Parenting can be a struggle: balancing work and family time in today’s fast-paced world takes much practice and parenting a school-age child can be an even bigger challenge. Juggling homework, behavior issues, parent-teacher conferences along with your other parenting duties can really put a strain on the most organized family. Here are just a few tips to help alleviate some of the strain on you as the parent while still helping your child achieve their best in school.
1. Communicate with your child’s teachers.
Most parents know the name of their child’s teacher but how many times have you actually spoken to your child’s teacher? It is very important that as a parent you keep the lines of communication open between you and the teacher. Keep in mind that your child’s teacher has 15-25 students that they are responsible for during the eight hours that they are at school. If you son/daughter is in middle-school or high school, their teachers have 120 to 150 students that they are responsible for teaching. So there may be times when your child’s teacher will not make the first attempt at contacting you, unless or until there is a problem with grades or behavior. Please do not wait, contact your child’s teacher and set up a short (15 minute) appt to make sure that you, your child and their teacher are doing everything possible to help you child succeed.
2. Know what your child should be learning this year.
This step is very important. Most states have a set of standards and objectives that each county is required to teach in each subject for each grade level. It is important to know what your child should be learning or covering this year for many reasons. If you know what is expected of your child you can help by finding outside resources, books, websites and other tools to help your child grasp the concepts they are being taught at school. Also, being familiar with your state’s standards will help you understand why your child’s teacher may assign certain types of projects or homework. It will also give you a clue as to whether your child’s teacher is covering what needs to be covered in classroom lectures, discussions and projects. Knowing what is expected helps you appear knowledgeable if the need may arise for you to confront the board of education over an issue like too much homework or raising students’ test scores.
To find out more about your state’s education standards, be sure to visit your state’s Department of Education website. They will have a link to their education standards or their curriculum expectations. If you can not find them on the web then contact your child’s school and ask about receiving a copy of the state standards for your child’s grade level.
3. Set aside discussion time everyday.
One of the most important things we can do to effect our child’s education is to instill and maintain the importance of education to our children. One way to help impart that to your child is to have a discussion time everyday about what your child is learning in school and their day in general. This does not have to take up an hour it can simply be a few minutes to find out how their day went. You can do this in the car on the way to practice or at the dinner table. These short discussions about your child’s day may give you great insight as to why your child can not focus in a certain class or why they like a certain subject or class better than others, as well as the type of friends they have and the issues they are facing. Your attention and interest will not go void-when they are older they will remember how important and loved it made them feel when they talked to you about their day at school.
4. Watch what you say in front of your child.
“Little Pictures Have Big Ears,” and will soak up what you say. As an educator and a mother it really surprised me how disrespectful some children are to their teachers and their parents for that matter (that’s a different article). If there is one thing I can stress to you about your relationship with your child’s teacher it is: please-no matter what your issues are with the teacher- try not to discuss their downfalls while in front of your child. Even the smallest derogatory phrase can seem like a bright, beaming, green light to a child to lose all respect for the teacher. Once this occurs it will be a bumpy ride through out the school year, for every person involved. Not to mention it can make for a very awkward parent-teacher conference when your child says, “…but Mom, you said she must be an idiot to assign that project!” So if you have questions or issues with your child’s teacher, take it up with the teacher, principal or other administrator but make sure that you do so away from your child’s ears.
5. Set up routines for your child.
Children are somewhat, creatures of habit. Even the most creative, spirited child needs routines and structure when it comes to school. For some children school itself is a struggle, so why add to the chaos at home? They need to get their rest, eat well and have as little conflict in the mornings before they get to school. To accomplish these tasks you will have to setup realistic routines for your child. Set up morning, afternoon and bedtime routines early in the school year for the best outcome however, it is never too late to start. Make sure to turn the television, computers, and video games off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. (This allows time for your child to wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.) Another activity to include in a daily routine for your child is to schedule in about 20-30 minutes of discussion time about their day as well as setting up “homework” or “study” time every school day.
Sherry Pence is a wife, mother, educator and freelance writer. She is the owner of SSP Life Lessons and creator of http://www.womansguide.net/writingservices.html ,
http://daycareteachers.wordpress.com as well as http://womansguide.wordpress.com. Visit these sites for more tips on parenting, weight loss and education.
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