Students need a safe environment, good teachers, and strong administrators to be successful in school. Yet, the school and its staff are not the sole arbitrators of the students’ success. Neither is the student the only factor in a successful academic career. Instead, it takes a team of people and situations to make for a successful school year. Parents need to be proactive in their child’s education. This does not mean just political awareness on education issues, PTA participation and/or checking nightly homework, although those things are factors too. A parent’s proactive stance requires providing the tools and support needed for kids to be successful.
Home is where the heart is and where most learning happens. Parents are the first teachers of their child and do not relinquish that responsibility when kids go to school. Parents need to do more than checking homework and attending field trips. Parents need to create a learning-friendly environment in the home.
Explore with the student what the student’s learning style is. People learn differently. Some folks are very visual, others are listeners. Some require a desk in a quiet room to get anything done, while others learn best with noise and stimulation. Knowing what works for your child will help the child achieve in school.
Provide a place for homework. For some kids the kitchen table or living room coffee table works best. It helps them spread out and have others around them while working. Other students like to sit on their bed and relax while finishing assignments. Some even prefer a desk in a silent room. Provide what works best for the student based upon what the student says and what the report card reports.
Be proactive in a non-intrusive way. Ask specific questions that require more than a one-word answer. Ask what the student is reading in class, what they think of the book and whether or not they find it difficult and why. Explore current event assignments encouraging discussion of the event in the family. Each subject a student explores can be assessed for specific discussion and help parents know and understand how the child is doing in school.
The tools for school are big business! School supplies run from simple pencils to high-end computers. There is no disputing the fact that kids need school supplies to do the job they need to do. Sometimes, however we neglect some of the most needed supplies that are not advertised on the television.
Get your child a library card. Kids need to read, and not just for school. A library card in most places is an admission ticket to books, computers, art programs and a whole host of services. It costs nothing and can be one of the biggest assets in your son or daughter’s backpack.
Don’t over schedule your child. After school activities are fun and important to a child’s happiness. These activities also provide needed supervision for working parents. Kids, however need unscheduled time. A student can’t do a good job on homework if each day they are attending another activity that ends after seven. Kids need dinner time, family time and homework time.
Parent need to engage the student about school every day. This is one of the biggest tools a student has in his/her success box. After-school programs often provide homework help and supervision which is a great relief for parents, but parents need to look at and explore the homework with their children. Even if it is only fifteen minutes a night, active parent involvement is a tool for success that no child should do without.
The Need to Read
Reading is a basic skill for learning. The library card is a tool as mentioned above, but only if it is used. Kids need to read for pleasure, not just for school. Set fifteen minutes of a bedtime routine as reading time for the kids. If your teen can’t seem to settle down for the night, let them read in bed. Ban the computers and the hand held games from this time. Having kids read something of their own choosing, not for school, for a short time each day will make reading a habit and provide enjoyment for the child. Let your child see you as the parent make time for reading.
Keep It Positive
Above all try and keep it all positive. When discussing school-related issues, both problems and daily discussion, keep a positive attitude. When your child complains about the homework, listen to be sure that there is not an unreasonable factor in the homework, then be positive about ways to get it done. Don’t allow school discussions to be complaining festivals. Steer the discussion to the good, funny, and interesting elements that each day does contain. Be encouraging and supportive of both teachers and students. In the end a successful school year may take a lot of effort, but the results are well worth it.
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