Thursday, September 6, 2007

11 Parenting Tips to Help Your Child Succeed at School

For most parents, sending children to school is a necessity of
childrearing. The goal when parents turn their precious children
over to the school, be they toddlers or teenagers, is for kids
to be safe, comfortable and ready to learn. Too often, parents
feel like separate entities from their child's teacher/s and
school. As soon as parents hug their children goodbye in the
morning, parenting is put on hold until they collect their kids
at the end of the school day; and virtual strangers take over
the important parenting/teaching role.

Becoming an active member of the child's teaching team is an
important role for parents that not only encourages the child's
learning, but alleviates some of the anxiety that parents feel
as they place their children in the hands of the school.
Thinking as a team allows parents to become more involved in
their child's educational experience and opens up good
communication between parents and teachers.

Assuming that the school is of quality and the teachers
competent, what is the role of the parent in the learning
process? It is important for parents to understand their role as
members of the team and to respect the boundaries of the school.
Parents must also feel confident to step in, on behalf of the
child, when situations call for action.

Below are helpful steps for developing a good relationship with
the child's school and parenting with the goal of academic
success.

Establish a Set Bedtime Routine Get kids bathed, and into bed
early. It is in the hands of the parents to deliver well rested,
fed, happy and bright eyed children to school every morning.

Drop Off is Not for Conferences Drop off children promptly each
morning. Leave the house on time so children are not stressed
when they arrive to class. Give a big hug and kiss, give one
goodbye, and leave the building. Prolonging goodbyes is
upsetting to most children. Good teachers are equipped to handle
upset children, and children rarely continue to cry after the
parent leaves. By being strong at drop off, the parent models
and supports independence.

Drop off time is not the right time for a teacher conference.
Drop off is a hectic time for teachers, and parents deserve a
teacher's undivided attention when discussing their children.
Teachers are usually very happy to schedule time for
parent/teacher conferences at times when they can devote enough
time to parent's concerns. Short e-mails to teachers addressing
questions and concerns are usually responded to promptly and
with insight and care.

Observe a Class Make an appointment with your child's teacher to
come into the classroom and observe a part or all of your
child's day. Observing the child's day allows parents to see the
classroom through the child's eyes and from the perspective of
the teacher. Classroom observation also tells the child that
his/her parent is interested and concerned.

Get Involved Make time to volunteer in the classroom or school.
Tutoring and chaperoning are great ways to keep a finger on the
pulse of the classroom. Volunteering time to the school helps
out the school and more importantly demonstrates to children
that education is of value.

Create and Follow a Dress Code to Keep the Focus on Learning
Follow the dress code of the school. If the school does not have
a dress code, parents can create and enforce an appropriate
dress code for the family. Many parents mandate that clothes
exposing the upper thighs or buttocks are not appropriate for
school. Tight shirts and low cut pants that expose the midriff
in any way are also not appropriate for school. The goal is to
place the focus on learning and studying not on personal attire.
Choose clothes and shoes that children can play, do arts and
crafts, run and sit on the floor.

Monitor What Children Bring To School Toys, video games,
electronics, trading cards etc. are not conducive to learning.
By monitoring what children bring to school and not allowing
children to bring distractions, parents help focus children on
learning. It is okay for parents to check backpacks.

Intervene When Appropriate and Be a Child's Advocate The
parents' first assumption should be that having chosen a quality
school with quality teachers, that their children will be
handled appropriately. Situations that arise with behavior,
difficulty with subject matter and social issues will in most
cases be dealt with professionally and skillfully by the
teacher(s).

There will be situations that come up when a parent must step in
as the child's advocate. Parents should listen to both the
teacher's take on the situation as well as the child's. Parents
should be wary of looking for a short term gain at the expense
of the long term lesson i.e.: by negotiating grades.

Create an Atmosphere that Supports Homework Completion Find out
what homework assignments have been given and when they are due.
Create a comfortable, well lit, quiet location for children to
sit and do homework. Be available for questions and assistance,
and make sure children complete homework.

Reading to children or with children should be a part of the
nightly homework assignment and bedtime ritual. Young children
can be held close and read to, or parents can take turns reading
to and being read to by older children. Nightly reading should
be for pleasure to teach a love of reading. Reading before
bedtime will encourage children to use their imaginations and
give them the necessary motivation to read for themselves.

Sick Kids Need to Stay in Bed Keep children at home if they are
exhibiting any symptoms that are contagious to others. Check
with school policy, but usually fevers, runny noses, vomiting,
and diarrhea are all symptoms that should keep children tucked
in bed for the day. If parents are vigilant the school stays
healthier throughout the year.

Make sure that the school has updated telephone numbers for
parents. Children feel more secure too if they memorize mom's or
dad's cell phone number even if they never need it.

Pack a Healthy Lunch that Delivers High Energy Foods Pack
lunches with healthy foods. Proteins and complex carbohydrates
like carrots, cheese, crackers, 100% fruit juice, turkey, sliced
fruit are all tasty items for a lunch and will give children
sustainable energy for the day.

Dinnertime is the Perfect Time for Discussing the Day Sitting
down to dinner as a family is a great way for parents to connect
with children and discover how the day went. Parents can ask
questions about school subjects, social interactions, successes
and concerns. The family meal should remain upbeat, warm and
loving, a haven for the family at the end of the day.

For instance, one mother discovered during dinner that her son
was having difficulty understanding the oral instructions for
completing reading exercises in a workbook. Knowing that her
child was a visual learner, she shot off a quick email to the
teacher requesting a visual demonstration of the material in
addition to the oral. This simple intervention, based on a
mealtime conversation, solved the problem quickly and alleviated
what could have been prolonged anxiety.

Parents should not feel intimidated by teachers and
administration and should be comfortable discussing their
concerns with the appropriate administrative staff. It is
beneficial to everyone to be compliant with school policy. By
following the above steps, parents can become an important part
of their child's educational experience, their child's advocate,
and feel included in the learning process. In addition, parents
will help make their child's educational experience a positive
and non-stressful one. Parents should remember that although
their child will be taught by many different teachers over the
course of their educational years, parents are ultimately the
child's most important teachers and role models.

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