style. When I was in the police, I learned every piece of legislation to a song and I can tell you, it took me all my might not to sing the charges to someone as I was arresting them! In fact if you asked me now, I could still sing the Theft Act to you. You play it, I'll sing it!

© Sarah Newton
Sarah Newton is one of the world's leading teen coaches. She enjoys a high profile and is one of the only Teen Coaches to have hosted her own eight part TV series "My Teen's a nightmare -- I'm Moving Out". Her first book " Help! My Teenager is an Alien - the everyday situation guide for parents" was launched in March 2007 by Penguin and rarely drops out of the top ten parenting teenager books. Sarah believes that parents can have great relationships with their teenagers and still get all the boring things done and to this end she offers everyday practical advice. To get Free access to Sarah's "3 easy proven techniques to instantly reduce stress in your home and dramatically improve the relationship with your teen" go to


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