Showing posts tagged with: school

“Taming the Homework Monster…at Every Age”

An Overview of Homework Homework can be difficult for families. Many kids don’t like it and many parents are challenged by how to help. ▪Homework is beneficial to students, as it reinforces lessons learned at school. ▪Homework should be a review of school work, not an introduction of new material. ▪Homework helps children to learn responsibility, time management, and confidence. ▪Homework needs to be completed first. Then your child can watch TV, call a friend, or play a video game. Toddlers and Homework No, toddlers do not yet have homework but they certainly can disrupt their older siblings who do! ▪While your kids are doing their homework, toddlers can be occupied with a simple art project, a quiet game, stories, or even a quiet DVD. Your school age kids will be distracted by a toddler who is running around, crying, or grabbing at papers and books. ▪Your toddler does not have to be perfectly quiet (no classroom is perfectly quiet), but we can begin teaching toddlers that “homework time is quiet time”. Not only will your older kids benefit, but when your toddler becomes a kid with homework, some lessons will have already been taught. Kids and Homework There are three important steps to supporting your kids’ success with their homework: ▪Homework Station: Choose a spot in your home where your kids will do their homework every night. This is the same spot where your children should put their backpack when they get home from school. Having a set spot reduces the amount of time spent every night debating where homework will be done. ▪Homework Kit: Find a small box or tote and fill it with school tools, such as pencils, pens, sharpener, scissors, eraser, crayons, paper and any other items that your kids need to complete their homework. Keep this kit in your child’s homework station. This reduces the amount of time spent every night first looking for a pencil…and then a sharpener…and then an eraser. ▪Homework Time: Choose a time daily that your child will do their homework. The time will vary for each child on each day, and will be based on other activities such as sports and music lessons, but should be planned in advance. Consistency is important! This reduces the amount of time spent every night debating when homework will be started. Teens and Homework Computers should be kept in public places, not in a teen’s bedroom. It is not possible to monitor your teen’s computer activities from behind a closed door. It is appropriate to supervise your teen’s homework and grades, but as they get older, our supervision needs to be reduced. Teens need to handle their schoolwork well because they are motivated to do so – not because we demand it. You are not going to college with them, so really begin backing off, especially the last two years of high school. Some valuable things to tell your teens: ▪We will allow you to handle your schoolwork on your own as long as things are going well. If your grades drop, or we get calls from teachers, then we need to get more involved. ▪We expect you to complete your homework before checking Facebook, going on You-Tube, or chatting with friends. ▪The expectation is that you will do your best. We expect no grade lower then a __ (fill in the blank with reasonable expectations). ▪You need to turn off both your computer and your cell phone at least 30 minutes before bed. (Collect them both from your teen if you do not trust them to keep them off at bedtime.) ▪We love you, we support you, and we will help if we can. But we cannot force you to do your best, and so will allow you to experience the negative consequences if you make bad choices about your homework. Homework Assistance at Every Age Remember that it is your kid’s assignment, not yours. You already went to school – now it’s their turn. ▪Offer support to get your child started on their assignments. Sit with younger children while they do the first problem, and then walk away. With older children, review each assignment with them, make sure they know what is expected, and then walk away. ▪Allow your child to achieve their own success, and to experience their own failure. ▪Expect your child to do their best, not to be perfect. ▪Be willing to help your kids when they request it, but do not allow them to be rude to you. Tell your kids, “I will help you, but if you are rude, I will walk away.” And then follow through! ▪Focusing mainly on grades encourages your child to cheat, or at least to accept cheating as acceptable and normal. Focus on learning, not on grades.

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8 Steps to Prepare for School

. Yikes! Here in California, some kids are already back to school. But if you are lucky/unlucky enough to still have some summer vacation left, here are some strategies for easing into the new school year. Transition slowly from your summer schedule to your school hours and routines. One week before school starts, figure out your child’s school schedule. Have your kids go to bed and wake up in the morning at the times they will for school, and try to eat breakfast and dinner at the times they will on school days. Some children are nervous about being left alone at school and will have a difficult time saying good-bye. Always remember that a short good-bye is better than a long one. When leaving your child at school on the first day, or when you say good-bye at the school bus stop, give your child a hug and a kiss and say “Have fun at school!” And then just walk away with a wave and a smile. If you are confident and excited about saying good-bye, then your child will have the same positive feelings. Buy school supplies now while the local stores are fully stocked and having sales. Buy a sturdy backpack that is large enough to hold your child’s items, but not so big that your child cannot wear it comfortably. And when you do go shopping, take the kids with you. Let them try on the backpack to make sure it fits, and allow them to select their own school materials. Some children, especially those going to a new school, are nervous about meeting new people. So before the school year begins, practice with your children what it will be like to meet their new teacher and new classmates. Explain that the first day of school is a good day for making a new friend. Tell your child to introduce themselves to at least one child who was not in their classroom last year. Talk about how most children are nervous, and that it is a kind thing to reach out to a new student who might not know anyone. If your child is going to walk or ride their bike to school, you should practice the route with your child at least two times before the first day of school. If biking, teach your child to walk their bikes through all intersections and to bike in a single file. For the children who walk to school, see if you can find a walking buddy. If you walk are that buddy, look for other children and parents who live close to you and will also be walking the same path. And of course, if you drive children to school, always make sure every child is properly buckled every time! Before the first day of school, set up a homework station at home. This will be the spot where your child does their homework every night, and also the spot where they keep a homework kit in this station. Buy a small plastic tote, and fill it with an assortment of school supplies, such as pens, pencils, a sharpener, paper, and markers. Then at homework time, your child goes to their station and has all needed suplies. This allows them to be organized and not to waste any time looking for what they need when they start their homework. And don’t forget to set up a small basket for yourself where you can keep school forms, lunch orders, and any items that need to be returned to school. To make mornings easier, make lunches the night before, leaving only the refrigerated items to be packed in the morning. Have each child lay out their clothes, including shoes, the night before, and put their backpacks by the front door. Many parents find themselves needing to call out to their children several times before the kids actually get up. Decide with your children if they want you to wake them (once!) or if they want an alarm clock. Stick with whatever you choose together, but then make it your child’s responsibility to be up on time. To help with keeping track of everyone’s schedules, post a family event calendar in a public place. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or just hang it on the wall. Assign a different marker color to each family member, and write events in the corresponding color for each person. A bulletin board in the kitchen is also very helpful to post school lunch options, sports schedules, and notes that must go back to school. Take time every night to discuss the next day’s schedule and make sure all items are ready. Here’s to the beginning of a great school year!

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March For Our Lives

This past Saturday, I joined over 1.5 million fellow Americans in the "March For Our Lives" protests organized mainly by teens around the country. These teens were asking for common sense gun control laws including stricter background checks, an age limit of 21 to purchase a gun, and a ban on bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons. And we were there to support them. The tens of thousands of people marching with me in San Jose were of every color, every age, every nationality, every gender, and included both gun owners and those who would never consider owning a gun. (I think you know which one I am.) As we marched in a light but steady rain, we discussed politics, every aspect of gun control, and what can be done to keep our kids safe. We chatted with each other and with strangers. Everyone was polite, friendly, and motivated to help bring about change. And while I felt determined and proud to be marching, I also felt so sad. My children now aged 33 and 29, did not have active shooter drills in their classrooms. They were not taught how to barricade their classroom doors. They were not scared to go to school in the morning. And while I taught my children about stranger danger, to lock the front door, and to be aware while walking alone, I did not have to discuss mass shootings with them. And I'm sad that so many young parents and young children are now having these conversations. So how do we talk about this with our children? Pre-schoolers don't need to be told about these adult issues. Make sure you are not discussing them or listening to the news with your children present. And go to all the marches you want. They will love being in a parade. Younger elementary school kids are being taught in school to hide under their desk and to be quiet during a drill, but they don't need to totally understand why. Just call it a Safety Drill, just like a Fire Drill. Older elementary kids can be told that there was a shooting in a school, but we don't have to share every detail. Explain that now all students, in every school, are practicing what to do if something like that happened in their school. (But we don't think it will.) And our middle and high school kids already know the news and the details, so use this as a teachable moment in time to discuss it with them. Ask what they think. Ask their opinions. Ask about how it feels at school or if kids are talking about it. And encourage them to look for their voice to be heard. What do you think? How do you feel? And what are you saying to your children? Please share your thoughts and ideas, so we can all learn from each other. This is tough.

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Four Academic Lessons to Teach at Home

Learning Is Fun photo Four Academic Lessons to Teach at Home Every parent wants their child to have a successful school year. Here are four lessons we can teach our kids at home, so they are better prepared for the lessons they learn at school. Teach Your Children to be Organized When children feel organized, are confident that they know what to do, and have all their needed materials, their confidence go up, and so does the quality of their work. Prepare a checklist of things your child needs to bring to and from school every day. Put a copy by the door at home and one in his backpack. Check often to see if your child is remembering the items on the list. Create a system with your child for recording their homework assignments. Even young children can use a planner or calendar. Pack backpacks at night. Gym clothes, notes for the teacher, school books, and homework can be packed in the evening, leaving just a lunchbox to be added in the morning. Design a plan for how kids will remember to turn in their completed assignments. Many kids do their homework, but fail to turn it in. A separate "Homework Binder" might help. Teach Your Children to Manage Their Time Wisely Some homework assignments are due in one week, two weeks, or longer. Teach your kids how to complete those assignments without waiting until the last minute. Record all assignments on a calendar by breaking it down into small pieces. For a book report, the steps might be: choose the book, read the book, write the outline, create the cover page, type and print the report, put all the parts together. Add "Work on book report" to the list of nightly assignments. Plan how much time is needed for homework each night. Completing the toughest assignment first might work for some kids, while others will wait until after dinner for a parent to help with that one. Use the "First this, and then that" method. "First you complete your homework and get your backpack ready for tomorrow, and then you can watch TV." Teach Your Children How to Focus While many teens do their homework in a sea of distractions, we need to limit the distractions that our younger kids experience. Give your child a snack when they get home from school. It is hard to focus when hungry. Keep the computer in a public place, and restrict the use of email or games while doing their work. You do not need to keep a constant vigil; you do need to check often. If they do make the choice to break the rule, then they will lose the use of the computer for fun that night. Find a quiet place with few distractions for a homework station. Playful siblings and the TV can be huge distractions, and so the homework station should be fairly quiet. Teach Your Children How to Enjoy School Our children have many years of school ahead of them, and many get burned out at a young age. The goal of school is to learn to love learning, not to get straight A’s. It is our job to promote a healthy, fun, and encouraging attitude towards school. Praise the effort, not the result. Hang some of their work on the fridge, and sometimes hang a paper with mistakes. Ask your child to tell you one thing about school each day; they don’t have to share every detail. Remember that it is your child’s assignment, not yours. Allow your kids to do their own work, supplying help when they ask for it. It’s okay if they make mistakes. Volunteer at the school when possible, go to Back-to-School night, get to know the teachers and students, and support the school’s policies and rules.

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