Teach listening by example
There isn't a class at school called "Listening." That's because listening is important in ALL school classes. One of the best ways to teach your child to listen is to set an example. Each day, set aside some time to talk about school. Ask questions to get the ball rolling. Then stop what you're doing and pay attention to what your child is saying. Make eye contact as you listen, and give your child time to put thoughts into words.
Academic fitness helps your teen compete in life
Schools across the nation are working to help students become "academically fit" so they can succeed in an increasingly competitive world. To help at home, set high (but still realistic) expectations for your teen's achievement. Encourage daily reading and frequent writing. Then, find out what he is learning in core subjects like math, science, history and English, and help him relate the material to what's going on in the world or in your lives.
A 'checkbook' can help your child account for money
Giving a child an allowance is one way to teach financial responsibility. But you may not always have the right cash on hand. Give your child a "checkbook." Make up some checks that look like the real thing. On the first day of the month, "deposit" your child's allowance in the checkbook. When he needs to make a purchase, he can write you a check, and you can pay for the item. He'll get practice writing and learn math skills in the bargain.
Bust the myths that prevent math success
Does your teen believe that "You're either born a math person or you're not"? This is a common math myth. Give your teen the facts: Great teaching and hard work are what make someone a math person. Here's another myth to bust: "Math takes too much memorization and repetition." The truth is that math is about learning patterns. Once a student is familiar with them, the problems make sense and the math starts to be fun.
Rev up your read-aloud routine
Want to strengthen your child's vocabulary, improve her reading scores and have fun…all in 20 minutes a day? Read aloud! Try these hints for effective read-alouds: Pick a regular reading time and stick to it. Look for books you'll both like. If you preview them yourself first, you can read them aloud with style for your child. Finally, stop each reading session while your child is still eager to hear what will happen next.
Stop a tobacco habit before it starts
According to one survey, teens are most likely to begin smoking between the ages of 13 and 15. And the fact is that people who start smoking as teens also have a harder time quitting. Discuss the dangers of tobacco use in all its forms (including vaping) with your teen, and remind her that once she begins she may not be able to stop. Don't wait until your teen gets older before discouraging tobacco use. By then, it may be too late.
Reach out to the counselor with questions or concerns about school
Whether your child is facing pandemic-related issues or you have more typical learning or development questions, the school counselor is a great resource. Here are just a few of the issues you can talk about together: Concerns about schoolwork and school access. Worries about any social or discipline issues. Your child's strengths, limitations or special needs. Thoughts about your student's education goals. Counselors even help elementary schoolers begin to think about career interests.
Help your teen make smart choices when dealing with peer pressure
Peer pressure can be both positive and negative. But all peer pressure requires kids to make a decision: "Should I do what others want me to do?" Discuss peer pressure with your teen. Ask, "How would you feel if you gave in?" Role-play ways to handle peer-pressure situations, such as by using humor. And stick to your rules and values. Your teen may test them, but you'll reinforce your message if you say "That is not OK."
Families are valued partners in education
There is a mountain of evidence showing that family engagement makes a big difference in children's education. Your involvement can improve student achievement and attendance, and give your child a more positive attitude toward school. Plus, you'll get a better understanding of school programs and policies. Ask the teacher or principal how you can get involved.
Share tips for finding friends
Teens sometimes think they'd have more friends if they were in the popular crowd. But to make friends, all they need to do is look for other kids who are seeking friendships, too. Encourage your teen to look for signs of openness, such as making room for someone to sit down. Then she can show interest by asking questions. "I always see you with that case. What instrument do you play?" Remind your teen that new friendships take time to grow.
Give your child the facts about tough topics
Experts say the best time to begin talking to kids about difficult issues is when they are between ages nine and 11. They're old enough to grasp the complexity of an issue. But they're still young enough to listen. When you talk together, find out what your child already knows. Share facts without exaggerating, and explain your position. Then set a good example by making sure your actions support your words.
Make sure your working teen has time for schoolwork
Many high school students will be looking for part-time jobs during this school year. Jobs can have great benefits for teens, but they shouldn't interfere with students' school performance. Remember that school accounts for at least 30 hours each week (and an activity can add 10 more). Limit your teen's employment hours to 10 per week, and watch his grades. If they drop, he should cut back on work hours. School is your teen's main job.
Use a conversation game to find out about school
To encourage conversations about school, play a game called "My Day, Your Day." In the evening, let your child ask you a question about your day. After you answer, you get to ask a question about his day. This helps him feel involved instead of interrogated. Ask questions that require more than a one-word answer. Specific questions, like "What did you do in math today?" are better than general ones like "How was your day?"
School counselors are helping teens move forward
Many people mistakenly assume that school counselors are there only to help students get into college. But they do much more, including helping students and families cope with the pandemic's effects. Counselors can help students set goals, solve problems, handle conflicts and monitor progress. They can guide students' course selection to maximize future options and help find resources for extra help. Counselors will make time to meet with students and parents who ask.
Let your child know that science and math are for everyone
Research suggests that children's attitudes toward math and science tend to be set in elementary school, and their parents' attitudes play a part in this. Support success in these subjects by expressing confidence in your child's abilities to master them. Point to diverse role models, and let your child know that math and science are for everyone, not just one kind of person.
Reinforce your teen's sense of self-respect
Many teens deny their own talents and adapt their personalities to fit in. Encourage your teen to ask, "Who am I and what do I want?" instead of always asking "What must I do to make these people like me?" Help your student identify and pursue personal strengths, talents and interests. At home, model the respect and equality you want your teen to feel in the outside world.
Encourage creative writing, one sentence at a time
A little daily writing practice helps your child build skills. To make it fun, give her a special notebook and ask her to write down the first sentence of a made-up story. Then each day, have her add one sentence, and only one, to move the story along. It's helpful to set aside a regular time for this writing. Once a week, have her add an illustration. In time, your child will have written an imaginative and fun story.
Limits provide structure that lets your teen grow
Your teen may be telling you that he is old enough to do what he wants. But teens are too young to make all their own decisions. They need limits to stay out of trouble and learn responsibility. Limits also show teens that their parents care about them. Once you and your teen establish rules and consequences, change them only when you both agree he has proved he can handle more responsibility.
Can you collect all the letters on an alphabet hike?
Turn an ordinary walk into an alphabet hike and have some learning fun! Have your child write the alphabet on a piece of paper. Then grab a grocery bag and set out together to find one item that starts with each letter. Pull up a Dandelion, pick up a Penny, dig for a Worm. When you get home, ask your child to arrange the items in alphabetical order.
Quick phone look-ups don't lead to long-term learning
Research shows that when students look up answers to schoolwork questions on their phones, they often don't remember them long term—and they score lower on tests of the material later. Encourage your teen to find the answer for herself—by solving the problem, checking her notes or looking in a textbook. After she's got it, she can use her phone to double-check.