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44 Proven Ideas Parents Can Use to Help Their Children Do Better in School

DadSonReadingMaking Time Count

1. Put specific times on your calendar each week when you will spend time with your children. During that time, focus your love and attention on your child.

2. Use car time to talk with your children. There’s no phone or television to interfere. No one can get up and leave. And kids know they really have your ear.

3. Plan to eat at least one meal together as a family each day.

4. Look for things to do together as a family. Get everyone involved in choosing how to spend your time together.

5. Try giving children television tickets. Each week, each child gets 20 tickets. Each ticket can be used for 30 minutes of TV time. Any tickets remaining at the end of the week can be cashed in for 25 cents each. Parents can still veto a certain program, of course.

Reading to Your Child

6. Try relaxing your family’s bedtime rules once a week on the weekends. Let your children know that they can stay up as late as they want, as long as they are reading in bed.

7. Help your child start a home library; paperback books are fine. Encourage your child to swap books with friends. Check used book stores. Give books as gifts.

8. Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read.

9. Try holding D-E-A-R times at your house. “DEAR” stands for “Drop Everything and Read.” During DEAR time, everyone in the family sits down for some uninterrupted reading time.

10. With young children, try reading to them during bath time.

11. Use the “Rule of Thumb” to see if a book is on your children’s reading level: Have them read a page of the book aloud. Have them hold up one finger for each word they don’t know. If they hold up four fingers and a thumb before the end of the page, the book is probably too hard for them to read alone. But it might be a great book to read aloud.

Building Self-Esteem

12. Have children make a “book” about themselves, with their own illustrations and wording. “A Book About Me” is a great way to help your child see themselves as “somebody.”

13. Help your child discover their roots by talking with family members during holiday and other visits.

14. Constantly look for ways to tell your children what you like about them, and that you love them. There is no age limit on this. “When I do something well, no one ever remembers. When I do something wrong, no one ever forgets.” Those words were written by a high school dropout.

15. Let kids overhear you praising them to others.

16. Try “King/Queen for a Day” for good report cards.

17. Help kids learn from problems, not be devastated by them. Many parents don’t ever use the word “failure.” They may talk about a “glitch,” a “problem,” or a “snag.” But even when something doesn’t work out as they’d planned, successful people try to learn something from the experience.

Discipline

18. In good weather, put two angry kids on opposite sides of a strong window or glass door. Provide each with a spray bottle of window cleaner and a rag. Then let them “attack.” Their angry words will turn to laughter…and your window or door will be clean!

19. Try role playing to eliminate constant fighting. For five minutes, have the fighters switch roles. Each has to present the other person’s point of view as clearly and fairly as possible. Odds are, they’ll start laughing and make up. Better yet, they may come up with a compromise solution that both parties like.

20. For better discipline, speak quietly. If you speak in a normal tone of voice, even when you’re angry, you’ll help your child see how to handle anger appropriately. And if you don’t scream at your kids, they’re less likely to scream at each other or at you.

21. Try a “black hole” to keep toys and other belongings picked up. All you need is a closet or cabinet with a lock—the “black hole.” When something is left out that should be put away, it gets put into the “black hole” for 24 hours. Once a favorite toy or something your child needs is locked up for 24 hours, there is greater incentive to keep it where it belongs. This works best when the whole family participates.

Solving School Problems

22. Try looking over children’s study materials and making up a sample quiz as they study for upcoming tests.

23. Visit your child’s school in a time of peace before major problems develop.

24. Make report cards a positive experience. Preparation: Ask, “What do you think your report card will tell us?” Getting ready is helpful. Perspective: Understand that a report card is just one small measure of your child. A child with poor grades still has plenty of strengths. Positive action: Find something to praise. Focus on how to improve.

25. Be aware that your attitudes about school affect your child. If you hated math, be careful not to prejudice your child.

Motivating Your Child

26. In addition to the three R’s, children need the four A’s: Attention, Appreciation, Affection, and Acceptance.

27. Some researchers believe every child is gifted, if we will just look for the ways. Helping children see their giftedness is very motivating.

28. Encourage children to read biographies about successful people. As children learn about the traits that made others successful, they are often motivated to adopt those same success patterns in their own lives.

29. Motivate your children in math by challenging them to figure out how much change you should get back from a purchase. If they get the amount right, they get to keep the change.

30. Praise children constantly.

Building Responsibility

31. Try a simple cardboard box to help make your children responsible for school belongings. Have them choose a place for the box, perhaps near the door or in their room. Every afternoon, their first task should be to place all belongings in the box. When homework is finished, it goes in the box, too. In the morning, the box is the last stop before heading out the door.

32. Help children understand, and take responsibility for, the consequences of their choices: “I chose to do my homework; the result was that I got an ‘A’ on my math test.” “I chose to get up 15 minutes late; the result was that I missed breakfast and nearly missed the bus.”

33. Try giving your child the responsibility of growing a small garden, even in just a flower pot. The positive and negative results of carrying out their responsibilities are very clear.

34. One way to keep children moving in the morning: After they wake up, begin to play their favorite CD. Give them until the CD plays through to get dressed for school.

Reinforcing Learning

35. Encourage kids to collect things. Whether they collect rocks, shells, leaves, or bugs is not important. By collecting, children are learning new ways to make sense of their world.

36. Estimating is an important math skill. We estimate how much our groceries will cost. We estimate how much time we’ll need to complete a project at work. You can help your child learn to estimate at home. Here’s one idea: As you’re driving, estimate the distance to your destination. Then estimate how much time it will take to get there. Use the odometer or a map to check your work.

37. Talk about geography in terms children can understand: Go through your house and talk about where things came from. A calculator may have come from Taiwan. A box of cereal may have a Battle Creek, Mich., address, or White Plains, N.Y. Talk about where the wheat for your bread came from. Where was the cotton for your blue jeans grown? Tell your children where your ancestors came from. Find the places on a map.

38. Show your child that writing is useful. Have them help you write a letter ordering something, asking a question, etc. Then show them the results of your letter.

Homework

39. Try playing “Beat the Clock” with your child during homework time. Look over the assignment and figure out about how long it should take to complete it. Allow a little extra time and set a timer for that many minutes. No prizes are needed. There is great satisfaction in getting the work done on time.

40. Teach your child to use the formula “SQ3R” when doing any homework assignment. The letters stand for a proven five-step process that makes study time more efficient and effective: Survey, Question, Read, Restate, and Review.

41. Here are tips to make homework time easier for you and your child:

  • Have a regular place for your child to do homework. Use a desk or table in a quiet room. Be sure there’s plenty of light.
  • Find a regular time for homework. You may want to make a rule: “No television until homework is finished.”
  • During homework time, turn off the TV and radio.
  • Help your children plan how they will use their time.
  • Set a good example. While your child is doing homework, spend some time reading or working yourself. Then when homework is done, you can both talk about how much you’ve accomplished.

42. Nitty gritty homework tips:

  • Do the most difficult homework first. Save “easy” subjects for when your child is tired.
  • Do the most important assignments first. If time runs short, the priorities will be finished. Do what’s required first.
  • Finish the optional assignments later, even if they’re more fun.

43. Look over your child’s homework every day. Start at an early age and keep it up as long as you can. Praise good work. Your interest will encourage good work.

44. Try having your child teach you the homework. The teacher always learns more than the student.

Author: Dr. John H. Wherry. 
Source: The Parent Institute.

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Bright ideas from our readers: Homework help

GreatSchools’ readers share their ideas for avoiding battles on the homefront over homework.

Is homework a struggle at your house? You’re not alone. Many parents have been there and wrote to share their advice about what helped end the homework battles with their kids.

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Establish a Routine

Many parents say setting a regular time and routine for homework is crucial.

Making homework a habit:

One parent of a fifth-grader writes: “We pick up our son from school and immediately sit down at the kitchen island to open the backpack, eat a snack and immediately start the homework.

“Our son has been doing this routine since he was in the first grade. As such, on rare occasion when a friend comes home with us after school, the friend has said, ‘Bobby, what do you want to do?’ My son responds, ‘Well, we can do anything but not until we get our homework done.’ If ever a routine has established a pattern, this is it.

“One day we were talking about colleges and we said that sometimes you can choose which days to attend classes in college, like Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and when you want to take class, like in the morning or afternoon, or evening. His comment was, ‘If I did my homework right after class, then I am free to do whatever I want?’

“Let’s hope this thinking pattern for homework is for a lifetime.”

Five simple rules:

“Consistency is the key. Stick with a homework routine,” another parent writes in sharing rules that worked for her:

  1. Establish a daily routine.
  2. Structure after-school activities to allow for homework at a set time every day.
  3. Stick to the routine so your child will know what is expected.
  4. Stay organized and keep homework area free from clutter, noise and distractions, such as television, games and radio.
  5. Praise your child when the homework is complete and allow free time after homework time is over.

Vary the Scene

Other parents said changing the scene helped their children focus, particularly as kids get older.

Study in a cafe:

An Illinois mother of a sixth-grade boy and eighth-grade girl writes: “When homework becomes a dreaded chore, I find new places to go and do homework, for instance, Starbucks, the library, a cafe. It’s interesting to find that when you offer up a new place to study, homework appears where they said there was none.”

Make the library your home base:

“One thing I have done is to take them to the library to do their homework,” writes a Colorado mother of three boys, 12, 16 and 20. “There are no distractions from home, and they can focus just on the task at hand. Plus, there are all the available resources we need there. It is especially helpful to get a study room when we can. That way, we can talk and study things without disturbing anyone. The library we go to has white boards in the study rooms, which we have used occasionally just for something different (doing spelling words on it instead of writing them on paper, for example). This seemed to also break up the monotony of the homework ordeal. An added bonus is that our library has a coffee shop inside with Italian sodas, etc. This can be used as an incentive!”

HELP WITH TIME MANAGEMENT

Break projects into manageable chunks:

“If there is a project due, we separate it into how much time we have and then do a little each day,” one mom writes. “We do the same for a book report. I count the number of pages and divide it by the number of days they have to read it and give them two days to write it. We do a ‘sloppy copy’ and we do a final draft. …”

Build in breaks:

A California mom of a kindergartner writes: “Have short time frames planned out. Kids get restless without breaks. Maybe 15 minutes of work, then a three-minute break.

“Remove any distraction – TV, snacks, cell calls, don’t let them think they are missing out on anything by doing homework.

“Reward them if they are focused on any given day.

“Talk about homework as if it is a natural part of your schedule. “Don’t say, ‘You have to do homework first.’ It becomes too much of a task. Say, ‘OK, it’s homework time. Let’s get started.’ Always start (at the) same time every day. In that way, they feel it’s just what you do, there are no options!”

HELP YOUR CHILD IDENTIFY WHAT WORKS 

A trick to stay focused:

“I let my 7-year old daughter chew gum while she does her homework,” says a Washington, D.C., mom. “She says it keeps her ‘focused.'”

REWARD A JOB WELL DONE 

Star system:

“I have a 10-year-old that sits right down the minute she gets home and does all her homework. Unfortunately, the same is not true of our 7-year-old,” a mom writes. “We tried nagging, taking away privileges to no avail. Homework was a chore and stressful for all of us. Until we devised the star system. He has 30 minutes to finish his homework (they are given about 10-15 minutes worth of homework). Neatness and correct spelling count. If he beats the clock, he gets a star. He must get all five stars that week for the reward to take place. Once he has five stars he can pick anything he wants to do, and the whole family has to come along. Our weekends are now occupied with bowling, mountain biking, eating at his favorite hamburger place and the homework woes are behind us.”

Use healthy activity as a reward:

“Homework has been a breeze with one of mine but with the other it has been an unbelievable uphill battle, especially this year,” writes a single mother of three daughters, two of them school age.

“Our town just built an indoor pool and since it is winter in Vermont, swimming at this time of year is considered ‘awesome’ by all three of the kids. So, we set up a reward program: Every night that they can show me that they have completed their homework while at the after-school program or did as much as the people there could help them with, then we will grab a quick sandwich at home and swim for about two hours before the pool closes. Either one whose homework was not done due to lack of genuine effort has to come and just sit on the pool deck to do their homework while the sisters and I swim. This has worked like a charm!

“Find a good, wholesome activity that your kid really likes and that you know you can commit to every night if your kid lives up to their end of the bargain, then make it contingent upon their completion of homework (or for older kids, hard work on it for a set amount of time). If they can’t do the activity because they did not do their part, they have no one to blame but themselves, right?”

TURN WORK INTO A GAME 

Beat the clock:

Our son has yet to get real homework, but he does math and reading practice work,” an Oregon mother of a six-year-old writes. “There are many times that he tries to complain and get out of it. A good tool is using stop watches for math. Boys like being challenged and to beat their previous time. …

“We also try to divide some of the homework (on weekends), half in the morning, the other half at night (reading is good at night and for 30 minutes). It also helps if mom/dad or sibling is sitting too, doing their homework or busy work at the same time to show that he/she is not the only one who has to do something.”

Be Available

Many readers emphasized the importance of being available to help, even though it can be a challenge for a busy parent to carve out time every day to do so.

Make the kitchen table a homework center:

A Connecticut mother of two, ages 9 and 13, says talking to her children about homework is valuable for them – and for her. “I give my kids a snack with a drink while doing their homework. Also I sit at the table, discuss it with them. They like to share their homework with me and I also have learned from them …When they have a test coming up in school we play a game out of their studying to make sure they know the material for the test…”

Do your own “homework” at the same time:

“I find that it is helpful to let my daughter have her snack after school, watch a little television and unwind from the long day before I have her start her homework,” writes a single Arizona mom of a 7-year-old. “I also take time from my busy schedule to sit with her and either read or do my bills so that she understands it is quiet time. She doesn’t feel so bad if she’s not the only one concentrating on something. Believe me, not all days are so easy!”

Helping a child with ADD:

“My tips are certainly not new, but they have been very instrumental in helping my son with ADD do his homework,” writes a mother who describes herself as a “military mom on the move.” “We have learned that giving short breaks help along with allowing the child to pick what subject they want to tackle first. Giving your child options lets them feel more in control of their surroundings, which in turn creates a better work environment. This would be great for all kids, not just children who have a hard time focusing. I also recommend setting time aside for your child, in case they need help. I make sure I sit in the same room with my child and can get to him quickly when he gets frustrated or needs help.

“I also have a child who needs no help with homework. Don’t take this for granted. Always ask what they are doing, if it is difficult and if they like a certain subject or not. This may help eliminate surprises when it is time for progress reports/ reports cards to be sent home.”

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When Our Child Is Struggling at School

lead_960It can be discouraging to learn that our kids are struggling academically. Don’t wait for the problem to work are some practical steps toward helping:itself out — act now. Here are some advice you may want to follow:

  • Meet with teachers. Ask questions, listen and take notes.
  • Research problem areas, and learn how you can provide practice and structure. Most academic struggles can be alleviated by consistent practice in the home.
  • Most school will give home revision and tests. Check it daily. When needed, follow up with teachers via email or their school dairy.
  • Set up a reward system that you develop together with your tween. Follow through and make sure to celebrate successes.

When parents and teachers unite, students have the best chance to experience academic success.

Claim your FREE 2-hours Maths Coaching Session to learn how we can benefit your child’s future.

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Working with Teachers

We often get on guard when it comes to our child’s welfare in school. Often than not, we expect the best and the teacher to know all. Let’s review ourselves as parents.

A successful school year begins with teamwork — between you, your child and your child’s teachers. As your child heads back to school, consider these suggestions for building a positive, collaborative relationship with his teachers:

  • Treat the teacher as an expert. Be positive in your attitude and approach, making it a habit to contact the teacher under positive circumstances. Showing up only when you want to discuss a problem can push a teacher into defensive mode as soon as you walk through the door.
  • When discussing your child, start many of your questions with, “What can I do? . . .” Let the teacher know you and your child are taking responsibility for learning.
  • Recognize that there are practical limitations on what the teacher can do. If your child needs to follow a certain system for keeping track of homework, create the paperwork yourself so that the teacher needs to only fill in a few blanks.
  • Don’t rely solely on the information you get from your child about a particular incident. Naturally, your personal loyalty rests with your child, but do your best to look at the situation objectively and see it through the eyes of the teacher.
  • Discuss the conversations you have with the teacher openly with your child. Emphasize the positive areas that you and the teacher discussed, and brainstorm how to use those strengths to improve in other areas.
  • Help your child understand and value a variety of teaching methods. Every teacher is a lesson in learning. By helping your child appreciate the unique styles of different teachers, you’ll prepare him to use his strengths to cope with life’s many other differences.

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