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5 Tips to Help Your Children With Homework

February 17, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

5 Tips to Help Your Children With Homework | Help your child with their homework with these tips, even if you don't know the material yourself. Great parent engagement tips. | This image shows a young girl sitting at the table working on homework while her mother looks on.

As a parent, part of your role is to help your children learn many skills that they will use throughout their lives. Your children will gradually transition from easy homework to more complicated projects. What if you do not understand or comprehend their homework? What if the language is foreign? What if you feel like you can’t help?

Thinking about all these questions can make anyone stressed. I want to share some ideas to alleviate your concerns and empower you with answers for your children. Try the following five strategies to aid you with homework assistance.

  1. Partnership. Be your children’s partner in school. Attend all parent-teacher conferences and open houses before school begins to create a partnership with your children’s teachers. This will allow easier communication with the teachers and access to guidance with homework. Build partnerships with parents in your children’s classes to ask them questions, too.
  2. Homework Time. Sit with your children and let them know how important school is. Turn all electronics off to give your children your undivided attention. Allow them to teach you the homework lessons they know. This will strengthen children’s confidence and allow you to learn some of the information they are learning in school.
  3. Tutoring. Inquire about free tutoring services in your children’s school. Ask about homework assistance and guides. Attend tutoring sessions with your children so you can learn new approaches to teaching your kids from the tutors.
  4. Learn. Enroll in any free or low-cost classes that can help you gain knowledge about the subjects with which you are having difficulty.
  5. Support. You are not alone. Read the tips on pages six through eight in this document and review this helpful advice, too.

Be an active learner with your children. You can gain and access new information with them while doing homework together. No parent knows all the answers and they, too, seek help to bridge the gap.

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Resolutions: 11 Tips for Academic Success

January 27, 2015

By Maureen Powers

Resolutions: 11 Tips for Academic Success | New Year's Resolutions: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, academic success

Throughout January, YOU Parent has featured a series on making resolutions that address a child’s four core needs for success in life: social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, and academic development. This piece on academic development concludes the series, but look back through the January articles for those addressing the three other needs.

Many strong families place value on learning and education. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is an active mind. Modeling a lifetime approach to learning is one of the best things you can do for your children. Start the New Year off fresh by making a commitment to focus on learning and academics for the whole family. Try any of these 11 tips and see the difference it makes with your child by next year.

  1. Learn a new skill, take music lessons, or enroll in a dance class at the local community center. 
  2. Sign up for college classes and work toward that degree that you have always wanted.
  3. Make a small library appropriate for the whole family by placing a basket of books from the public library next to the couch.
  4. Make a point to read in front of your children and let them know how excited you are about the news article or story.  
  5. Read whatever your teenagers are reading and carve out time to talk about it.
  6. Short on time but have a long commute? Use the time to ask about school. Get over-the-seat baskets for the car and fill them with brainteasers and books.
  7. Download a new trivia application and play it with your children. Check out this site for free games.
  8. Read a book to your child that is also a movie. When you are finished reading the book, rent the movie and watch it together. Talk about the differences between the stories, and the role of an author and a screenwriter.
  9. Choose one school event to attend each quarter that is not a parent-teacher conference.
  10. Find out about your child’s life at school. Open his or her backpack every day and talk about the fliers, completed work, and homework in the pack.
  11. Allow your child to do homework with friends at your house. Older children will enjoy having study parties before a big exam. 
Do you have tips to help your child succeed in school? Share your resolutions for modeling positive academic behavior in the comments below.
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4 Last Steps for College Admission

January 21, 2015

By Kevin Rutter

4 Last Steps for College Admission | A student fills in a multiple-choice test with a pencil.

This time of year, I start receiving daily requests from my senior students for assistance in completing the final stages of the college application process. Keep your senior on track by making sure he or she has completed these four final steps. 

  1. Letters of reference
    Don't leave this step for the last minute. Teachers and counselors have a full plate and it's 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. Give this sample letter to recommenders to help guide them so they can complete it faster.
  2. FAFSA Documents
    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid requires W-2 forms and your tax information. This application will determine how much state and federal aid will be available to defer tuition costs. Remember that it operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the money runs out, it is imperative that your child submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. Most high schools offer parent counseling sessions this time of year to answer questions and help navigate your tax situation.
  3. 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 five years? Review these questions with your child and offer suggestions to refine his or her 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, have your student arrive at least 15 minutes early, and make sure he or she is dressed for success.
    • Send a thank you note. Sent after the interview, a hand-written thank you note is a nice touch that can separate your child from the competition.
  4. 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. Check with the school counseling office to see if there are any practice tests available so that your student can review the format and question types.
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How can I help my son make friends?

December 16, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I help my son make friends? | A group of children hold hands, smiling as they run through a field.

Question submitted on Twitter: My first grader is sad and says he doesn't have friends, but the teacher says everything seems fine. How can I help him?

Answer: Friendships are essential for a child's social development. You have taken the best first steps: identifying an issue with your child, and communicating with the teacher to compare notes. As a parent, you can help by fostering your child's positive social skills, an important lesson from the Through Elementary and Middle School YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book. 

To do this, talk to your child about what being a good friend means, and demonstrate these skills to your child through interactions with your own friends, and even strangers. Positive social skills include being polite, kind, trustworthy, etc. Teaching positive social skills will help your child make friends and maintain them. Then talk with your child to find out who he considers a friend, and which classmates he would like to be friends with.

Help your child find ways to make new friends and practice his social skills. Meet the parents of those children to set up play dates. Enroll your child in an extracurricular activity to meet children with similar interests. And finally, talk with the teacher to find opportunities in the classroom for your child to be paired up with those classmates he or she would like to become friends with. 

Continue to monitor your child's positive social skills and talk with your child about his or her friendships. These skills and friendships will continue to be important as your child navigates the world. 

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Standards-Based Report Cards + the Common Core

November 12, 2014

By Maureen Powers

Standards-Based Report Cards + the Common Core | An apple and pencil sit on the desk in front of a grading scale.

The school year started months ago. Regardless of what part of the country you live in, progress reports or quarterly report cards have been issued. While you likely want to review those reports to evaluate how your child is performing, there is a chance the grading system may have changed.

Some schools continue to use traditional letter grades A through F but many schools now use Standards-Based Report Cards. What are these standards? Standards describe what students are expected to know and be able to do at each age and grade level. Student progress is determined by measuring how close the student is to being “proficient” at the skill in the standard.

The acronym FAME can help parents remember progress toward the standard:

F= Falls Below the Standard

A= Approaches the Standard

M= Meets the Standard

E= Exceeds the Standard

In the Unites States today, 43 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted the Common Core State Standards for children in elementary through high school. Understanding what your child is expected to know and be able to do is important and will help him or her be successful in school. You can find more information about your state’s requirements through the Core Standards website.

In addition to the elementary through high school students, all 50 states in the nation have now created early learning standards for three- and four-year-old children. Many states have even added educational guidelines for infants and toddlers. The American Psychological Association has created a State Resources for Early Learning Guidelines Toolkit where you can find links to the early learning standards in your state.

You might need to use your child’s teacher as a resource in deciphering a new report card. Ask if the report card measures what students are expected to know for that reporting period or by the end of the school year. If you don’t understand the new criteria, contact the teacher and ask him or her to walk you through the report and explain how your child is performing. This is a learning opportunity for parents, too.

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