Going back to school can be an enjoyable and a valuable experience for children and parents. Follow these tips to make the most of your child’s school years by helping your child to succeed.
Nurture Reading in Your Home
School begins at home. In fact, school begins before a child can talk and walk. Buy your child books, traditional and electronic. These are the types of print he or she will be exposed to in school. If you have a young child, read to him or her. Talk about the pictures and the plot. As your child matures, ask questions that foster making connections. And ask questions that have no right or wrong answers: Which character is more like you? What lessons did you learn? How would the story be different if . . . ? Why do you like or dislike the book? How is this animal different or similar to . . . ? Questions like these develop critical thinking skills.
If your child is reluctant to read, I recommend you focus on buying or checking out award-winning books. You can find lists by genres at your public library. Your child’s school librarian can also recommend books. My son was a reluctant reader until I began buying him award winning books. Soon, he was hiding a flashlight under his pillow. When I said, "Lights out!" he would pretend to comply. Later he would pull the bed covers over his head, turn on his flashlight, and continue reading his book. I couldn't resist taking advantage of the situation. I would "fuss" at him about using the flashlight, but as I turned around to walk out of the room, I had a smile on my face. I had won. He was hooked. Today he is a grown man and still enjoys reading books.
Let your child see you read books. You are a role model.
Be Supportive of your Child’s Education
Reinforce what your child is learning in school by asking questions: What did you learn? Why do you think this is important?
Review your child’s homework. Discuss how the end product compares to the assignment instructions and/or rubric. This might mean having your child redo the homework.
Parent-teacher conferences should not be a Pandora’s Box. Communicate regularly with your child’s educators via emails, phone calls, online grade book, and/or classroom website.
Protect your child by asking him or her about relationships with other students and educators. Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Invite them over or schedule activities. Parents should be proactive. And sometimes, the older your child gets, the more strategically involved you must be. (They don’t always need to know how you are doing this.)
Be Supportive of your Child’s Education Team
Avoid talking negatively about your child’s teacher, counselor, and/or administrators. Meet with your child’s educators to ask questions or to discuss issues in which you need greater understanding. If your child hears you talking negatively about his or her educators, he or she might lose respect for them. Greater learning takes place when a child respects his or her educators. I recently read an article about parents being worried about the weighted grading system their local school district had just adopted. Before you begin a protest, learn more about it. Just because it’s new and different doesn’t mean it’s bad. Pick your battles wisely.
When you can no longer support your child’s educators and administrators, consider other school options. I must give you fair warning: The perfect school does not exist. A good time to consider other options is when school policies conflict with your religious convictions.
How have you facilitated learning in your child? This is the story in you. Share it.
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