For those with children, September is a month of transition as young students adjust to being back at school. If your children have OCD, ADHD or anything else that interferes with their learning, they’re probably already getting some help from a child psychiatrist. But it doesn’t end there. Positive parental involvement will help children succeed in school, and every new year is a new opportunity to put helpful supports in place.
It’s certainly not a controversial statement to say that parental involvement can make a difference in a child’s education. 72 percent of teachers surveyed in a 2003 study claimed that children of unmotivated parents sometimes “fall through the cracks” in schools, and that students would perform better with more parental involvement. But how can you create that involvement? Is every PTA meeting and school function really necessary?
You do not have to become over-involved in your children’s education, but just making a few simple changes to your daily routine can make a big difference. For example, always make homework a priority and set aside time during your evening routine for your children to focus on it. Young children cannot provide their own structure, so helping them get into a routine will make a big impact.
Here are a few other simple ways to become more involved in your children’s schooling:
1. Have a positive attitude and be a positive role model. It’s normal for children to not be enthusiastic about school, especially subjects they find challenging or confusing. Focus on the positive by trying to find something fun in the subjects they dislike (exciting science experiments, for example). Talk about your own school days and favorite teachers with enthusiasm. And while the kids are doing their homework, try do something educational yourself, like keeping up with current events or reading a book. Show them that you never stop learning.
2. Help them get organized. The number of assignments kids bring home can be overwhelming to them. Take a look at the homework and help them decide what can be done quickly and which assignments will take more time and effort. By helping them prioritize their tasks, homework time won’t be so overwhelming. Setting up a workstation with pencils and other supplies will help, too.
3. Encourage, don’t criticize. Children respond positively to interest, encouragement and achievement. Be genuinely interested in what they are studying. Encourage their efforts and reward real achievement with enthusiasm. Scolding, nagging and blaming will not help them like school. If they feel that they can never please you, they might give up.
4. Attend all parent-teacher conferences. Listen to what the teachers have to say and ask if there is anything else you can be doing to help your children succeed. It is important for teachers and parents to work together.
5. If you are doing all of these things and your child still struggles with academic, behavioral and mental issues, look into behavioral health services. Just like additional tutoring can help them with difficult subjects, behavioral therapy can help them better adapt to a new school year.