What does being involved in your child’s education mean? There are many simple but amazingly productive techniques that influence your child’s performance and behavior at school and home. How many of the following statements are reflective of your involvement with your child’s academic experience?
- I know how much homework my child has each night.
- I review homework and check papers daily.
- I attend PTA and school board meetings.
- I spend one-on-one time with my child.
- I provide maps, globes, dictionaries, and other reference material at home.
- I attend extra-curricular activities.
- I meet with my child’s teacher regularly.
- I make sure my child has a nutritious breakfast each day.
- I make sure my child gets enough sleep and daily exercise.
- I frequently praise my child for effort as well as achievement.
If you answered yes to the majority of the statements above, congratulations! You are helping to give your child the A+ advantage. If you answered no to more than half, reconsider those areas and try to make improvements for your child’s benefit.
Implications of Parental Involvement
The positive impact of parent involvement is well documented. Research indicates children benefit from parental involvement in the following ways:
- Better grades and test scores.
- Better attendance.
- Greater completion rate of homework.
- Higher graduation rates.
- More involvement in extra-curricular activities.
- Improved attitude and better all-round behavior (Popkin, 1995).
A home that supports children as students contributes significantly to their school success. Laying the foundation for a supportive home involves providing the right environment.
The Structure Debate
Some parents worry that too much structure can harm a child’s development while others are concerned about being too lax and not providing adequate guidance. Structuring your children’s every waking minute while you frantically cart them to extra-curricular activities is likely to be counterproductive. These children often feel overloaded, unmotivated, or depressed. On the other hand, households that lack structure and positive encouragement tend to produce disorganized or unmotivated students.
Moderation is the key to ensuring a balanced structure. One of the best ways to make homework a positive experience for you and your child is to apply the principles of organization and structure.
Tips for Battling the Homework Wars
- Help your child develop a work area. Children usually do better when they have a private study area away from interruption. Some children prefer to work at the kitchen table. If so, make the kitchen off-limits to other family members during study time. Equip your child’s study area with a good light, a clock, pencils, paper, and a wide variety of reference materials.
- Agree on a regular time for studying. Forcing yourself to sit down and do something you do not enjoy is tough, even for adults. Children have an even harder time. To help your child make homework a habit, schedule a set time each day for homework. Your child may find it beneficial to organize homework time into short work periods (perhaps 20 minutes) with time in between to play or exercise. The renewed energy can be helpful. Likewise, most children can use some physical activity right after school before sitting back down to homework.
- Help your child develop a homework “to do” list. Keeping track of homework assignments can be difficult for some students. Help your child develop a system for writing down assignments as the teacher gives them, then checking them off when completed. Such a “to do” list also gives your children a productive system for tackling other kinds of work.
- Provide a quiet environment for study. You can show your child that you value homework and respect the need to complete it effectively by keeping the house quiet. For those children sensitive to background noise, a noisy environment is a real distraction. For all children, a quiet home during homework time sends a very supportive message. You could even go one step further by making this a study time for the entire family. Parents might read a book or the newspaper while children complete their school assignments. The message that “we are a family of learners” will be received loud and clear.