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How can you practice parent engagement this school year?

August 30, 2016

By Jessica Vician

How can you practice parent engagement this school year? | Parents and teachers chat happily in a classroom.

You’ve prepared your child to start school by getting him or her into the back-to-school routine, buying school supplies, and sharing how to make a good impression on his or her new teacher(s). But have you thought about your role in the process once school starts?

Parents need to be just as prepared as students for back to school, making an effort to have a positive and open relationship with teachers and administration and practicing effective parent engagement at school and at home.

Parent Engagement at School

  1. Introduce yourself to teachers and administration.
    At the beginning of the school year, attend any parent-teacher meeting opportunities to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s). If there aren’t any formal opportunities, arrive at school early in the first week to introduce yourself to the teacher and administration.
  2. Share contact information and ask how the teacher prefers to communicate.
    Taking this initiative demonstrates to the teacher that you are proactively open to communicate about your child’s successes and/or concerns.
  3. 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 can demonstrate to the school that you are an engaged parent while also demonstrating to your child that you are invested in his or her education.
  4. 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 your principal about offering these workshops in your school, as they can boost student achievement by enlisting parent support.

Parent Engagement at Home
In addition to practicing parent engagement at school, you must also practice it at home by attending to your child’s needs while building the foundation for academic success.

A child requires all four of his or her core needs to be met in order to live a successful life, so parents must nurture a child’s social well-being, emotional well-being, physical health, and academic development.

You can do that by practicing these eight parent engagement activities and asking yourself:

  1. Are you paying attention to your child’s social and emotional well-being? 
  2. Are you making sure he or she is living a healthy life? 
  3. Are you coordinating with your child’s teacher to foster academic success outside of the classroom? 
  4. Are you modeling the behavior you want to see in your son or daughter outside the home?

By asking these questions and making a good impression at your child’s school, you’re already on the path to parent engagement success. Get involved and support your child’s needs to make this school year a great one.

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Raising Children in America

January 28, 2016

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Raising Children in America | Moving to a new country is a complicated journey, especially when adapting to a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Here are a couple of things you may encounter in American culture. | Photo of an American flag.

Moving to a new country is a complicated journey, especially when adapting to a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Families encounter new values that may conflict with their culture’s values. Not only do parents have to adapt to the changes, but they must also balance old customs with new ones for their children.

Here are a couple of things you may encounter in American culture. Consider how to merge your home country’s values with those here to help your child acclimate.

Dating at a younger age
In the U.S., children start dating more seriously in high school. It is generally considered normal to let two teenagers go to the movies together, go out to dinner alone, or go as a couple to a school event like prom.

Of course, it’s your right to decide what rules you set before you let your child go out with a romantic interest. If you allow your child to date, you might ask him or her to call during the evening to check in and speak with other parents about what they do to keep their children safe while dating.

Sleepovers
Your elementary school child might be invited to sleepovers at friends’ houses. Usually the host family prepares activities for the kids to enjoy, like movies, games, and snacks.

If you feel a bit uneasy, ask the host family what they are planning for the night. Leave your phone number so they can reach you if your child feels homesick during the night or if something else happens.

Talk to your child before the sleepover, assuring him or her that you will pick them up if they are uncomfortable. You can also call to check in on your child before bedtime if you’d like.

Parent engagement in school
In some cultures, talking to or questioning teachers or school authorities is seen as disrespectful. But in the U.S., parents are expected to be involved in school and to talk to teachers about their concerns.

Parents can call or email the teacher at any time to discuss their child’s academic and social progress. Don’t feel intimidated—rather, take this opportunity to advocate for your child’s education.

Leaving home to live on campus
In some countries, teenagers live with their parents when they go to college (if they study in the same city). In the U.S., leaving home to go to college is seen as a rite of passage. In some universities, it’s even mandatory to live on campus for at least the first year of college.

See this as a great opportunity for your child to be independent, learn how to tackle daily life chores, and encounter new experiences and cultures.

It’s difficult to get used to a new normal in American culture, but work with other parents to establish trust and do what feels right to you. Build confidence and learn more about your adoptive country—you will be able to help your child with any obstacle he or she encounters in their journey toward success in America.

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Finish These 4 College Application Steps Before 2016

December 15, 2015

By Kevin Rutter

Finish These 4 College Application Steps Before 2016 | If your high school senior hasn't already, he or she should be finalizing college applications this month. Encourage your student to complete as many of these more time-consuming final tasks before the New Year to avoid falling behind. | High school students walk the halls at school.

If your high school senior hasn't already, he or she should be finalizing college applications this month. Encourage your student to complete as many of these more time-consuming final tasks before the New Year to avoid falling behind. 

Request Reference Letters
Make sure your student does not leave this step for the last minute. Teachers and counselors have a full plate and it is difficult to fulfill last minute requests to write a great letter of recommendation. Sit down with your child and write a general letter of reference that highlights positive characteristics, academic achievements and extra-curricular activities. This sample letter can then be given to recommenders to guide them and make completion faster.

Complete FAFSA Documents 
W-2 forms are needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will determine how much state and federal aid will be available to defer tuition costs and it operates on a first-come, first-served basis. The money runs out, so it is imperative that your child submits the FAFSA as soon as possible and they need your tax information.

Parents, you have a critical role in completing the FAFSA. The forms will require you to provide evidence of your family’s income by using your tax documents, W-2 and 1040 forms. You will be able to submit the FAFSA sooner if you have this information available. All schools offer free services to parents to help prepare these documents, so take advantage of them.

Schedule and Prepare for Interviews
Several students of mine are currently having interviews to make the final determination on a scholarship opportunity or admission to an institution. Interviews can be tough, but there are some simple strategies that can help your child feel more confident about them.

  • Practice, practice, practice.
    Generally, interviews involve the same kind of questions: Tell me about yourself, why do you want to go to school here? Tell me about a time when you were a leader, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Review these questions with your child and help them refine their answers.
  • Make a good first impression.
    First impressions also play big role in determining the outcome of an interview. Practice shaking hands with a firm grip and eye contact, get your student there at least 15 minutes early, and make sure he or she is dressed for success.
  • Send a thank you note.
    A hand-written thank you note, sent after the interview, is also a nice touch that can separate your child from the competition.

College Admission Test Prep
These tests can produce a lot of anxiety. The best way to have your student feel better about them is to do some research about what specifically will be on the exam. Once that is determined, the student can put in some practice time. This is especially important for admission tests that involve timed essays. Getting the timing right takes rehearsal and repletion. Check with the school counseling office to see if there are any practice tests available so that the format and question types can be reviewed.

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What is Parent Engagement and How Can You Practice It?

November 10, 2015

By Jessica Vician

What is Parent Engagement and How Can I Practice It? | A mother smiles as she looks at her daughter, who smiles back.

At YOU Parent, we are huge supporters of parent engagement. Engaged parents have the power to positively influence their children’s lives by supporting their social, emotional, physical, and academic needs, which is why we offer programs that teach parents to do just that.

Schools can benefit from effective parent engagement as well. Research proves that students earn better grades, score better on tests, and are more likely to graduate if they attend schools that effectively implement parent engagement programs.

So we know that parent engagement helps children, but what is parent engagement?

Parent engagement is exactly what it sounds like: parents who are actively engaged with their children. It involves a partnership between schools, communities, and parents that allows them to collaborate for the greater educational success of a child. Actively engaged parents:

  • Encourage their kids to do their homework and to ask questions if they need help.
  • Make sure their children eat well and get enough rest to come to school ready to learn.
  • Engage their kids in learning activities outside of the classroom.
  • Nurture their children’s social and emotional needs to fulfill them outside of academics and sports. 
  • Inspire their kids to seek greater success in life. 

From birth through high school and beyond, there is always an opportunity to engage with your child and support his or her core needs. Get started with these four easy parent engagement activities that you can do with your child. Each activity addresses one of the four core needs.

Social 
Sit down for a family dinner and talk about your days. What was the best thing that happened all day? What was the worst? What did each of you learn that day?

Emotionalʉ۬
Tuck your child in for bed and lay beside him or her to cuddle for a few minutes before sleep. Show your love with a hug or squeeze.

Physical
Take a short walk with your child. Catch up on each other’s lives.

Academic

Check your child’s homework each night and ask him or her to tell you about the work. How did your daughter get the answer to that math problem? Ask her to talk you through the formula or equation.

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Score High with These 4 Middle School Study Tips

October 29, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Score High with These 4 Middle School Study Tips | Middle school signals the beginning of an adult approach to academics and studying. The switch to multiple classes with different teachers prompts students to juggle deadlines and learn valuable time management skills. That’s why it’s critical that they develop strong study skills now to help them through middle school, high school, college, and beyond. | Two middle school students study in the library.

Middle school signals the beginning of an adult approach to academics and studying. The switch to multiple classes with different teachers prompts students to juggle deadlines and learn valuable time management skills. That’s why it’s critical that they develop strong study skills now to help them through middle school, high school, college, and beyond.

Here are four tips to get your student started.

Determine Learning Style
Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner, a kinesthetic learner, or a combination of those styles? Once students know how they learn best, they can use learning techniques that complement their needs.

Read up on how to find and adapt to your child’s learning style.

Eliminate Screens
Televisions and smartphones are distractions that hinder good time management. Set up a study room away from the TV and ask your child to put his or her phone in the kitchen.

Encourage your child to do as much studying or homework as possible before doing any research on the Internet, which can break concentration and lead to surfing. If he or she has a paper to write, your child can create an outline first and then do the online research once he or she has a general idea of how the paper is laid out.

Start with Short Study Periods
If your child is having trouble with motivation or focusing for a longer period of time, start small. Ask him or her to go to the study area and work for 15-20 minutes. Then your child can take a short break, perhaps to play a quick game on the smartphone, and return to studying for another short interval. Gradually increase these intervals to 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, and on.

Be Strategic
Which option would motivate your child more: starting with a subject he or she doesn’t like, so that the reward comes by eventually getting to the subject he or she enjoys; or would starting with the subject he or she likes get the studying underway sooner?

Research effective reading and memory improvement techniques to help your child be efficient when studying. This website offers tips on acronyms, acrostics, and how to read effectively.

Making an effort to help your child improve his or her studying skills is the first step to achieving academic success as an independent teen and adult. These skills will help your child for years to come, so start today.

For more tips on helping your child through the middle school years and reaching academic milestones, read the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books, available on Amazon.

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