Help your child stay organized with checklists
Help your child be organized for school by teaching him to use checklists. He can use a "head-to-toe" checklist to make sure he's ready to go out the door: "My hat is on my head, my coat is on my body, my backpack is on my back. My gloves are on my hands. My boots are on my feet." Have him make another list of items he needs for school each day. Post it where he can check it as he gets organized the night before.
Creating acronyms can help your child remember
To help your child learn lists of words or facts, teach her to use acronyms (words made up from the first letters of a group of words). To remember the names of the Great Lakes, for example, she can think of the acronym HOMES, which stands for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. What other acronyms can your child make up for lists of words to remember?
Celebrate Geography Awareness Week with a map activity
November 15-19 is Geography Awareness Week. Here's a fun activity that will give your child practice reading maps. Find a road map of the country online. Let your child choose a place he'd like to visit. Together, try to determine the best route. Have your child use the map's scale to estimate how many miles it is to your destination. How many hours or days would it take to drive there?
School friendships help students thrive
Children learn a lot from their friends, such as loyalty, sharing, leading and following. And research says friends can also help children do better in school. Children who know they have school friends are more likely to take positive risks, such as trying out for a team or participating in class. Encourage friendships by inviting your child's school friends to join your family for an activity.
Promote responsible choices with encouragement
You want your child to learn to make responsible choices, at home and at school. But constant lectures can wear him down. Instead, encourage good behavior by thanking him when he behaves responsibly on his own. Praise his efforts, not just their outcomes. And encourage your child's involvement in activities that keep him busy. Busy kids need less external control than those with too much time on their hands.
You are the teacher your child looks to most
Parents are their children's first teachers. Even after kids start school, they spend only about 16 percent of their time in class. Parents have the other 84 percent of their children's time. Make your child's education a priority for that time. You are her most influential teacher.
True or False? These strategies improve test success
Many tests feature True or False questions. Share these tips for answering them with your child: For the answer to be true, ALL of the information in the statement must be true. Your child should also think carefully if the statement contains absolute terms such as "always" or "never." And if he doesn't know the answer? A guess has a 50 percent chance of being right.
Learning perseverance is worth the effort
Perseverance is hard work. But your child's effort to develop the habit now will help him achieve in school. Teach him that "You're never a failure until you give up." Talk about a time when you wanted to give up, but didn't, and overcame an obstacle. Then have some fun: Set out a jigsaw puzzle to do together, and don't quit until the last piece is in!
Put the focus on learning with a hands-off approach
Sometimes parents help too much with their child's school projects. It can be really tempting. After all, you want your child to get good grades. But there is a better approach. Instead of thinking about grades, think about what your child can learn from doing the project herself. Ask the teacher about the best ways to support your child's efforts.
Celebrate the season with art projects
Art teaches many lessons, including cause and effect, problem-solving and self-expression. And it is creative fun! Help your child explore his artistic gifts by making some seasonal crafts together. To turn a brown paper lunch bag into a colorful turkey puppet, have your child draw a turkey's face on the bag's bottom. Then he can decorate half a paper plate like a turkey's tail. Glue the plate to the bag so it sticks up behind the face.
Show off your child's work in a special gallery
When you display your child's excellent and improved schoolwork, it builds his sense of himself as a capable student. But there isn't always room on the refrigerator. One mom created a family gallery by installing a strip of corkboard along a hallway wall, low enough for her children to reach. Now the kids put their own work up for family viewing, and the displays change all year long!
Chart the moon's phases with your child
Help your child learn more about the moon this month. Watch the moon together every evening. Keep track of when it rises, and help your child create a picture chart of how its shape changes during the month. Have her use her chart to answer questions: For how many days does the moon get bigger? Smaller? How many days does it remain full?
Reading brings the world to your home
Sometimes a pretend trip can be just as fun as a real one. You and your child can "visit" Italy, Argentina, Thailand or anywhere else…by way of the public library and the internet. Choose a country and ask each family member to gather information about it. Then plan a dinner of dishes from that country (check out a cookbook from the library) and discuss the interesting facts each of you has learned from your reading.
Nurture your child's inner motivation to learn
Successful learners are motivated more by their own curiosity than by any other reward. To promote this kind of "intrinsic motivation," allow your child some independence to explore the things he's learning about. Provide learning challenges he can be successful with. Then, when he completes a task, ask him to evaluate his own efforts. When you offer praise, compliment efforts more than accomplishments.
Break big tasks into small pieces to help your child see them through
Many elementary schoolers have a tough time thinking ahead and following through on their plans. One reason is that they lack a realistic sense of time. Your child may really think one day is enough time to finish a big project. Help her break large assignments down into small parts to do over several days.
Get your child's attention when giving directions
Does your child seem forgetful, absent-minded or irresponsible when you give directions? An ability to focus on instructions and carry them out is important to his school success. To help him concentrate, reduce distractions when you speak to him. Turn off the TV. Say things like "I know it's hard for you to pay attention, but I need to see your eyes when I'm talking to you." Then keep your instructions short.
Strengthen skills that improve social interactions
Swooping in and saving your child from social challenges won't help her learn to navigate them. Instead, develop her social survival skills. When she describes a social situation, ask questions like, "What did you do next?" This tells your child that she can act to affect the outcome of social interactions.
Teachers' tips can make a big difference in your child's learning
What do teachers wish that families would do to help their students be successful in school? Simple things: Set firm standards. Read to your child. Attend parent-teacher conferences. Communicate often with the teachers, and give them lots of information about your child's interests, strengths and weaknesses. When you team up with the teachers, you improve your child's chance of school success.
Routines are stability your child can count on
A feeling of security gives children the courage to face challenges. For most kids, that sense of security comes from feeling loved. It also comes from knowing that some things don't change, such as certain family routines. Set regular times for bed, meals, reading and studying. When schedules must change, let your child know how and why.
Healthy snack choices encourage positive food habits
Healthy food is fuel for growing bodies and brains. To help your child learn to make nutritious food choices, create an "anytime" shelf in your refrigerator. Stock it with a selection of healthy foods such as carrot sticks, broccoli "trees," cheese, chunks of melon and raisins. Then allow your child to help himself from this shelf any time he is hungry. He'll like choosing, and you'll know he's making healthy choices.