We’ve all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. If this is true, it follows that collaboration between our “village members” is at the root of success for our children.
When Schools, communities and Parents join forces for the good of children, their odds of success improve exponentially. It all begins at home where parents set the standards and compass. However, as children leave the nest, extended family, faith programs, schools, clubs and community programs all begin to have an increasing role in the raising of our children. No one can do it alone and collaboration can be the key to helping kids do well; that’s certainly true when it comes to academic success. A child’s day begins and ends at home, so academic life must recognize that and parents and schools need to partner for children’s success. Parent support can make all the difference.
Kidshealth.org published an article Reviewed by: Kathryn Hoffses, PhD, listing 10 ways parents can put their kids on track to be successful students.
We have adopted this and offer the following 10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed at Barnstead Elementary School
1. Attend Open House and Parent-Teacher Conferences
Kids do better in school when parents are involved in their academic lives. Attending the Barnstead Open House at the start of the school year is a great way to get to know your child’s teachers and their expectations. We have found this visit can reduce student jitters and open lines of communication for parents and teachers.
Attending Parent-Teacher conferences is another way to stay informed. These are held twice a year, in October and January at the trimester progress reporting periods. The conferences are a chance to start or continue conversations with your child’s teacher, and discuss strategies to help your child do his or her best in class. Meeting with the teacher also lets your child know that what goes on in school will be shared at home.
If your child has special learning needs, additional meetings can be scheduled with teachers and other school staff to consider setting up or revising individualized education plans (IEPs), 504 education plans, or gifted education plans.
Keep in mind that parents or guardians can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counselors, or other school staff any time during the school year.
2. Visit the School and Its Website
Knowing the physical layout of the school building and grounds can help you connect with your child when you talk about the school day. It’s good to know the location of the main office, school nurse, cafeteria, gym, athletic fields, playgrounds, auditorium, and special classes.
On the school website (www.barnstead.k12.nh.us) , you can find information about:
the school calendar
staff contact information
upcoming events like class trips
Teachers maintain their own websites that detail homework assignments, test dates, and classroom events and trips. Special resources for parents and students are also usually available on the district, school, or teacher websites.
3. Support Homework Expectations
Homework in grade school reinforces and extends classroom learning and helps kids practice important study skills. It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility and a work ethic that will benefit them beyond the classroom.
In addition to making sure your child knows that you see homework as a priority, you can help by creating an effective study environment. Any well-lit, comfortable, and quiet workspace with the necessary supplies will do. Avoiding distractions (like a TV in the background) and setting up a start and end time can also help.
A good rule of thumb for an effective homework and/or study period is roughly 10 minutes per elementary grade level. Fourth-graders, for example, should expect to have about 40 minutes of homework or studying each school night. If you find that it’s often taking significantly longer than this guideline, talk with your child’s teacher.
While your child does homework, be available to interpret assignment instructions, offer guidance, answer questions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the correct answers or complete the assignments yourself. Learning from mistakes is part of the process and you don’t want to take this away from your child. BES is a Google Classroom school, so sending an email to your teacher anytime you have a question is a great way to communicate.
4. Send Your Child to School Ready to Learn
A nutritious breakfast fuels up kids and gets them ready for the day. In general, kids who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Kids who eat breakfast also are less likely to be absent, and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger.
You can help boost your child’s attention span, concentration, and memory by providing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein, as well as low in added sugar. If your child is running late some mornings, send along fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Kids also need the right amount of sleep to be alert and ready to learn all day. Most school-age kids need
10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Bedtime difficulties can arise at this age for a variety of reasons. Homework, sports, after-school activities, TVs, computers, and video games, as well as hectic family schedules, can contribute to kids not getting enough sleep. TVs, computers, and video games should never be in a child’s bedroom.
Lack of sleep can cause irritable or hyperactive behavior and might make it hard for kids to pay attention in class. It’s important to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on school nights. Be sure to leave enough time before bed to allow your child to unwind before lights out and limit stimulating diversions like TV, video games, and Internet access.
5. Teach Organizational Skills
When kids are organized, they can stay focused instead of spending time hunting things down and getting sidetracked.
What does it mean to be organized at the elementary level? For schoolwork, it means having an assignment book and homework folder to keep track of homework and projects.
Check your child’s assignment book and homework folder every school night so you’re familiar with assignments and your child doesn’t fall behind. This also helps to underscore the importance of routine for your child and to establish accountability.
Set up a bin for papers that you need to check or sign. Also, keep a special box or bin for completed and graded projects and toss papers that you don’t need to keep.
Talk to your child about keeping his or her school desk orderly so papers that need to come home don’t get lost. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help stay organized.
It’s also helpful to teach your child how to make a to-do list to help prioritize and get things done. It can be as simple as: Homework, soccer, put clothes away,…
No one is born with great organizational skills — they need to be learned with modeling, practice and accountability.
6. Teach Study Skills
Studying for a test can be scary for young kids. Introducing your child to study skills now will pay off with good learning habits throughout life.
In elementary school, kids usually take end-of-unit tests in math, spelling, science, and social studies. Be sure to know when a test is scheduled so you can help your child study ahead of time rather than just the night before. You can do this by…..
You also might need to remind your child to bring home the right study materials, such as notes, study guides, or books.
Teach your child how to break down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks so preparing for a test isn’t overwhelming. You also can introduce your child to tricks like mnemonic devices to help with recalling information. Most of us learned our colors of the spectrum by learning the mnemonic imaginary rainbow man; ROY G. BIV. By remembering his name we learned the order of the spectrum was: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You can have fun with your child as you come up with rhymes, catchy songs or silly sayings to memorize information for tests.
Remember that taking breaks is an important way to help kids process and remember information. Younger children will need more frequent breaks as older children will be able to maintain concentration for longer periods. Even by middle school, children should aim to take a ten minute break every 45 minutes or so.
Your child will be introduced to standardized testing in elementary school. While students shouldn’t study for standardized tests it’s important that parents know when testing is taking place so they can be sure their child comes to school well rested and prepared for the day.
In general, if the prospect of standardized testing or studying and testing becomes a source of stress for your child, discuss the situation with your child’s teacher or our school counselor.
7. Know the Disciplinary Policies
Schools usually cite their disciplinary policies (sometimes called the student code of conduct) in student handbooks. The rules cover expectations, and consequences for not meeting the expectations, for things like student behavior, dress codes, use of electronic devices, and acceptable language.
The policies may include details about attendance, vandalism, cheating, fighting, and weapons. Many schools also have specific policies about bullying. It’s helpful to know the school’s definition of bullying, consequences for bullies, support for victims, and procedures for reporting bullying.
It’s important for your child to know what’s expected at school and that you’ll support the school’s consequences when expectations aren’t met. It’s easiest for students when school expectations match the ones at home, so kids see both environments as safe and caring places that work together as a team.
8. Get Involved
Whether kids are just starting kindergarten or entering their last year of elementary school, there are many good reasons for parents to volunteer at school. It’s a great way for parents to show they’re interested in their kids’ education.
Many grade-schoolers like to see their parents at school or at school events. But follow your child’s cues to find out how much interaction works for both of you. If your child seems uncomfortable with your presence at the school or with your involvement in an extracurricular activity, consider taking a more behind-the-scenes approach. Make it clear that you aren’t there to spy — you’re just trying to help out the school community.
9. Take Attendance Seriously
Sick kids should stay home from school if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. Young children who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don’t seem to be acting “themselves” also might benefit from a sick day as a first step.
Sometimes students want to stay home from school because of problems with classmates, assignments or grades, or even teachers. This can result in real symptoms, like headaches or stomachaches. If you think there’s a problem at school, talk with your child — and then perhaps with the teacher — to find out more about what’s causing the anxiety. The school counselor or school psychologist also might be able to help.
Otherwise, it’s important that kids arrive at school on time every day, because having to catch up with class work and homework can be stressful and interfere with learning. If your child is missing a lot of school due to illness, make sure to check with the teacher about any work that needs to be completed. It’s also a good idea to know the school’s attendance policy.
Also try to avoid late bedtimes, which can result in tardy and tired students. A consistent sleep schedule also can help students.
10. Make Time to Talk About School
It’s usually easy to talk with elementary students about what’s going on in class and the latest news at school. You probably know what books your child is reading and are familiar with the math being worked on. But parents can get busy and forget to ask the simple questions, which can have an effect on children’s success at school.
Make time to talk with your child every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they’ll take school seriously as well.
Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your child can influence how well your child listens and responds. It’s important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you talk. Be sure to ask questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” answers and then let your child go. A good rule of thumb is to listen twice as much as you talk, but remember, you may need to prompt the conversation.
Besides during family meals, good times to talk include car trips (though eye contact isn’t needed here, of course and may even help some children bring up topics they find awkward), walking the dog, preparing meals, or standing in line at a store. These are also great opportunities to tickle your child’s curiosity and imagination. As your child to count the number of rows in the grocery aisle or ask your child, if you could be any food in the store what would you be? You would be amazed at what you can learn from silly prompts and conversations about day to day activities.
THE BOTTOM LINE
These early years of schooling are an important time for parents to be informed and supportive about their child’s education and to set the stage for children to develop and grow as young learners. If you have questions about how you can help your child thrive and achieve, we encourage you to contact your child’s teacher, or reach out to a member of our administration or counseling team. We are here for your children, which mean we are here for you.