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Back to School: The Sequel!

From the desk of Cathy Giardina

My Homework—”The dog ate it!”

As a teacher, I have heard many answers to the question, “Where is your homework?” In fact, I have often thought it would be a great title for a children’s book.  As a parent, I think more arguments probably occur in households regarding homework than most any other school issue. Here are some ideas that work to keep the homework under control in your household:

  • Make sure your child stays on top of school assignments. The longer a child procrastinates the worse it gets!  Many kids need help making homework a priority and part of their daily routine. This is especially true with projects that are not due tomorrow.  Help your child set benchmarks for the completion of the project in order to develop an “I can do it!” attitude.  Ask to see completed homework. Don’t settle for the typical answer, “I’ve done it!” As kids become proficient in completing homework on a regular basis, you can randomly check to see if it is done.
  • Set up a homework station. Children need a designated work spot to complete school tasks. The kitchen table works best for us. That way I am available to monitor homework and provide assistance and encouragement while I do my kitchen duties. Of course, the fewer distractions – the better!
  • Schedule homework time. Even if homework was completed in class, I’d ask to see it so we could discuss it. If homework was left at school, then homework time is spent reading, working on a project that is due, or practicing another skill.  This way homework time remains part of the daily schedule.
  • Model appropriate organization skills. How frustrating to do homework and not be able to find it the next day!  It is important for me to watch my kids place the homework in the right folder, the folder in the backpack, and the backpack in the designated area where it can be easily found the next morning.

“Celebrate good times, come on!”

When I think of the words of that familiar song, two lines seem so appropriate to school success.

“Let’s celebrate, it’s all right!” It is not only all right, it is important to celebrate and acknowledge our child’s effort as well as success.

And here’s the other line, “A celebration to last throughout the years.” Yes, celebrations can produce lifelong results! Kids remember and treasure those “good times” that encourage them to reach higher.

At Stetson and Associates, we encourage teachers to learn about students’ interests, learning styles, and multiples intelligences, so they can teach in ways that students learn best. Harvard researcher Dr. Howard Garner has done an immense amount of work in the area of multiple intelligences and says, “We are all smart – just smart in different ways.”

Discover how your child is smart. A favorite book of mine is Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers by Dr. Peter Benson, president and CEO of the Search Institute. Find the “spark” in your child and continue to ignite it by believing and celebrating it!

“Oh, no!  The school called!”

Too often school and home connections are negative focusing on what is not working, so parents often avoid visiting school or talking with their child’s teachers.  However, communication between home and school is imperative to your child’s success in school and includes positive student achievement and behavior as well as suggestions for improvement.

  • Talk to teachers. Parents can provide unique and alternate perspectives about how your child learns.  Schedule regular meetings with your child’s teacher and ask questions about the areas in which your child excels, as well as the areas in which he struggles. Obtain an outline of the year’s curriculum or learning standards and ask for ideas of what to work on with your child at home. Attend parent conferences, open houses, parent nights, and activities at school that encourage home and school connections.
  • “School-Friendly Homes” and “Parent-Friendly Schools” Dr. Joyce Epstein, Director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, advises us to create “school-friendly homes” and “parent-friendly schools.”   “School-friendly homes” reinforce the importance of school, homework, and activities that build student skills. “Parent-friendly schools” recognize each child’s individuality and welcome all families.  Parents are encouraged to convey to their child that school is important by becoming involved in the school and showing support for education both at school and at home.  Helping with homework, celebrating success, and staying connected with the school are good ways to lay the foundation for a successful school year.

Resources:

Benson, Peter, (2008) Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers. Search Institute Press: Minneapolis, MN.

Epstein, Joyce, (1997) School, Family, and Community Partnerships:  Your Handbook for Action. Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Gardner, Howard, (2006) Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons, Basic Books: NY.

Henderson, N. and Mapp, K (2002) “A new wave of evidence, the impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement.”  Southwest Educational Development Laboratory Annual Synthesis.  Available:  www.sedl.org

Search Institute, www.parentfurther.com

Stetson and Associates, www.stetsonassociates.com

U.S.Department of Education, www.ed.gov/parents

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