Help your child plan to make the most of this school year

Children need interested, involved parents to ensure they are on a path to academic success.

study_tips_storyWorry. When you’re a parent, it comes with the territory.

You want your child to be healthy, happy and safe. So you worry they are watching too much TV, drinking too much juice or that the bug they ate last night will make them sick. And during the school year, you worry if they are learning all they can.

Getting involved is the best way to ensure children reach their potential, says Shirley Ginwright, administrator and program director for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Community Outreach Development.

“Regardless of how exhausted you may be, you must engage with your child every day,” Ginwright says. “Ask about your child’s day at school. Talk about what they learned, help with their homework, read with them, check on possible projects, question what’s needed, check backpacks and help your child to prepare for the next day.”

U.S. Department of Education research reveals that children whose parents are involved in their education score higher on tests, complete more homework, demonstrate more positive behaviors and are more likely to seek higher education.

“Parents play a key role in their child’s academic success,” says Ginwright, who coordinates K-12 science-education programs. She offers suggestions to help parents keep their child on track during the school year:

  • Set goals – Sit down with your child and create goals for the new school year, she says. Establish benchmarks that will help them stay focused, and provide positive reinforcement each time goals are met to give children an incentive to continue working.
  • Develop a game plan – Ask your child to suggest ways you can help them meet academic goals and share your own ideas. Decide on the approach you will take.
  • Get involved – “Parental involvement requires action,” Ginwright says. Talk to your child’s teachers, principal, counselors and support staff for ideas on reinforcing educational goals.
  • Expect results – “It is important for children to understand what’s expected of them,” Ginwright says. Continually and positively reinforce your expectations throughout the school year. In the evenings, when school and work are done, it’s accountability time.
  • Know when to push and when to play – Understand your child’s academic abilities so you can know when to drive harder and when to back off, Ginwright says. The more you work with your child, the better able you are to recognize when your expectations are too high or not high enough, she says; adjust accordingly.

 

“It’s all about balance,” Ginwright says, cautioning parents not to expect more of children than they are able to deliver. “It’s important to remember they are children and need a balance of work and fun.”

  • Get support – Many academic enrichment programs, such as tutoring and mentoring, are available for school-age children in the school or community, Ginwright says. Research your local resources and ask for the help your child needs. Libraries, churches, businesses, professional organizations, universities and museums often offer enrichment programs.
  • Explore online resources – Numerous online resources are available to help support your child’s academic success. General educational information is provided by the U.S. Department of Education at www.ed.gov. Free resources for help with homework and school projects is available at www.free.ed.gov.
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