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HELPING YOUR CHILD SUCCEED IN SCHOOL

 with activities for children aged 5 through 11

 
 

Foreword

 

 

     This is the question we parents are always trying to

answer. It's good that children ask questions: that's the best

way to learn. All children have two wonderful resources for

learning--imagination and curiosity. As a parent, you can

awaken your children to the joy of learning by encouraging

their imagination and curiosity.

 

     Helping Your Child Succeed in School is one in a series of

books on different education topics intended to help you make

the most of your child's natural curiosity. Teaching and

learning are not mysteries that can only happen in school. They

also happen when parents and children do simple things

together.

 

     For instance, you and your child can: sort the socks on

laundry day--sorting is a major function in math and science;

cook a meal together--cooking involves not only math and

science but good health as well; tell and read each other

stories--storytelling is the basis for reading and writing (and

a story about the past is also history); or play a game of

hopscotch together--playing physical games will help your child

learn to count and start on a road to lifelong fitness.

 

     By doing things together, you will show that learning is

fun and important. You will be encouraging your child to study,

learn, and stay in school.

 

     All of the books in this series tie in with the National

Education Goals set by the President and the Governors. The

goals state that, by the year 2000: every child will start

school ready to learn; at least 90 percent of all students will

graduate from high school; each American student will leave the

4th, 8th, and 12th grades demonstrating competence in core

subjects; U.S. students will be first in the world in math and

science achievement; every American adult will be literate,

will have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy,

and will be able to exercise the rights and responsibilities of

citizenship; and American schools will be liberated from drugs

and violence so they can focus on learning.

 

     This book is a way for you to help meet these goals. It

will give you a short run-down on facts, but the biggest part

of the book is made up of simple, fun activities for you and

your child to do together. Your child may even beg you to do

them. At the end of the book is a list of resources, so you can

continue the fun.

 

     As U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander has said:

 

     The first teachers are the parents, both by example and

     conversation. But don't think of it as teaching. Think of

     it as fun.

 

     So, let's get started. I invite you to find an activity in

this book and try it.

 

Diane Ravitch

Assistant Secretary and Counselor to the Secretary

 

 

Contents

 

 

Introduction

 

The Basics

 

     Where Our Children Learn

     What Our Children Learn From Us

     How Our Children Learn From Us

     What Messages To Send

 

Activities

 

     Can You Top This?

     Listen Up

     Time Marches On

     Now You See It, Now You Don't

     Start to Finish

     I'm OK, We're OK

     Where Did I Put That?

     My Place

     Well Done!

     How Time Flies

     Homework Made Easy(!)

     Divide It Up

     Help Wanted

     How Can I Help?

     TV Time

 

Parents and the Schools

 

Notes

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

Introduction

 

 

What is the earliest memory you have of being in school?

 

 

Excitement?

Fear?

Wonder?

Rejection?

Joy?

 

 

 

     How do you feel about your years in school? If you have

happy memories, chances are you can help your children be

excited about learning and have good memories, too. If you

disliked school, it's harder, but you can do lots of things to

help make school a better experience for your children than it

was for you.

 

     The good news is that every child in every family has the

power to succeed in school and in life, and every parent,

grandparent, and caregiver can help.

 

     But how do we help our children succeed? How do we give

them the power? The most important thing we can do is be

involved with our children's education even before they are in

school, then stay involved once they are in school.

 

     This book is about what we can do in our own homes, right

now, that will help our children go to school wanting to learn.

It includes:

 

   * Basic information on what we know about success in school;

 

   * Activities for children ages 5-11 to help them acquire the

     skills to succeed;

 

   * Questions and answers about when to talk to the teacher

     and how to handle parent-teacher conferences.

 

     Success in school takes hard work, planning, a few basic

skills, and the will to want to succeed. How do we pass these

ideas on to our children?

 

     What we know about success in school is a combination of

common sense mixed with new ideas about learning.

 

 

 

     We do know the following:

 

  1. Where our children learn is important. We can find

     inexpensive and easy things to do at home--where our

     children first start learning--that will make them want to

     learn. We can also strengthen our ties with the community

     and the schools, where learning continues.

 

  2. What our children learn from us is important. What we say

     and do can build their maturity and self-confidence.

 

  3. How our children learn from us is important. All of us

     teach our children every day, whether we realize it or

     not. We can make sure we show them a variety of ways to

     learn.

 

     Now, how do we take these facts and turn them into ways to

help our children do well in school?

 

 

The Basics

 

 

Where Our Children Learn

 

 

At Home

 

 

     It's no surprise to anyone that children need time with

their parents. And even though most parents are extremely busy,

whether they work outside of the home or not, they do find time

to spend with their children. But they want that time to count

in helping prepare their children for the world they will find

outside the home.

 

     What counts most is what we say and do at home, not how

rich or poor we are or how many years of school we have

finished. When children can count on getting attention at home,

they have a greater sense of security and self-worth. This will

help them do better not only in school, but also when they grow

up.

 

     If you think about it, school, while very important, does

not really take up very much time. In the United States, the

school year averages 180 days; in other industrialized nations,

the school year can extend up to 240 days, and students are

often in school more hours per day. So, the hours and days a

child is not in school are important for learning, too.

 

     Communicating. This is probably the most important

activity we can do in our home, and it doesn't cost anything.

Ask questions, listen for answers. These are no-cost,

high-value things to do.

 

     Think of conversation as being like a tennis game with

talk, instead of a ball, bouncing back and forth. Communication

can happen any time, any place--in the car, on a bus, at

mealtime, at bedtime.

 

 

 

     When our children enter and continue school with good

habits of communication, they are in a position to succeed--to

learn all that has to be learned, and to become confident

students.

 

     Starting early. Here are some things you can do when your

children are young:

 

   * Let them see you read, and read to them and with them.

     Visit the library. If they are old enough, make sure they

     have their own card. Keep books, magazines, and newspapers

     around the house.

 

   * Keep pencils and paper, crayons, and washable markers

     handy for notes, grocery lists, and schoolwork. Writing

     takes practice, and it starts at home.

 

   * Teach children to do things for themselves rather than do

     the work for them. Patience when children are young pays

     off later.

 

   * Help children, when needed, to break a job down into small

     pieces, then do the job one step at a time. This works for

     everything--getting dressed, a job around the house, or a

     big homework assignment.

 

   * Develop, with your child, a reasonable, consistent

     schedule of jobs around the house. List them on a

     calendar, day by day.

 

   * Every home needs consistent rules children can depend on.

     Put a plan into action, and follow through.

 

   * Give each child an easy-to-reach place in which to put

     things away.

 

   * Set limits on TV viewing so that everyone can get work

     done with less background noise.

 

   * Watch TV with your children and talk about what you see.

 

     Handling homework. These are the messages to get across to

your children about homework:

 

   * Education is important. Homework has to be done. Let

     children know that this is what you value.

 

   * Try to have a special place where each child can study.

 

   * Help your children plan how to do all the things they need

     to do--study, work around the house, play, etc.

 

   * Let your children know that you have confidence in them.

     Remind them of specific successes they have had in the

     past perhaps in swimming, soccer, cooking, or in doing a

     difficult homework assignment.

 

   * Don't expect or demand perfection. When children ask you

     to look at what they've done--from skating a figure 8 to a

     math assignment--show interest and praise them when

     they've done something well. If you have criticisms or

     suggestions, make them in a helpful way.

 

     The time we spend exchanging ideas at home with our

children is vitally important in setting the tone, the

attitudes, and the behaviors that make the difference in

school.

 

 

 

In the Community

 

 

     In many parts of our nation, the ties among neighbors have

been weakened. For the sake of our children, they need to be

rebuilt, and you can help. Be sure to introduce your children

to your neighbors. You might even try a "child watch" program

where adults who are home during the day keep an eye out for

children when they walk to and from school and stand at bus

stops.

 

     Some schools are helping families connect with the

community by, for example, becoming centers for social services

as well as for education. Getting to know your child's school

can help you, in a very real way, get to know a major part of

your community. It can also help you build a network of wider

community support for your family.

 

 

At School

 

 

 

     Parents can become involved with the schools in several

different ways, by working with children at home, volunteering,

sharing information, and helping to make policy. We need to

remember that what works in one community (or for one family)

may not necessarily work in another.

 

     It may no longer be possible for parents to volunteer as

often for school activities. However, working with children at

home and sharing information with the school are two things all

parents can do.

 

     The section after the activities, "Parents and the

Schools," has some suggestions on how to get the most out of

talking to your child's teacher. Many teachers say they rarely

receive information from parents about problems at home. Many

parents say they don't know what the school expects of their

child. Sharing information is essential, and both teachers and

parents are responsible for making it happen.

 

     With our help, our children can become confident students,

able to handle the challenges of school. This means:

 

   * Talking with our children about the value of hard work and

     about the importance of education;

 

   * Talking about what's happening in school;

 

   * Reading report cards and messages that come from school;

 

   * Going to school and meeting with teachers;

 

   * Taking part in school events when you can; and

 

   * Finding out about resources in the community.

 

 

What Our Children Learn From Us

 

 

     Sometimes we think that all our children need to know to

be ready to start school are the ABCs and how to count. The

reality is that most children can learn these things pretty

fast once they get to school. What they do need--and what you

can give--is the message that education is valuable: through

education, people can shape their own future.

 

     So, talk about learning, share the fun and excitement of

new skills. Show your children that you are always learning,

too. Read aloud, play games, and talk about events around the

block and around the world.

 

     Children tend to follow the examples set for them. When we

say one thing and do another, children watch and learn. When we

practice what we preach, children watch and learn.

 

     The bottom line is that when we give our children the

support and information they need, and expect them to do well,

they do better in school and in life.

 

 

 

How Our Children Learn From Us

 

 

     Children need active, even noisy, learning as well as

quiet learning such as reading. Active learning includes asking

and answering questions (and trying to get more than just "yes"

or "no" answers); solving problems; and discussing a variety of

topics.

 

     Active learning can also take place when a child plays

sports, spends time with friends, or goes to a museum or zoo.

The active learning suggestions in the next section will help

you think of even more things for you and your children to do.

 

     Limit TV watching. Watching TV is an example of a quiet

activity that children can learn from, but one that is a

problem in almost every home. We know that children who watch a

lot of TV learn less and get lower grades than students who

watch little TV. And in international comparisons, U.S.

students rank high in watching TV, but are near the bottom in

doing homework. The result is that U.S. students know less than

those in other countries.

 

     Encourage active learning. What can we do? We can listen

to our children's ideas and respond to them. We can let them

jump in with questions and opinions when reading books

together. When this type of give-and-take between parent and

child happens at home, a child's participation and interest in

school increases.

 

 

 

 

 

What Messages To Send

 

 

     Three of the important messages our children need about

success in school can be sent by:

 

  1. Sharing our own experiences and goals with our children,

     because children tend to adopt our ideals. They need to

     know how we feel about making an effort, working hard, and

     planning ahead.

 

  2. Establishing realistic, consistent family rules for work

     around the house so our children can develop schedules and

     stable routines. Children need limits set even though they

     will test these limits over and over again. Children need

     to know what they can depend on--and they need to be able

     to depend on the rules we make.

 

  3. Encouraging our children to think about the future. Our

     children need realistic, reasonable expectations, and they

     need the satisfaction of having some of these expectations

     met. They need to take part in making decisions (and to

     learn that sometimes this means sacrificing fun now for

     benefits later) and they need to find out what happens as

     a result of decisions they have made.

 

     Throw a stone into a pool and the circles widen and

overlap. None of us lives in isolation. The circles of home,

community, and school overlap also. For our children to learn

and thrive, they need the support and encouragement of all of

the circles in which we live. But the circle in the center is

the home and that's where it all starts.

 

 

 

 

 

Activities

 

 

     There is no one "right" way of doing these activities.

Make changes, shorten or lengthen them to suit your child's

attention span, or think up some activities of your own. Above

all, enjoy them. And don't worry about what you might not have

done in the past. Start where you are now, with the resources

you have now.

 

     In a box at the end of each activity is information on why

that activity is important to your child's education. The

suggested activities all build skills, attitudes, and behaviors

children need for good study habits. They are designed to help

develop personal maturity, enthusiasm for learning, and the

ability to concentrate.

 

     But that does not mean the activities are hard to do and

won't be any fun. They are easy to do, cost little or no money,

use materials found at home, and don't take much time.

 

     Work out your own schedule for the activities. Don't

forget to try them on vacation days or in the summer, too. If

you've only used one part of an activity, you can go back to it

and find the ideas you haven't tried. Experience indicates that

all of the activities, in whole or in part, will be useful.

Ability in schoolwork is like ability in sports: it takes

practice to gain confidence, to become motivated, and to win.

 

 

 

Age Levels

 

 

     The activities are arranged by approximate age levels.

But, of course, you are the best judge of what your child may

be ready to try. Age levels of the activities are indicated by

a symbol at the top of each activity:

 

 

Ages 5-7

 

 

 

     The activities for these early school years focus on

helping children get ready for schoolwork and get a head start

on the habits and behaviors important for ongoing success in

school.

 

 

Ages 7-9

 

 

 

     These activities help children become organized and build

early study skills and work habits.

 

 

Ages 9-11

 

 

 

     These projects for children in the upper elementary grades

continue to focus on work and study habits, with more emphasis

on making personal decisions.

 

 

Remember:

 

 

   * We can all be great teachers;

 

   * Every home is a learning place;

 

   * We don't need a lot of time to do a lot of good; and

 

   * Everyone's abilities and skills can be improved.

 

 

 

Let's Go

 

 

     Pick an activity and try it with your children. You will

know they are learning when they say, "Let me try it." And

you'll know they understand when they shout: "Let me do it! Let

me! Let me."

 

 

Can You Top This?

 

 

 

 

     Teamwork is important in school. In this game, children

practice taking turns and working with others. They also build

language skills.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Imagination

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Make up a story, with parents and children taking turns,

     one sentence at a time.

 

     Decide on a topic. You might begin the first sentence with

     "Once upon a time a pirate lived in..."

 

     Continue taking turns making up and telling parts of the

     story until you decide to end it-maybe after 8 or 10

     sentences.

 

  2. Take turns beginning and finishing a story. Ask other

     family members and friends to join in.

 

 

 

     By making up stories, children can improve their language

skills. They can also start to understand how ideas flow from

one to another, and that everyone's ideas are important.

 

 

Listen Up

 

 

 

 

 

     This game helps teach how to listen carefully and follow

directions, two things that are important in school.

 

What you'll need

 

 

Any small object you can hide Objects that make noise

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Hide a small object. Give directions to find it such as,

     "Take five steps ahead. Turn right. Keep the lamp to your

     left. Bend down and look to the right." Take turns doing

     this.

 

  2. All but one person close their eyes. The person with his

     or her eyes open makes a sound (such as keys jangling,

     hands clapping, a bell ringing, a spoon tapping against a

     glass). Everyone else tries to guess what is making the

     sound.

 

  3. Clap your hands to tap out a rhythm. Have another player

     listen and then clap that same rhythm back to you. Do it

     different ways: slow, fast, loud, soft. Make the rhythms

     harder as it gets easier to repeat them.

 

  4. When taking a walk, or any place where you can stop for a

     few minutes, sit quietly for 30 seconds with your eyes

     closed, then tell each other what you heard: a baby

     crying, an airplane, a bird singing.

 

  5. Take a walk. One of you tell the other person what to

     do--cross the street, turn left, look down. Take turns

     following each other's directions.

 

 

 

 

 

     Through practice, children can learn to listen carefully,

see and hear details, and follow directions.

 

 

Time Marches On

 

 

     This game will help your children see the difference

between "a few seconds" and "a few minutes," and can help them

be on time in school.

 

What you'll need

 

 

Paper

Pencil

A timer of some kind (alarm clock, kitchen timer)

Clock or watch with all 12 numerals and a second hand

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Ask your children to watch the second hand tick five

     seconds. Together, count off the seconds.

 

  2. Count off 30 seconds. How many times can your child clap

     hands during this time? Take turns timing and watching

     each other.

 

  3. Make guesses about how long ordinary things take:

 

     How long is a traffic light red or green?

 

     How long does it take to eat dinner?

 

     How long does it take to get ready for school?

 

     Test your guesses with the watch or timer. How close did

     you each come to the right answer?

 

  4. Read a book aloud with your child for 3 minutes. Time

     yourselves. Then move up to 5 minutes, then to 10, and so

     on.

 

 

 

 

 

     Learning that some things take longer than others will

help your child understand how long it takes to do a task and

how to plan for it. This activity will also help them increase

their attention span.

 

 

Now You See It, Now You Don't

 

 

 

 

 

     This activity teaches children to pay close attention by

seeing how long it takes different kinds of liquids to freeze

and melt.

 

What you'll need

 

 

2 ice cube trays

A clock

Water

Small bowls

Paper

Pencil

Other liquids

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Together, fill one ice cube tray to the top with water.

     Fill the other tray only half full.

 

     Put both trays in the freezer. Check the clock. In

     2 hours, look to see if the water has frozen (if not,

     wait until it has frozen).

 

     How long did it take the water in each tray to freeze?

 

     Did the smaller amount of water freeze faster than the

     larger amount?

 

  2. Take an ice cube from each of the 2 trays. Put them in

     separate bowls to melt. Which cube melts faster--the

     larger one or the smaller one?

 

  3. Put one ice cube in a window and another in the

     refrigerator (not freezer) and see how long they take to

     melt.

 

  4. Try to freeze samples of liquids such as fruit juices.

     Compare their freezing times to that of water.

 

 

 

 

 

     This activity can help your child understand that things

don't happen immediately. It will also introduce the concept of

change--liquid to solid to liquid again--and the idea of having

to wait to get the result you want.

 

 

Start to Finish

 

 

 

     Organization has to be learned. This activity lets

children practice planning, beginning, and finishing a

job--important parts of completing schoolwork.

 

What you'll need

 

 

Pencil

Paper

Items used to do a job around the house, such as watering

     plants or setting the table

 

 

 

What to do

 

  1. Together, select one job your child usually does around

     the house, such as watering plants.

 

     Ask your child to write down or tell you the "Plan," "Do,"

     and "Finish" steps needed to do the job well.

 

     Look over these steps together and talk about possible

     changes.

 

 

 

  2. See what happens if one plant isn't watered when it is

     supposed to be. How long does it take for the leaves to

     start changing color?

 

  3. List the "plan," "do," and "finish" steps of one or two

     jobs you do around the house. Ask your child to help you

     think of ways to improve these steps.

 

  4. When your children have a new task, help them plan the

     steps so they can do the job well and have a sense of

     accomplishment.

 

 

 

 

 

     Sometimes taking time to plan seems like "a waste of

time," but it has been shown that those who plan a job are

usually more successful and do it in a shorter amount of time.

 

     Seeing the changes from not watering a plant can introduce

the idea of "cause and effect."

 

 

I'm OK, We're OK

 

 

 

 

 

     All of us have ways in which we are special. This activity

helps children recognize and appreciate how they, and others,

are special.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Pen or pencil

Paper

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Together, think of and write down at least 2 things you

     like about yourselves (for example, I have a good sense of

     humor; I try to be fair).

 

     Write down 2 things you like about the others playing this

     game.

 

     Now, take turns talking about what others say they like

     about you.

 

  2. Write down 2 things you would like to improve. When will

     you start? How long do you think it will take?

 

  3. Think of some jobs around the house that both of you will

     feel proud of, like fixing special food for the family,

     teaching the family a new game, or fixing something that's

     broken.

 

  4. Try to set a time every day, even a few minutes, when you

     can talk about things that happened that day.

 

     Find times to listen to each other and to chat. A ride to

     the grocery store or a wait at the dentist's office can be

     a good time.

 

 

 

 

 

     Self-confidence can make a difference in how much success

a person has, both at school and later in life.

 

     Talking about what happened during the day lets children

work out problems early instead of having them pile up and

become overwhelming.

 

 

Where Did I Put That?

 

 

     Children need help getting organized. A special place for

school items helps make mornings smoother for parents and

children.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Cardboard box

Crayons or markers

 

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Find a sturdy cardboard box or carton large enough to hold

     notebooks and other school things. Let your child decorate

     it with pictures, words, or art work, and his or her name.

     Each child in the family can have a separate box.

 

     Together, find a place to put the box. A spot near the

     front door or the place where your child does homework

     would be good.

 

     School things should go in the box as soon as your child

     comes home from school. Later, all homework and anything

     else needed for school the next day should go into it.

 

     In the winter, hats and mittens can also go in the box

     when they are dry.

 

  2. Let your child make a rainy day box and put it in a

     different place (or make it a different color). Fill it

     with "treasures"--games, books, a new pencil. Invite other

     members of the family to put surprises in the box (no

     snakes or flogs, please).

 

 

 

 

 

     Keeping all school items in one place helps teach children

how much easier life can be when we are organized and plan

ahead.

 

     Show your appreciation when your child keeps things in

order.

 

 

My Place

 

 

 

     This activity gives each child a separate place to study

or play.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Space--even a tiny area will do

A small but steady table

1 chair

1 lamp

Small floor covering

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Together, find a quiet study area away from the TV and

     radio for each child (even those not old enough to have

     homework yet).

 

  2. Cut down an old blanket, rug, or sheet to put on a small

     area of the floor. Use this to mark off each child's

     private space. Put the table and chair on the floor

     covering.

 

     This space does not have to be in the same place all the

     time. If the table is light weight, the floor cover can be

     put down any place it is out of the way (such as near the

     kitchen if a child needs help while dinner is being

     fixed). It can also be put away when it is not being used.

 

  3. If the study space will always be in the same place, try

     out different arrangements of the furniture to see what

     works best. Arrange the lamp so the study area is well

     lit.

 

  4. Together, label items with the child's name.

 

 

 

 

 

     Watch for improvement and show pleasure when quality of

work improves.

 

     Children tend to argue over the same space (even in a big

room). By having an area of the floor marked off, each child

has a place that feels like his or her own. A special place

also helps children focus on what they are studying.

 

 

Well Done!

 

 

 

 

 

     Children need the experience of doing chores. The

following are ideas to help children be more responsible and

realize the importance of people doing what they say they will

do.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Helping hands

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Talk about what happens when people do the things they are

     responsible for (water the plants or feed pets, for

     example).

 

     Think about what would happen if people did not do these

     things--if the bus driver stayed home, or the movie

     projectionist didn't show up for work. Together, think of

     more examples.

 

  2. Decide together on jobs for each family member to do.

     Should people be able to do only the things they like?

     Talk together about this.

 

  3. Turn a household task into a game. Decide together how

     long it will take to do the job. Time yourselves against

     the clock.

 

     Listening to the radio or a record while you do the job

     makes it more fun. This helps the work get done faster,

     too.

 

 

 

     Children need to learn early how others are affected when

chores-are not done. Talk about why it is necessary to do

things we don't want to do, and why we should not expect others

to do our work.

 

     This activity also gives children an early lesson in how

to make good decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

How Time Flies

 

 

 

     "I don't have time to do all I need time to do." Sound

familiar? Planning our time is one of the most useful things we

can learn. Knowing how long something will take can save time

and tempers.

 

What you'll need

 

 

Paper

Pencil

Clock

Calendar

 

 

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Together, write down your estimates of how long it takes

     to do certain tasks (such as getting ready for school or

     work in the morning; fixing a meal).

 

     Use a clock to time at least one of these tasks. Then take

     turns timing each other. (But be realistic--it's not

     necessarily a race.)

 

  2. See what part of a job can be done ahead of time, such as

     deciding at bedtime what to wear the next day.

 

  3. Talk about at least 2 places you and your children go

     where you must be on time. What do you do to make sure you

     are on time?

 

  4. Put a monthly calendar with large spaces where everyone

     can see it. Each member of the family can use a different

     colored marker to list appointments and social activities.

 

 

 

 

 

     Being on time, or not being on time, affects other people.

It is important for children to understand their responsibility

for being on time--it's not just for grown-ups.

 

 

Homework Made Easy(!)

 

 

 

     Homework without nagging is much to be desired. Have your

child try a homework chart.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Paper

Marker, pen, or pencil

Clock

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Have (or help) your child do the following: Create a

     homework chart out of a sturdy, large-sized piece of

     paper.

 

 

 

     Attach a colored marker or pen so that it is always handy.

 

     Each day after school, put a check mark in each box in

     which there is a homework assignment.Circle the check when

     the homework is completed.

 

  2. Make a new chart for each week. Depending on how many

     subjects you have, you may be able to put 3 or 4 weeks on

     each piece of paper.

 

  3. Try to figure out how long it will take to complete

     homework assignments so you know when you need to start

     working.

 

 

 

 

 

     A homework chart can show exactly what needs to be done

when, and gives a feeling of accomplishment when an assignment

is crossed off.

 

     Talk to your child about homework. Does your child need or

want more time or help? Does your child want to devote more

time to learning about a certain subject?

 

 

Divide It Up

 

 

 

 

 

     Just about anything is easier to do if it's divided into

smaller pieces. As assignments get longer and more complicated,

more organizing and planning skills are needed.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Homework assignments

Jobs in and around the house

Paper

Pencil

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Choose a big assignment to talk about, such as a geography

     project. Decide together, and have your child write down,

     what he or she needs to complete the job. For example:

 

     Reference materials (books, maps)

     Can you complete the assignment just using your textbook?

     If not, do you need to go to the library?. If so, can you

     check out books, or will you have to allow time to stay

     there and use reference books?

 

     Notes

     Do you have a notebook? Pencils? Will you need note cards?

 

     Illustrations

     If you need pictures, where will you get them?

 

     Finished project

     Will it be a stapled report? A poster? A folded brochure?

     What will you need to complete the job?

 

  2. Decide the order in which the parts of the job need to be

     done. Number the steps.

 

     Try to estimate how long each step will take. Work

     backwards from the date the paper is due in order to see

     when each part needs to be started. Put start and finish

     dates next to these steps, then put the assignment on a

     calendar or homework chart.

 

  3. Together, think about a household job, such as gardening

     or cleaning. Divide it up into smaller parts.

 

  4. Talk about how adults divide work on their jobs or at

     home.

 

 

 

 

 

     This trick of dividing big jobs into small pieces helps

make all jobs easier and can save a lot of wear and tear on

everyone when it's time to hand in a school assignment.

 

 

Help Wanted

 

 

 

     Older students are interested in life beyond school. You

can help them have a realistic sense of what's out there.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Pen or pencil

Paper

Newspaper "help wanted" ads

Friends and neighbors

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Talk with your child: "What job do you think you would

     like to do when you get out of school? What training do

     you think you will need to get this job?"

 

  2. Suggest that your child pick two adults he or she knows,

     such as neighbors or relatives, to interview briefly about

     their jobs.

 

     Help your child think of at least 3 questions to write

     down, leaving space for the answers. Sample questions:

     What is your job? How long have you held it? What kind of

     special training did you need?

 

     Have your child do the interviews. (You may want to help

     him or her get started.)

 

     After the interview, talk about what your child learned.

     Now your child will be more comfortable doing the next

     step.

 

  3. Read a page of the newspaper help wanted ads together.

     Have your child find ads for three jobs that he or she

     might want in the future. Talk together about the training

     needed for each job: Can some of it be learned on the job?

     How much schooling is necessary?.

 

  4. Have your child find people who already have these jobs

     and interview them.

 

 

 

 

 

     Remember that there will be many new kinds of jobs in the

future. What children--and adults, too-need to do is be

flexible and keep on learning.

 

 

How Can I Get Help?

 

 

 

     We need to think about more than our own interests and ask

"How can I help others?"

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

Newspaper and magazine articles

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Together, find newspaper articles about people who get

     involved. Look for ways to help other people that involve

     your child's interests.

 

  2. What are some everyday good deeds? Ask your children to

     think back and remember a time when they helped another

     person. Think big and think small.

 

  3. Discuss community food drives and volunteer tutoring

     programs. Suggest that your children check with a local

     religious group, community or recreation center, school,

     or library.

 

  4. Explore the possibility of joining a young people's group

     that does community service.

 

  5. Ask your children to name at least two things they could

     do today or tomorrow to help others. What will it take?

     Encourage your children to make a commitment.

 

 

 

     Taking part in community activity can not only help

others, but can also help your child make new friends and learn

new skills.

 

 

 

TV Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Decide how you are going to use TV. Watching television

can be educational or something we do in our spare time.

 

 

What you'll need

 

 

TV set

TV schedule

Pen or pencil

 

 

 

What to do

 

 

  1. Decide together how much TV your family will watch. Read

     the TV schedule. Have each family member decide what he or

     she would like to watch. Put initials next to everyone's

     choices.

 

     Decide what you will watch each day or week. Circle your

     choices. If 2 people want to watch different programs at

     the same time, try to compromise: take turns.

 

     Your child's teacher may assign a TV program as homework:

     make allowances if this happens.

 

  2. Try to find time to watch TV with your child. Be sure they

     understand what's real and what isn't.

 

  3. Have board games, books, or projects handy so children can

     do other things when TV time is used up.

 

  4. If your children watch too much TV, try cutting down a

     little at a time. Avoid leaving a TV set on all day.

 

 

Parents and the Schools

 

 

Q: When should I talk with my child's teacher?

 

 

     Early and often. Contact the teacher at the beginning of

the year or as soon as you can. Get acquainted and show your

interest.

 

     Let teachers know what they need to know about your child.

If your child has special needs, make these known right from

the beginning.

 

     If you notice a big change in your child's behavior or

attitude, contact the teacher immediately.

 

     The teacher should tell you before the end of a grading

period if your child is having trouble; keeping parents

informed is an important function of the school.

 

     Remember, parents and teachers work together to help

children want to learn and to help them gain self-confidence

and self-discipline.

 

 

 

 

Q: How do I get the most out of parent-teacher conferences?

 

 

     Be prepared to listen as well as to talk. It helps to

write out questions before you leave home. Also jot down what

you want to tell the teacher. Be prepared to take notes during

the conference and ask for an explanation if you don't

understand something.

 

     In conferences, the teacher should offer specific details

about your child's work and progress. If your child has

already received some grades, ask what went into them. Ask how

your child is being evaluated.

 

     Discuss your child's talents, skills, hobbies, study

habits, and any special sensitivities such as concern about

weight or speech difficulties.

 

     Tell the teacher if you think your child needs special

help. Tell the teacher about any special family situation, such

as a new baby, an illness, or a recent or upcoming move. It is

important to tell the teacher about things in your children's

lives that might affect their ability to learn.

 

     Ask about specific ways to help your child at home. Try to

have an open mind.

 

     At home, think about what the teacher has said and then

follow up. If the teacher has told you your child needs to

improve in certain areas, check back in a few weeks to see how

things are going.

 

     Parents and teachers are partners in helping children.

 

 

Q: What if I don't have time to volunteer as much as I would

like?

 

 

     Even if you can't volunteer to do work at the school

building, you can help your child learn when you are at home.

The key question is, "What can every parent do at home, easily

and in a few minutes a day, to reinforce and extend what the

school is doing?" This is the involvement every family can and

must provide.

 

     The schools also need to take steps so parents feel good

about what they're doing at home and know they are helping.

 

     What we as parents need to care about is involving

ourselves in our children's education outside of school.

 

     Remember, you can encourage your child to work hard. You

can give your child the power to succeed in school.

 

 

 

Notes

 

 

     This book is based on studies; on materials developed and

copyrighted by the Home and School Institute (HSI), MegaSkills

Education Center, 1201 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC

20036; and on the MegaSkills book and program.

 

 

Text Notes

 

 

The Basics

 

 

     The following are among the studies that provide

documentation for the text material in this publication.

Up-to-date research on the family's role in education is not

easy to find in popularly accessible libraries, even in

bookstores. Selected below are some of the more easily found

sources.

 

     For those interested in more information on these and

other studies in the field, it can be helpful to check with

university and other school libraries as well as with the

Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the

U.S. Department of Education.

 

 

Where Our Children Learn

 

 

Benjamin Bloom, (1981). All Our Children Learning. New York:

McGraw Hill.

 

Reginald Clark, (1983). Family Life and School Achievement.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Alan Ginsburg and Sandra Hanson, (1988). Gaining Ground: Values

and High School Success. Washington., D.C.: U.S. Department of

Education.

 

Dorothy Rich, (1985). The Forgotten Factor in School Success:

The Family. Washington, D.C.: Home and School Institute.

 

S.G. Timmer et al., (1984). "How Children Use Time" in Time,

Goods, and Well Being. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social

Research. University of Michigan.

 

James Coleman, (1991). Parental Involvement in Education.

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.

 

James Comer, (1988). "Educating Poor, Minority Children."

Scientific American, 259:42-48.

 

Ann Henderson, Editor, (1987). The Evidence Continues to Grow:

Parent Involvement Improves Student Achievement. Columbia, Md.:

National Committee for Citizens in Education.

 

Lynn Balster Liontos, (1992). At Risk Families and Schools:

Becoming Partners. Eugene, Ore.: University of Oregon, ERIC

Clearinghouse on Educational Management.

 

National Commission on Children, (1992). Beyond Rhetoric: A New

American Agenda for Children and Families. Washington, D.C.

 

 

What Our Children Learn From Us

 

 

Joyce Epstein, Editor, (1991). "Parent Involvement" (Special

Section). KAPPAN 72.

 

Educational Testing Service, (1989). Crossroads in American

Education. Princeton, N.J.: National Assessment of Educational

Progress.

 

Robert Hess et al., (1987). "Cultural Variations in

Socialization for School Achievement." Journal of Applied

Developmental Psychology 8.

 

A.M. Pallas et al., (1987). "Children Who Do Exceptionally Well

in First Grade." Sociology of Education 60.

 

Dorothy Rich, (1988, 1992). MegaSkills In School and In Life:

The Best Girl You Can Give Your Child. Boston: Houghton

Mifflin.

 

Herbert J. Walberg, (1984). "Families as Partners in

Educational Productivity." KAPPAN 65.

 

 

How Our Children Learn From Us

 

 

Educational Testing Service, (1989). A World of Differences: An

International Assessment of Mathematics and Science. Princeton,

N.J.: National Assessment of Educational Progress.

 

L. M. Laosa, (1980). "Maternal Teaching Strategies in Chicano

and Anglo-American Families: The Influence of Culture and

Education on Maternal Behavior." Child Development 51.

 

Harold Stevenson and James Stigler, (1992). The Learning Gap.

New York: Summit Books.

 

U.S. Department of Education, (1986). What Works: Research

About Teaching and Learning.

 

 

"Activities" Notes

 

 

     All of the activities in this section have been adapted

from the following copyrighted home learning activity programs

of The Home and School Institute (HSI), MegaSkills Education

Center.

 

Learning is Homegrown, developed for First Tennessee Bank.

 

MegaSkills Workshop Program, HSI National Training Initiative.

 

Project ADD (Alexandria's Dynamic Duo), developed for

Alexandria City, Va. Public Schools.

 

Project PACT (Parents and Children Together), developed for

Arlington County, Va. Public Schools.

 

 

Parents and the Schools

 

 

     All of the material in this section has been adapted from

The Parents Q and A Library, a copyrighted program developed by

The Home and School Institute under a grant from The Work in

America Institute.

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

     The following people were kind enough to review this book:

 

     Dale Boatright and Lyn Klosowski, American Federation of

Teachers; Joyce L. Epstein, Center on Families, Communities,

Schools, and Children's Learning; Susan Hlesciak Hall, National

Committee for Citizens in Education; Patricia Henry, President,

and Catherine Belter, National PTA; Oliver C. Moles, Office of

Research, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U. S.

Department of Education; Paula Moser, Consumer Information

Center; Catherine Peterson, Capitol Hill Day School.

 

     Special thanks to Leo and Diane Dillon for their advice on

how to work with illustrators.

 

     Dorothy Rich, Ed.D., is the founder and president of the

Home and School Institute in Washington, D.C. She has been

designing programs for families and teachers since 1964, and is

the author of MegaSkills In School and In Life: The Best Gift

You Can Give Your Child. Ms. Rich is a recognized expert on

family learning and literacy. She developed the MegaSkills

Workshops for parents now sponsored by school systems and

businesses in 40 states, and the Classroom Management Through

MegaSkills training program for teachers. She also designed

"New Partnerships for Student Achievement" under a grant from

the MacArthur Foundation; has served on the National Assessment

Governing Board; has testified before the U.S. Senate and the

National Governors' Association; and consults with state and

local school systems and business groups nationally and

internationally.

 

     Betty MacDonald has studied at the Art Students League and

The Chinese Institute in New York, and at Columbia University.

She has won numerous awards and is in Who's Who in American

Art. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States

and the world in such places as Italy, Brazil, the former

Soviet Union, Kenya, Niger, and Botswana. Ms. MacDonald's art

is in the permanent collections of several museums including

the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian

Institution), the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the

Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; and the Museum of

Modern Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has taught many

courses for the Smithsonian Institution.

 

 

 

What We Can Do To Help Our Children Learn:

 

 

Listen to them and pay attention to their problems. Read with

them.

 

Tell family stories.

 

Limit theft television watching.

 

Have books and other reading materials in the house.

 

Look up words in the dictionary with them.

 

Encourage them to use an encyclopedia.

 

Share favorite poems and songs with them.

 

Take them to the library--get them their own library cards.

 

Take them to museums and historical sites, when possible.

 

Discuss the daily news with them.

 

Go exploring with them and learn about plants, animals, and

geography.

 

Find a quiet place for them to study Review their homework.

 

Meet with their teachers.

 

 

 

Do you have any other ideas?
 

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