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Excellence in Education - - Archived

Helping your kids put their best feet forward in school

Most kids spend nearly 1,500 hours in school each year. As parents, there are a lot of things we can do to assure that time is well spent.

Get Them Talking

If your kids are like most, it can be hard to get them to talk about their school day. Some kids are more reluctant than others. But most can be coaxed to open up, with parenting tips like these.

1. Follow Their Lead

Some kids aren’t ready to talk immediately after school, but will open up just fine once they’ve had time to process their day, have a snack, and touch base at home.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Rather than, “How was school today?” which is sure to elicit a monosyllabic response, try asking about specific things like, “Tell me about the game you played at recess today” or “What are y’all doing in gym now?”

3. Use their Take-home Work to Generate Conversations

Showing interest in a child’s work can increase their self-esteem. Offering to help study with an older child or commenting positively on the artwork of a younger child can establish a link school and home.

4. Know their School Schedule

Knowing what they do each day means for younger kids you can ask about show and tell or library day. For older kids, teachers often send home a syllabus so you know which topics are being covered when and can discuss the ones that interest you or you’re curious about.

5. Learn Together

Spend time together doing Internet research on the topics they’re learning that interest them. You can learn new facts your child can take to school and may even be able to find movies or documentaries on the subject to watch together. 

6. Share about your Own Day

If you had a lousy day, make an age-appropriate comment about it. If you met a new coworker or conquered a new challenge, tell your child about it. Discussing your own trials and successes will model for your child a relationship where you share what happened when you were apart.

7. Follow Their Lead

We all have times when we’re more or less talkative. If your child tends to open up at bedtime when things have slowed down, then take the time to listen then (even if it means they go to sleep a little later).

8. Listen, Listen, and Listen

Once your child gets started talking about her day, hold off on questions and let them talk. And don’t let their sharing turn into lecture time, or they may not share the next time.

Helping with Homework

Child development experts agree that kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework. But “helping” with work doesn’t mean doing their work. Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.

  1. Know the teachers and what they expect. You can usually find this out at a Meet the Teachers or Open House event.
  2. Set up a homework-friendly area that’s well-lit with supplies within reach.
  3. Schedule a regular study time that works best for your child. Different children do better at different times of night.
  4. Help them make a plan and show them how to break up their work into manageable chunks.
  5. Create a work schedule with a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  6. Keep distractions to a minimum. No TV, loud music, or cell phones.
  7. Make sure they do their own work and make their own mistakes. You may make suggestions and help with directions. But it’s their job to do the learning.
  8. Praise their work and efforts. Post a good test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
  9. Keep in mind not all kids are “A” students. Praise character, not just grades.
  10. If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk to your child’s teacher. He or she may need to be tested for glasses, learning challenges, or attention deficit.

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