Helping children do better in school is rooted in a simple truth: Parents wield the greatest influence on their children’s educational success.
With the new school year just begun, here are three key things that any parent can do to help children do their best at ever level, earn a high school diploma, and possibly go on to college:
Make sure they attend school every school day.
Missing class time leaves gaps in any student’s learning that can undercut their efforts severely. Save vacation for summertime or spring break!
Teach your children good classroom habits: When a teacher is teaching, focus attention on the teacher, not on something in your hands, or on other students or out the window.
Listen actively. That means when a teacher is teaching, listen to every word the teacher says. Prepare questions to ask if anything is unclear. Repeat to yourself (silently, of course) any key name, place, event, number, date, etc. that the teacher says. For example, if the teacher says: “Christopher Columbus discovered America in the year 1492,” repeat the date in your mind: “1492, 1492, 1492 …”
Make sure children get a good night’s sleep.
Classes begin early, and students whose rest time is too short – or interrupted by midnight Snapchats and texting alerts – will struggle to pay attention through a full class period.
Support homework success.
Make sure kids have a regular place to do their homework that is: quiet (no TV, radio, music or other noise), well-lighted, and well-equipped with supplies. Maximize “time on task” and your child will complete assignments satisfactorily.
Make sure your child is determined to conquer homework! This means working as quickly as possible, not by being sloppy or careless, but by concentrating, always concentrating. If you find yourself daydreaming or distracted, immediately refocus your attention on the task at hand – your homework.
Parents might try using a stopwatch (or the stopwatch app on your cell phone) to time how long it takes their child to do homework for each subject. Racing against the clock, with some minor reward on offer, will motivate them to work faster and avoid distractions.
Try having your student save his or her favorite subject till last. This will encourage them to do your other subjects faster. Praise your child when he or she wraps up homework with time to spare.
Parents don’t hesitate to share these ideas with relatives, friends, teachers, principals, school officials and anyone. Publishing them here is a start, but the best thing I can imagine would be for copies to be placed directly into parents’ hands at every Connecticut school.
Gerald A. Raczelowski is a retired teacher in Woodbury schools.