When we think about how to help children through school, the first things that come to mind are: checking their homework, having pencils, pens, and paper, and getting them to school. With No Child Left Behind (NCLB), test scores are important and everyone is concerned how well their child will do. However, the reality of it all is, we are here to prepare our children to grow up and become productive responsible adults. Enabling our children will only teach them to become dependent on adults.
Here are ten ways to support your child, regardless of their grade level:
1. Talk with your child everyday. It's important to talk with your child not at them. Everyone is always ready to tell their child what not to do. What do they like to do, what are they watching on television, what is going on in the news? Talk to your child not at them. Engage them in conversation regarding community and world events. Not all news is violent.
2. Discuss what happened in school. Many parents ask, "What did you learn?" I can guarantee the response will be, "nothing." When asking what happened, your child's first response will give you insight into what is important in their mind. Do they tell you about a fight that occurred, a child who got hurt, a teacher's negative comment, or what they learned, what positive feedback they received from the teacher, and upcoming school events? This will also tell you how your child sees the world, is the cup half empty or half full. Regardless of their response, listen and ask further questions. Do not tell them what they should have done throughout their day.
3. Give them a specific time and place to do homework. School is preparation for work when they become an adult. Pick a time in the early evening when everyone in the family has to work, including the adults. While your child is working on homework, the adults may be paying bills, reading the newspaper, or taking care of household chores. During this time regardless of the activity everyone is engaged in, there should be no interruption from the telephone, television or anyone in the house. Whatever you do, do not do your child's homework, you are not fooling anyone. It only tells your child you do not believe in him/her.
4. Review their homework. Rather than check their homework, you want to review it with your child and ask him/her to explain their work and their thinking. Even if you see incorrect answers or misconceptions of concepts, do not correct their work. Making mistakes is a part of life, and what effort will he/she put into their work if they know you will "fix" it all. As much as you want everything they do to be perfect, parents need to know the difference between enabling and providing support.