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5 Ways to Be More Engaged at Your Child’s School

November 1, 2016

By Jessica Vician

5 Ways to Be More Engaged at Your Child’s School

November is our favorite month at YOU Parent, because it’s Parent Engagement Month! The entire YOU Program is devoted to teaching parents the best parent engagement practices and educating teachers about partnering with parents for student success.

While effective parent engagement involves nurturing each of your child’s needs—social well-being, emotional well-being, physical health, and academic development—sometimes the hardest part is knowing how to be an engaged parent at your child’s school.

How important is education to your family?
Teachers aren’t the only people responsible for your child’s education. Children change teachers every year, but they don’t change parents. The first thing you can do to support your child’s education is to demonstrate how much you and your family value education, and therefore show your child how important his or her education is.

Once your child knows how much you value his or her education, you will likely see your child taking steps to succeed at school: behaving in class, doing homework, and asking questions of the teacher and you when he or she doesn’t know the answer.

While you can foster academic success outside of the classroom by engaging your child in discussions about school, certain subjects, and making sure he or she is doing homework, you can also play a role at school.

Talk to the teacher.
Start by proactively reaching out to the teacher to see how your child is doing in class. Email the teacher and ask how he or she prefers to communicate about your child’s successes or concerns. Then find out how your child is doing and ask the teacher for recommendations on supporting your child’s learning at home.

Volunteer in the classroom or at the school.
If you have time to volunteer as a classroom aide, to help at a classroom party, or chaperone a field trip, you express to the school that you are an engaged parent while also showing your child that you are invested in his or her education.

Join the PTA.
The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at your school is a great place to network with other parents, teachers, and administration. You can directly influence your child’s education at the school by speaking with school staff, fundraising for school supplies, and learning about local and national issues that impact your child’s education.

Attend performances or games.
School isn’t just about academics. Support your child’s social and emotional development by attending his or her performances—like a school play, holiday program, or recital—or sports practices and games. It takes a lot of courage for a child to perform, whether solo or in a group, and your presence demonstrates how much you care.

Request parent engagement training.
The YOU Program, which is the parent engagement program upon which YOU Parent is based, offers various forms of training so that parents can learn how to best practice parent engagement with their children. You can learn the basics in a parent workshop and become a parent leader and train other parents at the school after attending a parent leadership training workshop. Ask the principal to offer a workshop at your child’s school.

By trying one or two of these suggestions, you will prove to your child that you support him or her in school and show his or her teachers and administrators the same. Use Parent Engagement Month to be more engaged at your child’s school.

Is your school hosting special activities for Parent Engagement Month? Tell us what they’re doing and what you will be attending in the comments below.

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Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post

October 25, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post | How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)? Try this activity.

After the trick or treating ends and the costumes are put away, there’s one last thing a parent has to worry about for Halloween: the begging and pleading for one more! piece of candy.

How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)?

If your child is in elementary school or above, make a trading game out of it. Assign relative values to each candy. For example, two rolls of Smarties are equivalent to one two-pack of fun-size Starburst. Not only does this game teach your children to use both mathematical and analytical skills, but it also turns the candy into a commodity that your child will start to see as more than just a sugary, fruity, or chocolaty treat.

Once you have assigned the relative values to each candy, invite your kids to divide their candy into the various categories you have assigned. If you need help determining values, watch this hilarious and accurate Buzzfeed video.

Then, invite your kids to trade according to the value system in place. Since there is a lot of excitement on Halloween night, let them trade a few days’ worth of candy that night (and eat some of it, embracing the inevitable sugar high). In the days following, host a candy trading post at the kitchen table after school or dinner so that your kids can honor the value system and continue to trade their candy each night for one dessert’s worth.

Continue the activity every night until all the candy is gone. As a parent, you choose whether to participate or supervise. If you have an only child, you should definitely participate—otherwise, whom will he or she trade with every night? If you don’t want to eat your candy, bring it to the office or treat your child with it after his or her supply is gone.

This Halloween candy trading activity is a great way to trick your kids into rationing their treats without whining and overindulging while developing their analytical and bargaining skills at the same time.

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Say "Thank You" on World Teachers' Day

October 4, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Say "Thank You" on World Teachers' Day

“Strangely one of the most central, vital professionals to society does not receive the respect it deserves in some parts of the world.”

That observation comes directly from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in regards to teaching.

So how can we, as individuals in society, change that observation and give teachers the respect they deserve?

We can start by honoring World Teachers’ Day on October 5th and saying “thank you” to our children’s teachers.

Many teachers work long hours, arriving well before the bell rings to start school and staying well past the last bell ring. They take assignments home to grade after dinner. They prepare lesson plans before the first day of school. In many school systems, they’re not paid nearly enough for being tasked with inspiring a thirst for knowledge and a quality education to our children who will become tomorrow’s leaders. And many of them have to spend their own salary to buy supplies for their classrooms due to a lack of funding. Just look at the thousands of Go Fund Me pages started by teachers to stock their classrooms.

We don’t say, “Thank you” nearly enough. Think about what you can thank your child’s teacher for: cleaning her up after she got sick at school, spending extra time with him until he figured out fractions, listening to her as she cried about being bullied, pushing him to score a goal or achieve an athletic accomplishment despite being a little clumsy. Teachers are your extensions while your kids are in school, nurturing your children’s physical, academic, emotional, and social needs.

This World Teachers’ Day, think about what your child’s teacher has done for your daughter or son. Even though it’s early in the school year, you can probably think of something the teacher has done to go out of his or her way for your child. Write them a meaningful thank you card. And if you remember something a past teacher did for your child, send them a card as well. They’ll be touched you still remember.

Above all, remember how hard their jobs are and keep that in mind during each communication you have with them throughout the year. Give them your respect and they will continue to respect your child.

And as your child’s first teacher, thank you for the late nights, early mornings, long days, bad days, poopy diapers, temper tantrums, readings before bed, kisses in the morning, and so much more.

To teachers!

Tags :  teachersacademicparenting
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The key to academic success? More play!

September 27, 2016

By Jessica Vician

The key to academic success? More play! | As higher education and strong academic achievement become more important for our children, so does the pressure to start teaching as soon as possible. But how should we be teaching our young children in daycare or preschool? | Toddlers play on a playground.

As higher education and strong academic achievement become more important for our children, so does the pressure to start teaching as soon as possible. But how should we be teaching our young children in daycare or preschool?

Researchers have conducted several studies regarding the effects of traditional academic learning and play-based learning on young children and have found that more fun can equal more academic success in the short and long term.

For example, one study suggested that children who go to preschools that take a traditional academic approach—children sitting in desks, completing worksheets, and learning specific rules on how to play—learn to read and write later than kids who attend play-centric daycares and preschools. The play-centric approach means letting the children engage in imaginative play, figuring out how to play with toys rather than being told how to play with them, and less formal instruction.

So what does this mean for parents? For one, it means that you can relax about putting your child in a hyper-academic daycare or preschool. Look for options that encourage both independent and group play so that your child learns social skills and expands his or her imagination. Those skills will not only help your child succeed socially and creatively, but research suggests it may also spark a greater thirst for knowledge.

Second, put away the high-tech toys and go back to your roots with Lincoln Logs, building blocks, basic Legos, and books. Let your child lead the way as you play with these toys together. See what his or her imagination can build with the blocks, and talk to your child about what he or she is building. Discuss the books you read together by asking questions about the story or characters after every few pages.

These techniques encourage your child to develop critical thinking skills and teach him or her to create, rationalize, and develop a desire to learn, which will help your child succeed in school and in life.

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How to Respect Your Teen’s Privacy

August 23, 2016

By Jessica Vician

How to Respect Your Teen's Privacy | Find a balance between guiding your teenager to make good decisions while providing and respecting his or her privacy. | A teen boy blocks his mom from talking to him by putting up his hand.

As your child becomes a teenager, he or she will want more privacy, independence, and in turn, more distance from you. While it’s difficult to accept that your child is becoming an adult, it’s important to remember that one of a parent’s main responsibilities is to prepare their child for adulthood. In doing so, you must foster that independence and provide privacy for your teen.

At the same time, you still need to be an active and engaged parent. Find a balance between guiding your teenager to make good decisions while providing and respecting his or her privacy.

Build Trust
If you haven’t had reasons to distrust your teenager, start a conversation with him or her. Praise your teen for who he or she has become: smart, kind, caring, sympathetic, happy, a good friend, a good teammate, a good brother or sister. Explain that for those reasons, you trust him or her and want to reward your teen with more privacy.

In your conversation, ask what kind of privacy your teen wants. Is it more time with friends, more alone time, extra time to sleep in on weekends? See if the two of you (and your parenting partner) can come to a compromise. Maybe it’s an extended curfew every once in a while, or the family goes to dinner once a week and gives your teen some peace and quiet at home.

If you proactively acknowledge and reward the trust you have for your teenager, he or she is more likely to continue to keep up the good behavior, and you can grant him or her privacy as needed.

Establish Rules
Your teen likely doesn’t want you going in his or her room and looking through drawers, phones, diaries, etc. And do you really want to be snooping around his or her room? Think about how you would feel if your teen was peering around your room.

Establish ground rules with your teen. For example, you won’t go in your teenager’s room if he or she does his or her own laundry. But if your teen doesn’t want to do the laundry, then you will need to go into his or her room to collect laundry and change sheets. That doesn’t mean you will snoop, but you will need to go in and out of the room for laundry purposes.

Privacy also works as a great incentive for increased study time. If your teen is struggling with certain subjects in school, ask him or her to spend additional time—with your help, after-school assistance, or tutoring—on that subject. If the next test or report card produces a better grade, reward your teenager with more privacy, provided he or she keeps up the additional study time.

Acknowledge Issues
If you suspect your teenager is engaging in behaviors that you don’t approve of, address your concerns by speaking directly with your teen. You know your child and can probably tell if he or she is being honest with you.

If there are behavioral issues you need to address, then explain that you own the house and have the right to ensure illegal activities aren’t happening on your property. Sometimes underage drinking and drug use are a concern, and you might need to search your teen’s room for those items. If it gets to that point, it is important that you explain why you must search the room and restrict their privacy, as well as what the repercussions are not only for your teenager, but for you and the rest of the family.

If you feel the behavior is at a point where you can still offer your teen an incentive to stop, do so. The incentive should involve increased privacy, which you can grant once you feel you have rebuilt the trust between the two of you.

For a deeper discussion on a parent’s rights to search and a child’s right to privacy, read this article from Empowering Parents.

Tags :  teenagershigh schoolsocialacademic
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