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Parent-School Partnerships: An Education Must

October 10, 2017

By Dr. Bruce Machiafava

Parent-School Partnerships: An Education Must

Parent involvement is an essential element in education today. Whether your child attends a public or private school, principals, teachers, and administrators devote much time and energy to involving parents in their children’s schools. A strong partnership between parents and the school leads to a higher rate of student success.

What makes parent engagement so crucial to student success? As Sunny P. Chico, the author of the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher 3-book set explains, "Over 92 percent of a child's life from birth to age 18 is spent at home or doing parent-approved activities. Only 8 percent of a child's life in the same time period is spent at school." With so much of a child's life influenced by parental decisions, our children will learn from our actions.

This learning begins at birth and continues right up to kindergarten. During these years children acquire an amazing amount of knowledge. They learn to walk, run, and play games and sports. They acquire a language (sometimes two), they learn to read, and they develop social skills. They explore their world, starting with what they see in their cribs and continuing through their home and neighborhood. 

This is quite a curriculum. It can be very challenging for many parents. Unfortunately, most schools don’t become involved with these children until they are officially enrolled in school. So parents need to seek help in being the first teachers from social agencies, formal and informal groups of parents, family members and whatever help books and videos they can find.

Once the child enters school, the parent is largely relieved of the responsibility for formal education; the professional teachers take over. The parent’s role shifts to two major responsibilities: supporting the child in learning what is taught at school and advocating for the child with the school.

Supporting learning at home involves such activities as:

Readiness
Insuring good health, seeing that the child eats properly and sleeps enough, making sure the backpack has the required books, pencils, assignments due, etc.

An Environment for Learning

This environment can be a room or a desk in a corner or the kitchen table. It must be free from TV, music, phones, and other distractions. Multitasking rarely works for studying.

Homework

Parents should guide and supervise a child’s homework but not do it. Know the assignment and the due date and check to see what grade the teacher gives.

Communicate

Speak with the teacher on a regular basis, not just when there’s a problem. Advocating for one’s child may require intervening when grades are suffering or if a behavior problem has occurred. This doesn’t mean a confrontation with the teacher or the principal. Most issues can be resolved if the parent and the teacher or principal work together.

When parents partner with the school to continue classroom learning at home, students benefit. Reach out to your child's principal and teachers today to see how you can help at home.

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From a Teacher: 3 Tips for Parents to Start the School Year Right

August 15, 2017

By Kevin Rutter

From a Teacher: 3 Tips for Parents to Start the School Year Right

Successful students need engaged parents to support them. On behalf of all teachers, I'm asking you to continue to support your child's education as the school year begins. You can make this year successful for your child with these parent engagement tips:

  1. Update your contact information.
    Teachers will need to reach you at some point during the year, so make you're your contact information is up-to-date. If you've moved or changed phone numbers, please contact your school’s attendance office and provide the new information. Having the correct contact information creates the right environment for a timely communication flow between the school and home.
  2. Take advantage of technology.
    We've seen a technological revolution in schools in the past decade. There are new tools available for parents to monitor what is happening with their student at school. Your child’s grades and attendance data should be accessible for review online. These systems can also send you text messages if your child cuts class or their grades dip below an acceptable level.

    Technology allows parents to be more active participants in their child’s education. Please contact your school’s main office to learn how to connect with these applications.
  3. Attend an open house or parent-teacher conference. 
    Make a point to attend open houses or parent-teacher conferences whenever they are offered. It shows your child that you care about their education and shows the teachers and staff the same. Schools also use these events to showcase programs and services that are available for parents to help boost their engagement in their child’s education.

Keep communication lines open with your child’s school by providing updated contact information, using educational technology, and meeting with your child’s teachers and school staff. By following these tips, you will get the most out of your engagement and increase your child’s success in school.

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Celebrate Your Child's Teacher During Teacher Appreciation Week

May 9, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Celebrate Your Child's Teacher During Teacher Appreciation Week

Image courtesy of PTA.org

Teachers do so much for our kids—not only do they educate, they also look out for their social, emotional, and physical well-being while at school. They're building confidence and self-esteem while curbing bullying. They're teaching for academic success and inspiring a thirst for knowledge outside of the textbook.

With the PTA's Teacher Appreciation Week in full swing, how will you thank your child's teacher for all that they do?

The PTA put together a toolkit that will help you and your fellow parents say thanks. From thank you cards to appreciation certificates to flyers, head over to their site to download and print.

You can publicly thank the teachers on social media using the PTA graphics included in the kit and the #ThankATeacher hashtag.

Ask your child to name several things they like about their teacher. If your child is old enough to write, have them write a thank you card. If they can't write yet, write the thank you card for them.

For older kids, ask them to think about what they love about their favorite teachers and find things they admire about their least favorite teachers. Encourage them to write thank you cards to both. It's the least we can do for the people who do it all for our kids.

Tags :  teachersacademicsocial
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Earth Day: Air Quality in Schools

April 18, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Earth Day: Air Quality in Schools | Support your child's school's green school initiative this Earth Day.

Earth Day 2017 focuses on environmental and climate literacy. The theme calls attention to the importance of educating ourselves and our children on the needs of Earth’s environment and how humans can reduce the negative impact our species has contributed in the past and move forward with the knowledge of how fragile the environment is.

With that knowledge, we can make better choices every day that might seem small—like daily recycling—but lead to a big impact—reducing the size of our landfills. When we raise our kids to be mindful of their environment, they will grow up to be more environmentally conscious than the generation before them and can develop processes and plans to live smarter, more efficiently, and more Earth-friendly for future generations.

The Earth Day Network has organized many projects, from reforestation efforts (reversing the current trend of losing over 15 billion trees each year) to protecting endangered species. One of their projects that directly impacts your children is the Green Schools Campaign.

Why should you support this initiative? The Earth Day Network says,

“With children spending two-thirds of their waking hours inside schools, benefits like pure air quality, healthy lighting, safe outdoor spaces, and high quality cafeteria food aren’t fancy extras—they are essential.”

Think about air quality alone.

The air quality indoors can be up to 100 times worse than outdoors, and roughly 50 percent of classrooms have poor indoor air quality, according to Earth Day Network. Many school classrooms have low ventilation rates, where respiratory illnesses have increased between 50 to 370 percent, according to research provided by Lawrence Berkely Labs. American students miss about 14 millions school days each year due to asthma, according to the Green Education Foundation.

Those statistics are a rallying cry to use this Earth Day as an opportunity to change. You can start by further educating yourself on the Green Schools Campaign.

  • Learn why the initiative is important and how it will impact your child’s health.
  • Start talking to other parents about it.
  • Schedule a meeting with the school principal to start a conversation. Find out what your school is doing to improve air quality and make the school healthier and greener.
  • Introduce yourself to the person leading the initiative at the school and ask how you can help. That might include organizing meetings, fundraising for better building technology, or even educating others on the issue.

These are the first steps to enacting change. Educate yourself, talk to others, and learn what’s already being done. Then think of what else you can do to help current efforts or lead the charge yourself. Change for the future starts with one person. Change for your child’s future starts with you.

Tell us what you learned about your child’s school’s green initiatives in the comments below. Then keep us posted on your progress. Feel free to email us at info@youparent.com for a more direct conversation.

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4 Brain Breaks for High School Students

January 17, 2017

By Jessica Vician

4 Brain Breaks for High School Students |  When your teenager starts learning about complicated topics, brain breaks can help them focus and can even enhance the learning experience. | A teen girl takes a brain break with a cup of milk.

Once your teen enters high school, he or she will be learning important foundational knowledge that can be built upon in future years of study. For example, learning the basics about RNA and DNA in biology class could lead to studying genetics. Learning about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand could lead to a desire to learn more about international politics.

When your teenager starts learning about complicated topics, it can be difficult to wrap his or her head around them and can lead to an exhausted brain. But brain breaks can help your teen focus and can even enhance the learning experience.

Dr. Judy Willis discusses the science behind brain breaks in this Edutopia article. Basically, if your teen takes a 5-minute break from studying every 30 minutes, and uses that time to relate the learning to his or her life or even just gets the blood flowing again through exercise, it will help him or her retain the knowledge.

As your teenager starts studying a new topic that may be challenging, try one (or all four) of these brain break ideas. 

  1. Research the topic your child is learning about and share an interesting fact about the topic or about one of the leading minds on the subject. For example, if your teenager is studying Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, take a brain break to talk about how Einstein said that he often thought in music. Your teen likely loves listening to music, and knowing that he or she has something in common with the person who developing this complicated concept might help alter the way he or she thinks about learning it.
  2. When taking a break from reading a novel, spend five minutes role-playing as a character from the story. Ask your teen questions and have them answer as they think the main character would.
  3. When learning about eyesight or perhaps learning about a person who is blind, blindfold your teen during the brain break and have him or her try simple, everyday tasks so he or she can appreciate the sense of sight more. It's slightly removed from learning about lenses and corneas and only gives a minor example of what it's like to live without sight, but it might spark more of an interest in the subject.
  4. Is your teen learning a foreign language? During a brain break, do jumping jacks together while counting in that language. For more advanced work, conjugate verbs in that language during the jumping jacks.

Do you have any favorite brain breaks that you use with your kids? Share with us in the comments below.

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