by Carol Chandler-Wood
School has now begun and it is important to make sure your children start off in the best possible way. Regardless of your children’s grade level in school, following are several suggestions which you should find helpful to enable them to work more productively and successfully, thus increasing their chance of a successful school year:
- Studies have shown that parental involvement is the single most important factor in a child’s academic success. Students whose parents are involved have better grades, improved test scores and increased motivation. So, if possible, both parents should attend PTSA meetings, teacher conferences, after school events, etc. and both should oversee their education process.
- At the beginning of school, e-mail each of your children’s teachers giving them your e-mail address and phone numbers. Ask them to contact you if any situation should arise during the year that they feel warrants your attention. Let the teachers know that they have your support. Children generally do better in school when their parents encourage respect for the teacher’s authority and competence and when children see their parents and teachers as a united team working towards the same goals.
- Let your children know that in your home academics take priority over any other school related activities. Your children’s values take shape early on as to what is important. They have a keen eye for what you do and a sharp ear for what you say. With time, your children will absorb your views about school and your standards regarding education. Let them know it is a privilege earned to be allowed to participate in a club or be on an athletic team. I have known several parents who have walked onto the playing field and removed their child from practice when he/she did not make school work a priority. In each case, the student received a definitive message that mom and dad meant business, and, subsequently, the student worked harder towards academics and thus grades improved.
- Establish a study area for each of your children which is considered to be their very own. At this study area, have everything the student will need for academics; i.e., stapler, tape, paper, flashcards, pencils, pens, etc. I know it is redundant, but each child in the family would benefit by having their own set of supplies. This will help maintain harmony in your home, prove to be an efficient means of home study for everyone, and give all children ownership of their academics. Also, establish the best study time for each child, which will most likely be different for each.
- Instead of telling your children that when their homework is complete they can watch TV, use the computer, go outside to play, etc., give them a specific time limit each day in which they can do these things. Otherwise, they may rush through their homework and/or test preparation and do a poor job.
- Remember, it is not the actual letter grade that is most important. It is the level of effort and energy the student puts forth. Teaching you children to be responsible and accountable for their academics is most important. If your child does everything you observed possible to study and prepare for a test and the grade is a “C”, applaud their effort and remain positive. This is an opportunity for you to teach a life lesson about character which they will carry into later years.
Hopefully, by putting into practice these suggestions, each of your children will have an enjoyable and productive school year.