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Schoolwork – How to support your child's learning

March 2012

In past articles, I have encouraged parents, when confronting a particular issue with their child, to decide first who owns the problem and then to decide who should take responsibility for it.  In the case of school and the work associated with it, the child is definitely the one responsible.  Does this mean you should not be involved?  Definitely not.  To succeed in school, your child needs your support.  Education is a team effort.  The primary members of the team are the teachers, the child, and you.  The teacher’s job is to teach; the child’s job is to learn, and the parent’s job is to help the child be ready and able to learn.  When all three members of the team are working together, your child has the optimum chance to do his or her best.

How can you can do to help your child succeed in school?  Most of the ways you can help involve setting the stage and laying the groundwork, rather than doing the actual homework itself.  Indeed, that does not help in the long run.  But when you set the proper stage for learning, you will, at the same time, be more likely to raise a child who is happy, healthy, confident, cooperative, and responsible.

One of the first things you can do to help insure that your child will function well at school is to give him or her healthy food.   A healthy diet helps your child’s body and mind.  We would never expect a world class athlete or successful business person to do their best eating a diet of junk food.  Why would anyone think it helps a student?

It is a good idea for your child to get some exercise every day.  Exercise helps  children to develop their bodies and minds and helps them deal with stress. If you set a good example by following your own sensible exercise routine, your child is more likely to adopt one for themselves.  Walking and biking are inexpensive, readily available ways to exercise which can involve the whole family while you have fun at the same time.

Learning new things can be a difficult task, so be sure to build your child’s self esteem by giving him or her as much encouragement as you can.  Children who feel good about themselves are more eager to learn and easier to teach.  When you let them know they belong, can contribute, and are loved, it helps them say, “I can,” and “I will.”

Teaching responsibility at home will help build responsibility in school.   Having chores helps them to feel and be responsible family members.  Allowing them choices within limits and the opportunity to experience the results of their decisions also helps to teach them responsibility.

Another thing you can do to help your child succeed is to be involved with their school.  Meet your child’s teacher.  When the time comes for parent-teacher conferences, be sure to go to.  Whenever possible, take part in school activities.  Join the PTA.  Volunteer to be a class parent or to help with a school event.  The more you are involved in your child’s school, the more he or she will feel it is a worthwhile and important place to be.

If your child is having trouble at school, listen reflectively to learn more about what is going on with him or her.  Ask for your child’s teacher’s help and cooperation in getting needs met.  Above all, be encouraging.  Be aware of times you want to judge or criticize and find a way to show support instead.  In these ways, you can be assured you are doing your part as a responsible team member, helping to insure your child’s success in school and in life. 

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