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Help Your Child Succeed in School

What Your Child's Teacher Wants You to Know

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Consider all that you've done to set the tone for learning. From the time your children were little, you singlehandedly took responsibility for introducing new vocabulary, reading countless bedtime stories, and cheering on each new skill and accomplishment. Now that they're getting older, though, it might be easy to step back and let them flourish or flounder on their own. However, you are the most important factor in determining whether your children will succeed in school, and this is no time to "let up" on the expectations you've maintained over the years. Here's what your child's teacher wants you to know:

1. 15 Minutes a Day Would Make a Huge Difference

What is the one skill that your child needs the most help with? Is it learning to read? Mastering basic multiplication facts? Spelling? Talk with your child's teacher about the one skill that your child most needs to develop right now, and begin to work on that skill for 15 minutes a day. If that seems like too large of a chunk of time, break it up to five minutes at breakfast, five minutes in the car, and five minutes at dinner time. Then, over the next couple of months, watch as your child's overall school performance is impacted by mastering this one crucial skill.

2. Be Involved

Communicate with your children about what events are most important to them. For example, if they really want you to attend the school play, but aren't as concerned about whether you're able to chaperon a field trip, use that knowledge to plan your involvement. In addition, make a habit of maintaining a family calendar so that you're aware of the events that are coming up. And remember, no matter how old your child is, he or she still needs you to be involved at school.

3. Reinforce Expectations at Home

If your child is having difficulty living up to some classroom expectations, look for ways to incorporate and reinforce those expectations at home. For example, if your child has difficulty not interrupting the teacher during classroom instruction, make sure that you're not inadvertently reinforcing the habit of interrupting at home. Or, if your child is expected to write down his or her homework assignments every day on a certain notepad, make sure that you're checking it regularly. Supporting classroom expectations from the home front will make it easier for your child to follow through on his or her responsibilities within the classroom, too.

4. Communicate Questions and Concerns

Never allow questions or concerns to build up. Most teachers do have E-mail, so getting in touch to follow up on an issue or keep your child's teacher in the loop on something is easy and really does not take much time. Know, too, that being proactive and making an effort to communicate your concerns before something goes awry is an effective way to leverage your child's success in school.

5. Lead by Example

Finally, remember that you set the tone for your child's success in school. When your child knows that you take school seriously, and don't disregard or show disrespect for your child's teachers, you equip your child to put forth the very best effort. In addition, when your child sees you reading for pleasure, putting your own skills and education to use, and continuing to grow and learn as an adult, you help your child make the connection between what he or she is learning at school and how that growth applies in the real world.
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