Sending your child to school every day is not enough. As a parent, it is important to create a positive learning environment in your home and help cultivate a positive attitude toward education. You can support and reinforce the efforts of your child's school in the following ways:
- Reward good efforts. Praise and encourage your child. Be sure to display your child's papers and artwork to celebrate his or her efforts. Set realistic expectations and, depending on your child's age, use small, appropriate rewards.
- Encourage learning at home. Build on your child's interests at home. If a second grader loves insects, buy an ant farm; look under rocks for beetles or visit the bug exhibit at the local museum. Stimulate your child's thinking skills by talking about current events, reading newspapers or books together, or asking about a recent movie or television show.
- Make sure your child has a place to study. Be sure your child has a desk, a space for books and a schedule that includes quiet time for homework.
- Monitor homework. Keep track of your child's progress by reviewing homework each night. Here are some other ways you can help:
- Let your young child sit near you to monitor progress and to help if needed.
- Help manage your child's time and focus on getting the assignment done.
- Help your child plan for larger projects.
- Check the quality of work and encourage your child to focus on areas needing improvement.
As your child enters middle and high school, he or she should take on more responsibility to make decisions about classes, homework and outside activities. Remain aware of assignments, but try to avoid nagging. Remind your child that you are available for help. When you do help, show your child how to find the answers rather than provide them. Allowing your child to find answers and correct mistakes will help build self-confidence and resourcefulness.
- Talk about school. It's important to ask specific questions that show you're interested in your child's school life, which may make it easier to confide in you. Avoid questions with yes-or-no answers or general questions like, "How was school today?"
- Talk about work. For teenagers, show how school relates to work by sharing day-to-day stories. Express concerns about upcoming reviews - the equivalent of report cards - or excitement about a report - the equivalent of a term paper. Discussing your anxiety about getting along with coworkers or worries about getting a promotion may parallel your child's fears and provide new avenues for discussion.