Every year, eager parents asked me how they could best help their kids do well in school. They had already passed the first milestone just by asking this question. The number one predictor of a child’s success in school is parent involvement.
But, aside from assuring parents that teachers appreciate their interest and willingness to help, I was often stymied by what to say. So, a parent whom I considered an excellent child/school supporter sat down with me to brainstorm ways we could suggest positive parent involvement with their kids’ teachers. We created a first list. Parents were very appreciative. They also added some great suggestions. I share with you our communal list in hopes that it will help you make sure your child gets off to a great start in school this year.
1. Formulate a plan for homework and be consistent. Set aside a quiet time and place for your kids to do their homework—no matter what their age! The homework gets done—and checked—before the child leaves the homework area. If you are not sure whether you are getting an accurate homework story, ask your child’s teacher if she posts homework on the school’s website or will complete a homework book. If there is no assigned homework the child can work on reading or math number facts or studying for an upcoming test or going over notes. Supervise homework time and assist if necessary. It is not unrealistic for elementary students to have up to a half hour of homework each night or for secondary school students to have up to an hour’s homework time.
2. Be a cheerleader for your child and for the school! Encourage, praise and show interest and involvement. These go a long way toward kids feeling successful.
3. If your child is experiencing difficulties with a subject or a task help him put together an action plan for succeeding. This is an excellent life skill. DO NOT SAY, “Well I didn’t do well at math either!” You MIGHT say, “I struggled at writing essays too and this is how my parents and I helped me improve. Let’s see if this works for you!”
4. Treat every assignment with enthusiasm. Learning is fun and interesting. Don’t complain about how boring or dumb an assignment is. Help make it fun for your child.
5. Don’t isolate learning as a school thing. Plan extensions of what is going on in school. Make family outings educational. For instance: if your child is studying about the American Revolution plan a family outing to a battleground or museum. If he is learning about healthy foods plan an outing to an apple orchard or a cooking activity involving healthy recipes. Collect resources on a social studies or geography theme.
6. Encourage your child to share family outings and activities with the class by sending pictures or a photo essay or healthy muffins you and your child have made. List the ingredients for those who have food allergies and always avoid peanut products!
7. Teach your child how to eat an elephant. Every task may seem impossible to your child until it is broken down into bite-size steps. For instance, if your child has a project on The Erie Canal, talk about the steps that are required to complete it and help your child create a timeline for doing so. This is a valuable lesson for higher education.
8. Make your house a learning-friendly center. Visit the library with your child and help him pick out books and videos. Subscribe to a magazine that is age-appropriate for your child (see resources). Having magazines come addressed to your child just like the adults’ magazine subscriptions is a huge deal. Share the learning with your child by discussing the activities and puzzles and stories.
9. Set a good example. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, get involved in your child’s homework, school projects and extracurricular activities. If your child sees that you are interested and having fun with these pastimes so will he!
10. Don’t do the work for him or over-manage. Let the responsibility for school projects, homework assignments and studying for tests belong to your child. Be a mentor, a supporter, a guide on the side.
11. Know when to intervene. If your child seems frustrated or tearful over a task, talk it over with his teacher. Together you can devise a plan.
12. Encourage social activities by hosting after-school or week-end activities for your child and a few classmates. Get to know the kids with whom your child associates and their parents.
13. Join the parent-teacher association and attend meetings.
14. Involve yourself in what is going on in the classroom by attending meet the teacher functions, volunteering for in-class and in-school activities. Offer your time and talents in your child’s class. Go on field trips. You’ll learn so much about your child and his school/social life.
15. Don’t keep the school in the dark about a change in your child’s health, a family death, or divorce, and older sibling’s departure for college or an important accomplishment in your child’s extra-curricular life. Your child’s teacher needs to know that something life-changing has occurred for your child.
16. Remember your child’s education is a home and school partnership. Work with the school to ensures your child’s learning experiences are happy and enriching ones.
Do you have great ideas to add? Please share them with us!
Resources Children’s Magazines
Chirp, Chickadee, Owl (for 9-14 yr.) $34.95/yr. science magazines
1-800-551-6957. Within Canada Mail to: Owlkids, P.O. Box 726, Station Main, Markham, ON L3P 7V9 Outside Canada Mail to: Owlkids 75 Boxwood Lane, Buffalo, NY 14227-2780
National Geographic for Little Kids (ages 3-6 years) and National Geographic for Kids $24.95/yr.
Cicada (ages 14-21 years) $33.95/yr.
Cricket (ages 9-14) $33.95/yr.
Story Box (ages 3-6 years $90/yr.
Ranger Rick (7 and up) $19.95/yr.
Dig (9-14 years) $33.95/yr.
Your Backyard ( 4-7 years) $33.95
Oddysey (9-14 years) $33.95
Games Magazine (ten and older) 10 issues $29.00 https://www.neodata.com/pub/kappa/games/
now available in digital format as well as hard copy 10 issues $20.00
Highlights (6-12); High Five (for kids under 6) $34.44/yr.
Humpty Dumpty (ages 5- 7) $19.95/yr.