The Six – month Countdown
from Home Base
September found parents shopping for school clothes or purchasing uniforms, making travel arrangements and handling the transition from summer to fall schedule. You probably depended on your child to monitor his own progress, at least for the first six weeks. The Parent-Teacher conference in November was a reality check for many parents.
January brings an opportunity to map out the last six months of the 2005-2006 school year based on your child’s performance the first four months. While communication with the teacher(s) is extremely important, we often forget that we’re preparing the child with skills for life, not simply to pass a class or a grade. Don’t minimize the role that the home plays in developing skills for the real world.
Using the last report card, support your child in setting goals to improve grades in each subject. In “Rx for Home Study”, Akilah Mashariki, whose daughter Zola entered high school at the age of 12, warns parents to be tolerant of the child’s opinion even if you feel she could do more, assuring parents that they can help him to gradually raise the standard over time. She emphasizes the importance of setting a time and a place for home study free of distractions (blasting hip-hop qualifies as a distraction) with dictionaries and reference materials readily available.
It’s important that the child take responsibility for the schoolwork. Too often, parents act as participants in home study when the role should be that of consultant. Akilah suggests discussing what’s to be done before the home study begins, then moving away, staying close enough to help the child think through any problems. Operative words here are think through, not do the work or give answers. Her list of “Avoids” include doing the assignment with the child, giving the child correct answers or correcting mistakes. She advises asking questions to help the child arrive at correct answers or help him form questions to ask during the next class.
She also advises to avoid giving tangible rewards for developing good study habits. Rather reward with praise (not more than is normal for you) and let the child’s successes in school and triumphs over difficult problems be its own reward.
Academic skills can be enhanced in various ways in the home. Playing games like SCRABBLE, Boggle and Monopoly increases vocabulary, spatial, math and entrepreneurial skills in a fun way. There are many games for younger children in which matching colors, numbers and pictures enhance categorizing skills. Even if academic reinforcement is not obvious, playing games is a great way to build relationships. Are you thinking you don’t have time for games?
Ed Brabham, Family Court Counselor, advises parents to take inventory on TV time – having all family members list the programs they watch daily, then calculate how many hours each person spends in front of the tube on a weekly, then a monthly, basis. He suggests screening programs, eliminating those that express negative values and use the extra time for family interaction in the form of discussion sessions on some current topic of interest, a family issue, a movie, play, music or book.
The goal is to create home as a fun place to learn by doing, sending students into the classroom finding value in the lessons because there’s a place to use them – home. Post the goal for each subject as a visual reminder. When the next report card is issued, write in actual grade and discuss the results. Make sure the child understands that her actions, or nonactions produced the grade she received. Evaluation is an important part of projects and life.
Communicating with your child’s teacher is important. If possible, make an appointment for a conference as soon as possible since private conferences allow time for an in-depth discussion. If that’s not possible, attend parent/teacher conferences but have questions ready since time spent with teachers will be brief.
Mark your calendar – Spring Parent/Teacher Conferences – -NYC DOE
Wed., Feb. 15 – afternoon
Thurs., Feb. 16 – evening
Tues., March 21 – afternoon
Wed., March 22 – evening
District 75 – Check with your school Thurs., March 23 – evening
Friday, March 24 – afternoon
Please send questions or comments to The Parent’s Notebook, P.O. Box 755, Bklyn, NY 11238 or e-mail to parentsnotebook@ya