Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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I want to be involved with my children’s school but don’t speak much English. Is there anything I can do?

May 30, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A empty colorful classroom with green walls, yellow, blue, and red chairs.

Question: My twins are starting kindergarten in the fall at an English-language school. My English is not very good and I’m worried that I won’t be able to communicate with the teachers. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: You are already taking the first step by voicing your concern to us. It’s great that you aren’t letting a potential language barrier get in the way of being involved in your twins’ education.

When you register your children for school, ask the registration person whom you should contact at the school for communication services. Many schools have bilingual staff or funding available for hiring translators for parent-teacher conferences and other times when you need to speak with teachers or administrators. There are other things you can do to stay involved with your twins’ school life, too.

  • Volunteer to help with events at the school. You can help decorate classrooms or the cafeteria before an event, or chaperone a field trip.
  • Take an English language class. If your twins’ school offers English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, sign up and improve your English. You might be able to better communicate with their teachers.
  • Do what you can. If the school cannot provide a translator when you need to speak with your children’s teacher, draw a picture or use a sign to fill in the words you don’t know in English. The teacher will appreciate that you are involved and trying to communicate with him or her.

These tips will help you make the most of your situation, but be sure to ask the school if they have translation services available when you need to speak with your children’s teacher or administrators.

For more information on preparing for the first day of school and bilingual education, please see the Through Elementary and Middle School book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set.

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My son wants to go to one school and I want him to go to another. How do we make the decision?

May 23, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A group of middle school kids walk to school on a city street.

Question: My oldest child will be starting high school in the fall. He wants to become a scientist and wants to attend a specific high school for their well-regarded science program and strong reputation for research. However, the school is in a neighborhood that is a bit unsafe and inconvenient, so I’d rather he went to a nearby school. This other school doesn’t have as strong of a science program, though. What should I do?

Answer: It’s wonderful that your son knows what career he wants to go into at such a young age, and even better that he has researched the best options for his education. To be so devoted to his academic and professional career is a very unique quality, especially at his age.

It also can be very difficult to juggle just one child’s schedule, let alone multiple, and we understand that having your son at a nearby school is much more convenient for your family.

Think about how much further your son will go in his career if he starts studying at a school that caters to his career goals now. Talk to the school counselor to see if that school’s program will help him get into a better college that caters to his career choice.

Now think about what will happen if you insist that your son goes to the nearby school that doesn’t cater to his strengths and career goals. Will he resent you? Will he work as hard in a program that doesn’t develop his interests? Will he be challenged at this school?

Only you and your son can answer those questions and make the decision, so it’s important to ask yourself what will happen in each scenario. Are there compromises that both of you can make in each scenario?

Finally, regarding the unsafe neighborhood, remember that there is danger everywhere, even in safe neighborhoods. If the danger is a very strong concern for you, voice your concerns with the school administration. How do they address the danger? Use the school as a resource to help you and your son make the decision.

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Should I be reading to my baby? He can’t even talk yet!

May 16, 2014

By YOU Parent Facilitator

A mother and father hold their son as they read to him.

Question: Should I start reading to my 6-month-old son? I don’t think he knows what I’m saying, so do I really need to read to him before he learns to talk?

Answer: It might not make sense when you first think about it, but reading to your baby now will help him learn to talk sooner and will help develop his vocabulary.

Specifically, reading to him provides visual stimulation, story element introduction, sequence processing, and information synthesis. These are more clinical terms that mean that reading to him will help his brain develop.

As you try reading to him, start with these simple techniques to engage different parts of his brain and senses.

  • Let him touch books that have different textures.
  • Point to a picture in the book and tell him what it is. For example, if there is a picture of a bear, point to it and say, “bear.”
  • Repeat the name of the image a few times while pointing to it to reinforce the word association.
  • As he gets older and learns to talk, point to a picture in the book and ask him what it is. “What is this animal?”

Aside from benefitting his brain development, when you read to him you cater to his emotional well-being. As you try reading to him, sit close and hold him while speaking in a gentle and loving voice. This approach will boost his sense of security and your bond together.

By starting to read to your son when he is six months old, you will help foster his emotional and academic achievement as he grows through family bonding, word association, and pronunciation practice.

For more information on reading to your baby, see the first book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher book series by Sunny P. Chico, Through the Early Years.

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My high school daughter lacks confidence. How can I help her?

May 9, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A group of teen listens intently to a confident female during a discussion.

Question: My high school daughter lacks confidence. She doesn’t speak up in class, doesn’t have a lot of friends, and won’t join clubs or do other social activities. How can I help her build confidence so that she is prepared for adulthood when she goes to college?

Answer: First, it is important to examine why your daughter practices the behaviors you mentioned above. These behaviors might simply suggest she is introverted, and if that is the case, it does not mean that she lacks confidence.

However, if you are certain that she’s not just introverted, it’s time to address her self-esteem. You said you want her to build confidence so she is prepared to go away to college. In this context, extracurricular activities are a great option for your daughter for three reasons.

  1. Social. Your daughter will meet people she might not otherwise interact with through these activities. If she finds an activity that she is interested in, she may make new friends who share the same interests.
  2. Academic. During meetings or activities, your daughter will build skills that she may not build in the classroom. From teamwork to finding an outlet for her creativity to developing leadership skills, your daughter can become a better student because of the skills she develops in extracurricular activities.
  3. Prepare for College. Colleges and universities seek well-rounded students who have demonstrated a strong academic record and participate in extracurricular activities. The extra work shows a dedication outside of school and that the student can still earn good grades while doing something outside of the classroom.

If your daughter is initially hesitant to join clubs or other extracurricular activities, remind her that it’s very important for her college applications. If she is looking forward to going away to school, the motivation to boost her chances of getting into the school of her choice should encourage her to join one or two organizations. As she participates more frequently, she will build those skills and in turn, build her confidence.

For more information on the value of extracurricular activities and boosting self-esteem in teens, please see Through High School and Beyond, the third book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher series.

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My daughter comes home from daycare with bruises. How do I know if she’s being mistreated or has a health issue?

May 2, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A doctor examines a baby girl.

Question: My 4-year-old daughter comes home from daycare with bruises on her arms and legs. I’ve asked the daycare and they say she plays kind of rough. She doesn’t play like that at home, though. I also talked to other parents at the daycare and their kids don’t seem to have a lot of bruises. How do I know if she’s being mistreated or if it’s a health issue?

Answer: It’s good that you have noticed the bruises and asked the daycare and other parents about their children’s experiences. Have you asked your daughter if anyone is hurting her?

If not, the next step is to ask her. She might be able to tell you if something is wrong. There is also a chance that she won’t tell you what’s happening for various reasons. Either way, by asking her directly, you are showing her that you care about her, what happens to her, and what she tells you.

Next, regardless of her response, you should take your daughter to her pediatrician. Your daughter is at an age where she no longer sees her doctor as frequently as when she was a baby, so if there is a potential medical issue that occurs between scheduled check-ups, she should visit the doctor immediately.

Her doctor can help you determine whether her bruising is from playing rough, a health issue, or from mistreatment and can help you determine the next appropriate step for preventing it. Additionally, the doctor can document suspicious injuries and give you information on reporting those to authorities if necessary.

Hopefully the daycare provider is correct and your daughter is just playing a little rough, but you have every right to be concerned about your daughter’s safety. Consider spending a day at her daycare observing to make sure everything is okay there. Even if you need to take a day off work, it's worth it to make sure your daughter is safe there. 

For more information on how to deal with your child’s injuries and doctor visits, please see Through the Early Years, the first book in the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set. If you suspect your child is being abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

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