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Supporting Your Child s Education

Parent Involvement Vital to Children's School Success

Ever wonder why there is so much emphasis on parent involvement today? The reason is simple. Research shows parent involvement makes a big difference in children’s school success.

Here are seven key findings from recent research about the relationship of parent involvement to children’s school success:

  1. The family provides the child’s primary educational environment.
  2. Involving parents in their children’s formal education improves student achievement.
  3. Parent involvement is most effective when it is  comprehensive, long-lasting, and well-planned.
  4. The benefits of parent involvement are not confined to early childhood or the elementary level. There are strong positive effects from involving parents continuously throughout high school.
  5. Involving parents in their own children’s education at home is not enough. To ensure the quality of schools as institutions serving the community, parents must be involved at all levels in the school.
  6. Children from low-income and minority families have the most to gain when schools involve parents.  Parents do not have to be well-educated to help.
  7. We cannot look at the school and the home in isolation from one another. We must see how they interconnect with each other and with the world at large.

Source: Henderson, A. (1994) A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Crucial to Student Achievement. National Committee for Citizens in Education, Washington, DC.

Help Your Child Strive for Good Attendance

Research shows that the single most important factor contributing to student achievement is school attendance.  A student who is absent from school may be able to copy missed notes. However, other important aspects of the lessons are for lost forever.  Absent students miss out on discussion, raised questions, explanations and much more. Students fall behind and sometimes do not recover.

To support good school attendance:

  • Talk with your child about the importance of attending school regularly.
  • Avoid scheduling family trips or doctor appointments during school hours.
  • Make sure your student eats healthy foods and gets enough sleep and exercise.
  • Don’t accept excuses for why your child “must” miss or be late for school.
  • Discuss what happened at school each day.
  • Support school rules and consequences for skipping class and being tardy.
  • Provide incentives for improving school attendance and promptness.

Parents Can Help if Their Child is Having a Problem in School

If your child is having problems in school, there are ways you can help.  Here are some of them:

  • Talk with your child’s teacher. Learn about the studying your child is expected to do. Ask how you can help at home.
  • Give study tips. Teach your child how to make an outline or explain that cramming for a test isn’t as effective as studying over several nights.
  • Expect success. Children are more likely to do well if parents believe in them. Say things like, “I know that you can do it.”
  • Relate homework to real life. Mention how writing skills have helped you at work. Show your child that studying helps people in and out of school.
  • Review with your child. Ask your child practice questions, call out spelling words, or show him/her flash cards.
  • Use specific praise. Kids need to hear exactly what they’re doing right. For example, “God job! You’ve finished that project on time because you planned ahead.”
  • Ask to see graded assignments. Talk about the teacher’s marks and notes. Compliment your child’s progress.
  • Show interest. Ask frequently about what your child is studying. Send the message that schoolwork is important and interesting.

Have a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

Parent-teacher conferences are one of the most important ways you can learn about your child. In these conferences, you can see how well you child is doing. You can meet the teacher face to face so that he/she can understand your child better. You can also ask for suggestions that will make it easier for you and the school to work together throughout the year.  Here are four tips that can help you have a more successful parent-teacher conference.

  1. Plan for it. Before you come to your conference, write out some questions that you would like to ask.Here are some suggestions:
    • Does my child get along with others?
    • How is my child’s behavior in class?
    • Does my child read at the level you would expect for this grade?
    • Is my child able to do the math that you would expect for a student at this grade?
    • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses? (You will want to share your ideas about this as well).
  2. Keep an open mind. Your goal is to work for cooperation between you and your child’s teacher. Even if the teacher says something you disagree with, try to listen to what he has to say.  Later, you can add your own thoughts.
  3. Ask to see your child’s work.  There is no better way to see how your child is progressing than to look at his school work. You can judge for yourself whether you child is making progress.
  4. Ask for suggestions. If your child is doing well, ask what you can do to keep things on a  positive track.  f there are problems, ask what you can do to help.  If a teacher identifies problems, ask for ways you can work together to solve the problem.  If ideas are not  shared immediately, ask for a follow-up conference.

Make Homework More Fun

Setting a regular homework time is one of the most important ways to help your child use time wisely. Having a regular homework time lets your child know that schoolwork is a priority in your family.  It also avoids those “I’ll study after this TV show” arguments. Below are some tips to make homework time more productive.

  • Enforce your rule about a regular time for homework.  You may want to tell your child, “No TV until your homework is finished.”
  • Have a regular place for your child to do homework.  Use a desk or a table in a quiet room. Be sure there is plenty of light.
  • During homework time, turn off the TV and radio.
  • Before your child begins, talk with him about his assignments. Help him plan how he will use his time.
  • Set a good example. While your child is doing homework, spend some time reading or  working yourself. Then when homework is done, you can both talk about how much that  you both have accomplished.

When Should You Call the Teacher?

If despite your best efforts your child isn’t studying well, it is important to contact the school. As a team, you can work to solve the problem. Here are some signs that it is time to call the teacher:

  • Your child refuses to study no matter what you say or do.
  • You and your child do not understand homework instructions.
  • It seems impossible for your child to get organized.
  • Assignments are usually too hard or too easy for your child.
  • Your child has missed a lot of school and assignments.
  • A personal problem is affecting your child’s ability to study.
  • You have never talked with the teacher about how to help your child study.

These "Basics" Make Learning Possible . . . And They're Learned at Home

We hear a lot of talk about teaching children basic skills but before kids can learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, they need other basic skills. Here are some important basics your kids need to know and how you can teach these skills at home.

  • How to pay attention. Kids have an amazing ability to tune out anything they don’t want to hear. That’s frustrating enough at home but it can be even worse at school. Before you talk to your child, speak his name. Make sure he is looking at you when you speak.
  • How to wait for something. We live in an instant society. Today’s kids don’t even want to wait for micro-waved food! Teach your child that some things are worth waiting for and set a goal for something your child would like. Make a chart to keep track of progress as you try to achieve the goal.
  • Planning a job and carrying it through. Teach your children to finish what they start. Say things like, “Baking cookies was fun but the job isn’t over until we wash the dishes.”
  • Knowledge of time. Teachers need to set deadlines and students need to learn to keep them. At home, give your child a set amount of time to finish a job.