One of the most important things is that your child sees from YOU that their school work is important. When you ask your child about school (and you should), don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t say much. Keep asking. This SHOWS your child that school is important to you, as the parent. This doesn’t take a lot of time or preparation… ask them when riding in the car, for instance (when they can’t get away).
Another important thing that parents need to do is to look in their child’s assignment pad/folder. Ask your child about each thing that is written down and ask them to show you their work. Have your child explain what they did on their homework and what it was about. You may just learn something too!
A third important thing that every parent should do is look over returned/corrected work and other items sent home from school. Look at your child’s grades so that you have some idea of what to expect on progress reports and report cards. Look for notes from the teacher and about events going on at school.
Contact your child’s teacher. Ask questions. Make sure that you understand routines and expectations so that you know what your child is supposed to be doing and so you can reinforce what the teacher is doing from home. Attend open house and back to school night so that you know what to expect. If your child isn’t forthcoming with information when you ask, ask the teacher. If you find that your child has no homework day after day and nothing is sent home from school, chances are you are missing something. You and your child’s teacher are on on the same team. You both want your child to learn and be successful. Work together to accomplish this.
Ask your child to show you where they keep their notes for school. If your child is struggling with their math homework, they should be looking in their notes and using them as a resource for help and reminders. After seeing your child’s notes, keeping tabs on homework and attempting to help your child review, if there is still a problem, contact the teacher for some suggestions.
Look at the school’s website. Many teachers have online newsletters with homework posted, study tips and other valuable information available.
Read to your child. Even older children enjoy this. You can take turns reading out loud to each other. Reading to your child is probably the single most important thing a parent can do to prepare their young child for school and to instill a love of reading and learning in any age child. This is so important! After third grade, children begin to read for information, and are no longer reading to simply learn to read. If you child cannot read well enough when this transition is made, its likely they will struggle in every subject (science, social studies, etc.) and not just reading.
Look over your child’s work as they are doing their homework. Your child needs to see from you it is important to always do one’s best on their work. Practice “tough love” in this department. Expect your child to do their best and to take an interest in their own education. Expect them to be responsible to the best of their ability. Remind your child that the more effort they put in, the wider variety of opportunities will be available to them later.
If you know your child struggles with their multiplication facts, take extra care to make sure that your child studies these and practices at home. The majority of math topics studied after the 3rd grade require knowledge and fluency in multiplication facts. Most grocery stores and discount stores have flash cards available, or you can easily make your own. Practice addition facts with younger children. Try to get them to NOT count on their fingers.
Make sure your child has the tools they need to do their school work. They should have materials both at school and at home. Some suggested material for an older elementary school student include: Glue, plain paper, lined paper, colored pencils, markers, pencils, pens, ruler, protractor, composition books, binders, hole punch, pink eraser, pencil sharpener and index cards. Your child’s teacher probably sends a supply list as the year begins and may post it on the school’s website.
Set limits for your child regarding when they can play (after homework is done) and how much TV they can watch and how long they can spend playing video games. Get to know the children that your child is friendly with. Encourage relationships with children that behave responsibly and do their school work.
Encourage your child to read and surround your child with educational materials. In addition to reading to your child, take weekly trips to the library to pick up new books or educational videos (Bill Nye the Science Guy is a favorite in my house). Make sure your child sees YOU reading for pleasure on a regular basis. Play games together that encourage counting. As a teacher, I have seen that many kids don’t know how to play board games anymore! Parents just don’t have time to play or maybe kids are playing video games instead. Monopoly is a great game to play since you need to count money and think logically. There are lots of educational games out there! Scrabble is a great one, and it comes in a junior version. There are lots of history and science “trivia” games, too.
- DO help your child with homework. Read questions aloud. Ask “leading” questions. Discuss where to find answers with your child.
- DO NOT do homework FOR your child. If it is too difficult and your child honestly doesn’t know where to begin, write a note to the teacher explaining this.