Schools take a variety of creative approaches to involve parents in their child’s learning, from parent-student cooking classes to sending tweets about lesson activities. Support from parents is key to helping kids do well academically. here are 5 tips for a successful school year.
But, as a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. When parents and families are involved in their children’s schools, the children do better and have better feelings about going to school. In fact, many studies show that what the family does is more important to a child’s school success than how much money the family makes or how much education the parents have.
There are many ways that parents can support their children’s learning at home and throughout the school year. So, I’d say as a teacher, here are some ideas to get you started!
1. Create a positive parent-teacher relationship.
This helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school,” advises Diane Levin, Ph.D., professor of education at Wheelock College. “It demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do. This positive relationship makes a child feel like the important people in his life are working together.”
- Communicating well is a key factor for making this relationship work. “Communication on both sides is extremely important,”
2. Teach Organizational Skills
When kids are organized, they can stay focused instead of spending time hunting things down and getting side-tracked.
What does it mean to be organized at the elementary level? For schoolwork, it means having an assignment book and homework folder (many schools supply these) to keep track of homework and projects. Check your child’s assignment book and homework folder every school night so you’re familiar with assignments and your child doesn’t fall behind. Set up a bin for papers that you need to check or sign. Also, keep a special box or bin for completed and graded projects and toss papers that you don’t need to keep.
Talk to your child about keeping his or her school desk orderly so papers that need to come home don’t get lost. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help stay organized. It’s also helpful to teach your child how to make a to-do list to help prioritize and get things done. It can be as simple as:
- Soccer/dress up
- Put clothes away
No one is born with great organizational skills — they need to be learned and practiced.
3. Attend parent-teacher conferences and keep in touch with your child’s teacher.
Schools usually have one or two parent-teacher conferences each year. You can also ask to meet with your child’s teacher any time during the year. If you have a concern and can’t meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note or set up a time to talk on the phone.
4. Make Time to Talk About School
It’s usually easy to talk with elementary students about what’s going on in class and the latest news at school. You probably know what books your child is reading and are familiar with the math being worked on. But parents can get busy and forget to ask the simple questions, which can have an effect on children’s success at school.
Make time to talk with your child every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they’ll take school seriously as well.
Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your child can influence how well your child listens and responds. It’s important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you chat. Be sure to ask questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” answers.
Besides during family meals, good times to talk include car trips (though eye contact isn’t needed here, of course), walking the dog, preparing meals, or standing in line at a store. These early years of schooling are an important time for parents to be informed and supportive about their child’s education.
5. Finally, but most crucial of all, Support Homework Expectations.
Homework in grade school reinforces and extends classroom learning and helps kids practice important study skills. It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility and a work ethic that will benefit them beyond the classroom. In addition to making sure your child knows that you see homework as a priority, you can help by creating an effective study environment. Any well-lit, comfortable, and quiet workspace with the necessary supplies will do. Avoiding distractions (like a TV in the background) and setting up a start and end time can also help.
A good rule of thumb for an effective homework and/or study period is roughly 10 minutes per elementary grade level. Fourth-graders, for example, should expect to have about 40 minutes of homework or studying each school night. If you find that it’s often taking significantly longer than this guideline, talk with your child’s teacher.
While your child does homework, be available to interpret assignment instructions, offer guidance, answer questions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the correct answers or complete the assignments yourself. Learning from mistakes is part of the process and you don’t want to take this.
I hope these top five tips guide you into ensuring your child has a successful school year.
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