How to Help Your Child do Well in School

Students at Hoopa Elementary School loaded onto school buses on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, after their first day of classes for the fall semester. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By Maymi Preston-Donahue, Hoopa Tribal TANF

It’s back to school time! We send our children to school for a lot of reasons (the law being one major factor), but what are you doing to help your kids be successful in school besides buying them school clothes and getting them on the bus every day? After school programs, sports, and other extracurricular activities are all very important in making your child a well-rounded and well prepared individual for college, the world, and for themselves and their communities. Research shows that a parent who encourages and pushes their child to explore different activities ends up with a more self-motivated student. Also, children tend to value what they do more if they believe that their parents also value what they do. If you are supportive and interested, they will feel value in what they do and feel motivated to do more in school, sports, and in the arts. This leads us to the one aspect of school that parents tend to forget about or even under value: homework.

Let’s face it, after a long day of work it is sometimes hard to get ourselves motivated to help out with homework. Homework, however, is very important. It reinforces what the child has learned throughout the day, while also reinforcing a work schedule for the child that will benefit them as they progress further in their schooling. According to the National Parent Teaching Association (PTA), kindergarten through second graders should be doing 10-20 minutes of homework, and third through sixth graders should be doing 30-60 minutes to be keeping up with the world average. Junior through high school kids could benefit from even more homework to be preparing for college where four hours of homework or even all-nighters are the norm. Too many students become used to not doing homework and then are overwhelmed when they actually have to do work at home. It is an even ruder awakening when they get to college with little to no homework experience. If your child is not bringing home work, you should be in contact with the teacher asking, “Why?”

Tips for Helping Your Student with Homework:

It’s the first month of school: set up a schedule.  Let your student unwind and then dive right into the homework.

Read all those pesky teacher letters with your students along with the expectations asked for by each class. How can you expect your student to respect what the teacher says if you don’t? Attend all open houses and parent teacher meetings. Maybe your child has a learning disability that you can work around with the teacher. It’s best to solve any learning issues now while students are still adaptable to change. Remember, they are the professionals who have dedicated their lives to working with kids. They are not personally against any one student.

You are going to have to learn right along with you student. When the student is done ask recall questions: What did you read? Who was the main character? What type of math did you just do? What part of history was that about? What do those dinosaurs like to eat?

When helping your student, don’t get mad or frustrated with them. This could create an anxiety towards that subject that will make it harder for them to keep up with the subject.

If you don’t know how to do the work they are doing, admit it. Circle the problem or part and make sure they go over this part with their teacher or tutor. Follow up with your student to make sure they did cover that part later.
Have a specific place in the home for finished homework. Losing homework is not a good excuse for not turning it in.

Take advantage of tutoring! Hoopa High students have the option of staying after school with a motivated teacher and riding the after school bus. They can also enroll in College Knowledge and Upward bound (call Sydney Norton at the high school for more info). The elementary schools also have after school programs and tribally-run after school programs. All of these programs can be inquired about by calling the main River School number at (530)625-4600.

Let students know that they are in school to learn. All other activities are rewards for doing well at their only job right now: being in school. This includes sports, social events, etc. You can call teachers and check up on Power School to see how your student is doing and see if they are missing any class.

Provide a work area away from distractions and the TV.

Let your children be children: your priority for your child is to let them be successful in school. They need to do well in school, and complete their homework, and take care of themselves before they have to take care of others.

Lastly, enjoy getting to spend more time with your child and learning about what they do in school all day. At this point in their lives they spend most of their time in school. This is your chance to be a part of that.

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