Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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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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How can you monitor your college student's grades?

September 12, 2017

By Judy Razo

How can you monitor your college student's grades?

When your child goes to college, your engagement with them changes. You can’t volunteer at the school, they won’t be living at home, you can’t keep track of study habits, and the academic advisor is not allowed to share your student’s academic information.

That’s right. By law, the only person allowed to receive your child’s grades and GPA is your child. Now that they are in college, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) classifies your child as a responsible adult and therefore protects their right to privacy.

So how can you check grades when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you?

  1. Trust your child.
    Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult and therefore respect them as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you his or her grades, no matter what they look like.
  2. Agree to share grades.
    Before your student leaves for college, make an agreement for when he or she will share grades. This will set expectations and help keep your child on track as he or she keeps in mind the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.
  3. Offer incentives.
    If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade their living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
  4. Understand their degree plan.
    Take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades—ask your student to walk you through their degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and always be supportive if he or she chooses to change his or her major or area of study.

Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught him or her to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught him or her and learn new techniques that will hopefully pay off.

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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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4 Ways to Keep Your College Student's Grades in Check

August 1, 2017

By Judy Razo

4 Ways to Keep Your College Student's Grades in Check

Parenting is different when your child is in college. Your child might not live at home so you can't keep track of study habits and you're no longer entitled to receive your student's grades.

So how can you keep those grades in check when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you?

  1. Trust your child.
    Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult, and therefore, you should respect and trust them as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you their grades, no matter what they look like.
  2. Establish a protocol for academic struggles.
    Before your child starts college, discuss a protocol in case they have trouble with a class or grades begin to slip. Present it as a “just-in-case” plan that both of you hope you won’t have to use.

    As a parent you have high expectations for your child. As a son or daughter, your child doesn’t want to hear that you think they're going to fail, so be tactful in your delivery. Acknowledge that going to college is very different than going to high school and this plan will provide wiggle room as your child adjusts.
  3. Agree to share grades.
    Before your student leaves for college, agree on when they should share their grades. This will set expectations and keep your child on track as they remember the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.

    The agreement will vary depending on the relationship between you and your child. If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade their living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
  4. Walk through their degree plan together.
    Lastly, you can take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades by having your student walk you through their degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and be supportive if they choose to change their major.

Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught them to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught them and learn new techniques that will pay off.

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Reading in early childhood leads to academic success

June 6, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Reading in early childhood leads to academic success

Think about when you're most proud of your young child. Is it when they conquer a skill you've been working on for a while? Is it when they use a word larger than you thought they could understand (or even a word they did—but shouldn't—have picked up from you *wink*)?

For young children, small steps in learning eventually become their academic development. Their ability to learn now will help them learn once they're in school. Reading can help your toddler develop those early academic skills.

Did you receive children's books as gifts when you were pregnant or after your baby was born? Keep those books out and accessible for your child to pick up. Flip through them together, looking at and talking about the pictures. Ask your child questions:

  • What animal is that?
  • What color shirt is he wearing?
  • Where do you think she is going next?
  • How does she know that woman?
  • Why is he sad?

These questions encourage your child to interact with the book, develop cause and effect critical thinking skills, and use their imagination about what could happen outside of the written story.

Once your child starts to develop an interest in books, head to yard sales and the library for inexpensive ways to expand their reading options. You can even use newspaper comics and magazines.

By including your child while reading books—asking questions during the story, pointing out details in the illustrations, and prompting your child to share their own version of the story—you are encouraging academic development in your child and setting them on the path to success.


How can you teach your child to read? Try this teacher's tips

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