Parent Involvement in School: Why It Matters

September 7, 2015 by  
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If you have a child in school, you definitely know that it’s good to be an “involved parent.” While this is conventional wisdom, sometimes parents don’t understand why this is important, and they might not know exactly how to get involved.

Here are some ideas on what it means to get involved, and why it matters.

How to Get Involved

1. Help with homework

Pretty basic right?  You don’t always have to be on the school grounds to be involved. Helping your child with his or her homework puts you in a supportive role where you’re working with the teachers and the school to help your child achieve his or her educational goals. So sit down and help your child with homework, such as drilling spelling words or math facts.  You’ll be surprised, too, at how much you’ve forgotten from your own schooling over the years – not only will this help your kids, it’ll keep your own brain sharp too!

2. Volunteer

Sources say that even three hours of volunteer time in the classroom over the course of the school year (that’s right – three hours a year!) can make a big difference in academic performance. So see if you can be a “class parent” this school year, or find out if the library needs an assistant.  Just ask around.  And don’t be content with a “we’ve got all our volunteer slots filled already – be insistent until you find some place you can serve.

3. Other jobs in the school

Your child’s school probably has lots of activities and programs outside of simple academia. From music and sports to fundraisers, there’s almost always a need for parents to help out with these activities. Find out where your participation is needed, particularly in your child’s areas of interest.  A simple “I’m available for whatever needs to be done” will mean the world to a stressed out teacher, coach or administrator.

Why It Matters

All kinds of studies point to the positive effects of parental involvement in schools. Here are some specific ways in which your involvement matters.

1. Support

Your child is likely to feel supported if you’re around at school, especially if he or she is in grade school. Your involvement also shows support for the teachers and school in general. This goes a long way in helping kids apply themselves to their schoolwork.  Being involved tells your child and the teachers that you really care about education.

2. Communication

When you get involved in your child’s school, you’re helping to bridge the gap between your child’s school life and home life. It can open up doors for communication, because you have a better idea as to what’s going on at his or her school. Your child may feel less like you’re “out of touch” or “just don’t understand.”  You’ll better understand the conflicts that your child might be facing, get to know which friends they’re drawn to and see how the teachers interact with your child and other children.

3. Staying in school

Did you know that kids whose parents are involved in their school are more likely to stay in school? When you get involved, you’re helping to keep your child in school…and possibly others.  Not only that, your involvement might help to encourage another parent to be involved too.  That’s a great benefit.

So, give it a go.  Contact your child’s teacher or administrator and let them know you want to be involved.  You’ll love it!

Finding an Afterschool Routine

August 25, 2010 by  
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Finding an Afterschool Routine

Leaving homework, dinner schedules, and bedtimes to chance has a tendency to create chaos and frustration during possibly the only family time of the day. Establishing a routine does not have to mean never allowing for flexibility, but it gives parents and children alike the feeling of comfort that comes from knowing what is expected.

Children may begin to receive homework assignments as early as Kindergarten. Oftentimes in these early educational years, it falls to the parents to motivate children to finish their homework. Even in the later part of a child’s education, he or she may need structure and guidance. Some families choose the time directly after school to get homework done for the day. Others feel it may be better to allow children to decompress after a long day of concentration and constant social interaction. Should a child complete homework before or after dinner? The answer to that question depends upon the dinner, extracurricular activities, and bed times for each family. Determine which times are best for your child to sit down to homework. Once a routine is established, there should be less fighting about getting it done, fewer homework assignments turned in late, and happier parents and children.

A dinner schedule that works for the whole family is beneficial to everyone. Predictable meal times will encourage children to refrain from ruining their appetite with snacking. Children and parents should work together to put dinner on the table for a family meal. For some families that might mean one person either cooks or picks up food on the way home. Someone else then sets the table, and another family member fills drink cups.

Bedtime is another aspect of the afterschool routine that should be consistent. Younger students require more supervision and earlier bedtimes. Whether you incorporate a time for reading together or alone, children will benefit from an opportunity to lie quietly and cultivate the habit and skill of reading for pleasure.

Afterschool routines may change from year to year and from family to family as there are many factors involved such as age, siblings, and parents’ work schedules. Maintaining a consistent and reliable routine will give your child a feeling of stability during the formative years of his or her youth.

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Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt.com where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including a Back to School Planner, Homework Schedules, Calendars and many more and also of List Mama Blog: Lists for List-Lovin’ Mamas.

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Ways to Raise a Good Reader

May 11, 2010 by  
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Reading for children is an important part of their development. By developing their reading skills, your child will become better at spelling, understanding ideas and concepts and develop positive language skills early on.

Reading is also a lot of fun and a great bonding activity for parents and children. But how do you raise a good reader when you’re competing against a host of electronic devices?

Here are a few tips:

#1 – Read daily. Reading little and often is better than leaving large gaps of time between reading. By making reading a daily activity, you cement that reading is important and just a “part of life” in your child’s mind. Set a routine of a short bedtime story or a story after lunch or dinner each day so you don’t forget.

#2 – Visit the library. Many children today have never visited a library outside of school. There are so many other activities and things competing for your child’s attention that the library may be last on their list. But most kids respond positively to an outing at the library. Make visiting the library a regular activity and you’ll children will start to look forward to it.

The library can be a magical place for children and many have activities to help promote reading that are both fun and educational.

#3 – Start a book club. This can easily be done by joining forces with a few other parents. Meet weekly with the children to discuss a new book. This way the children not only see their parents getting involved, but also have the chance to develop grown-up conversational skills at the same time. Discuss the book and then enjoy a few treats; make it fun so that the kids really look forward to it.

#4 – Lead by example. If your kids see you reading from a young age, they may want to do the same thing mommy or daddy are doing. Show your kids that reading is a normal, fun part of life. Tell them about the latest book you’re reading and why you enjoy it. Show them the Sunday newspaper and explain how you learn what’s going on in the world by reading it.

#5 – Read at bedtime. As mentioned above, reading at bedtime is wonderful for both children and parents. It gives parents and kids a few minutes to connect at the end of each day. You can share a story and then discuss a few of the characters. Reading is a great way to unwind and will become a welcomed addition to your bedtime routine.

#6 – Let them choose. Reading tends to become less exciting as children grow. Give your children access to a variety of suitable reading materials to help them realize that reading is fun at any age. Whether it’s comics or “how to” books, by providing fun and informative reading material you’ll keep your child hooked and involved.

Another great option for older kids is to share their reading book with mom and dad. You can each read the same book together a few evenings a week. Your child can read one chapter out loud, then you read another and so on. This not only helps you spend time with your child but you get to enjoy a story together. There are some fantastic teenage mystery and action books that most young adults will really enjoy reading.

While raising a good reader may seem to be a harder job than it once was, it’s not too difficult a task. By exposing your children to books from a young age and creating an enthusiasm for reading, you’ll lead by example and help to raise a good future reader.

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Time Management = Team Work

October 2, 2009 by  
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Sports from childhood. Football (soccer) shown...
Image via Wikipedia

Another post in our Time Management Series:

Families these days can be busy. It may seem there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things your family wants to do. If this is the case with your family, it might help to know that time management equals team work.

To be sure everyone is able to meet the obligations they have, it’s important that the family work together rather than having the parents doing the majority of the work. There’s an old Scottish proverb that says “Many hands make light work because it is but little to everyone.” This means everyone in the family needs to chip in to get necessary household chores done so everyone can benefit.

Here are some other time management ideas to consider when your day is hurried from the time you get up until it’s time to go to bed.

* Make a list of everything your family does on a regular basis (sports practices, band practices, scouting, meetings, religious observances if applicable, volunteering, etc.).

* Transfer those activities onto a master calendar so you can see how busy your schedule is.

* Prioritize which activities are most important and let go of some that may not be as important. Activities that are most important are those things that are non-negotiable: sleeping, working, school, travel time to and from. Next in priority are the things you have to do: eating, taking care of pets, self-care, and chores. Finally, think about the things you’d like to do.

* Remember not to schedule something every minute of the day. This is over scheduling and could ultimately result in family members being burned out to the point of exhaustion. You may want to reserve one day a week for your family to rest and recuperate from the past week before heading full-speed ahead into the next.

Now that you know what your priorities are, you’ll be better equipped to ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them and when. Don’t expect to have the entire time management system worked out and running smoothly right from the start. It will take practice until the family is comfortable working together so it might be best to keep expectations low.

Teaching your children to become responsible adults, including learning how to do household chores, may not be the easiest thing you do. However, you’re training them to take care of their own belongings, respect and care for the belongings of others, and support one another. You want them to learn to put others ahead of themselves and to be able to work together for the good of the entire family.

Create a chore chart which shows what everyone is expected to do to help out. If a family chore chart is too confusing, create a chart for each person in the family or prepare “to do” lists for each person. Having these physical charts allow each one to know what to do and ensures that everyone is pitching in.

Remind everyone that the quicker you get done with what needs to be done, the sooner you’ll be able to get to each activity so each person can start enjoying their time. When it comes to family dynamics and getting to places on time, time management equals team work, and vice versa.

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Coping with Change – How to Help Kids Make Friends in a New School

September 1, 2009 by  
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A teacher writing on a blackboard.
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Wouldn’t we all like to make our kids’ lives magically full of friends and free of stress? Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for making the transition to a new school totally stress-free. But there are things we can do to help kids cope. Teaching them how to make friends can really help children adjust to a new place. Here are some strategies for helping your kids in a new school.

1. Meet the teacher ahead of time

If it’s practical, arrange a meeting with your child’s new teacher before the first day of class. Most teachers are glad to do this, and if your child sees a familiar person in his teacher, he will feel more relaxed. See if the prospective teacher will meet you both for lunch, or come to your home for a meal. More than one meeting is even better.

2. Visit the school before class begins

Take a tour of the school to get familiar with the layout and possibly meet some of the students. If it’s summer, there may be an official orientation for new students; but it’s better to go as a family or with a parent in a no-pressure visit. Your child will feel a lot less overwhelmed if she knows where her locker, the bathroom, and her classroom are going to be.

3. Keep lines of communication open

Your child needs to feel safe in discussing social problems and joys with you. If you and your child never talk about such things, you may think everything is just fine when it is not. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and let your child know you are asking because you want to help.

4. Teach basic social skills

It’s easy to take these skills for granted, but your child may not know these things – especially if you have never gone over them. Teach him to look people in the eye, to shake hands, to answer when spoken to, and to introduce himself. Also teach specifics about being a good listener, such as not interrupting and making eye contact while another is speaking. These are skills that will serve your child well in school and in the future.

You can arrange play dates and meetings to teach these things, and take advantage of ones that happen along the way, such as the grocery checkout clerk or the mailman. Keep it relaxed and easy, even game-like at times, because high-pressure situations forced on your child will only make him more anxious.

5. Encourage some group activities

There’s no need to overwhelm your child with a dozen extracurricular activities. But finding something your child can do with others can help socialization. Find out what groups are available at your child’s school – it does not have to be a sport, or a large, organized group (although those are fine). Find something that suits your child’s personality and needs.

Teach and practice socialization, talk to your child about how she’s doing, and the transition to a new school will be more a time of excitement than one of stress.

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