What Can Parents Do?

What Can Parents Do?

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What Can Parents Do?

There are probably even more dedicated parents out there than dedicated students, since the first phone call at any of my radio or TV appearances comes from a sincere and worried parent asking, “What can I do to help my child do better in school?” Okay, here they are, the rules for parents of students of any age:

  1. Set up a homework area. Free of distraction, well lit, with all necessary supplies handy.
  1. Set up a homework routine. When and where it gets Studies have clearly shown that students who establish a regular routine are better organized and,as a result, more successful.
  1. Set homework priorities. Actually, just make the point that homework is the priority—before a date, before TV, before going out to play, whatever.
  1. Make reading a habit—for them, certainly, but also for you. Kids will inevitably do what you do, not what you say (even if you say not to do what you do).
  1. Turn off the TV. Or at the very least, severely limit when and how much TV watching is appropriate. This may be the toughest suggestion to enforce. I know.I was once the parent of a teenager.
  1. Talk to the teachers. Find out what your kids are supposed to be learning. If you don’t know the books they’re supposed to be reading, what’s expected of them in class, and how much homework they should be scheduling, you can’t really give them the help they need.
  1. Encourage and motivate, but don’t nag them to do their homework. It doesn’t work. The more you insist, the quicker they will tune you out.
  1. Supervise their work, but don’t fall into the trap of doing their homework. Checking (i.e., proofreading)
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a paper, for example, is a positive way to help your child in school. But if you simply put in corrections without your child learning from her mistakes, you’re not helping her at all…except in the belief that she is not responsible for her own work. 

  1. Praise them when they succeed, but don’t overpraise them for mediocre work. Kids know when you’re being insincere and, again, will quickly tune you out.
  1. Convince them of reality. (This is for older students.) Okay, I’ll admit it’s almost as much of a stretch as turn-ing off the TV, but learning and believing that the real world will not care about their grades, but will measure them by what they know and what they can do, is a lesson that will save many tears (probably yours). It’s probably never too early to (carefully) let your boy or girl genius get the message that life is not fair.
  1. If you can afford it, get your kid(s) a computer and all the software they can handle. There really is no avoiding it: Your kids, whatever their ages, absolutely must be computer-savvy in order to survive in and after school.
  1. Turn off the TV already!
  2. Get wired. The Internet is the greatest invention of our age and an unbelievable tool for students of any age. It is impossible for a student to succeed without the ability to surf online in this age of technology. They’ve got to be connected.
  1. But turn off IM (Instant Messaging) while doing homework. They will attempt to convince you that they can write a term paper, do their geometry home-work, and IM their friends at the same time. Parents who believe this have also been persuaded that the best study area is in front of the TV.
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