At home, encourage learning, promote a healthy lifestyle and communicate openly and regularly. Attend parent-teacher conferences and events and volunteer.
When parents are involved, everyone benefits. Children are more likely to get better grades, feel better about themselves and school, take more challenging classes, behave better, have good social skills and continue education beyond high school.
Involved parents have a closer, more enjoyable relationship with their children, understand them better, can identify and resolve problems sooner.
Parents should create a safe, calm home environment and develop a consistent routine that allows children the ability to learn more effectively. Daily reading helps expand knowledge, build vocabulary and develop imagination. Teachers and counselors can give you ideas to promote reading and writing and incorporate math into everyday activities.
Let your child see you reading. Share examples of how you benefited from having an education and how you continue to learn each day.
Praise your child for listening, doing a task well or being a good sport; and allow them to do tasks even if they don’t do them perfectly. Encourage efforts and display their completed work and projects.
Most children need 10-11 hours of sleep; teenagers need 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours. Consistent bedtimes and routines are a must. Encourage physical activity and healthy eating, and be an example of eating healthy.
Although children need fun time, it is best to establish limits. There are quality and educational programs on TV, but it is a good idea to limit TV and video games. Encourage more physical activity, study time, or other healthy alternatives. Watch your child’s Internet use. The Internet can be a great resource for homework, but it can also be harmful. Set limits for Internet and keep the computer in a common area; talk about dangers of cyberbullying and online predators; and be clear about keeping personal information off the web. You can purchase software that will allow you to block inappropriate material.
Make expectations clear, and explain consequences, which should be fair and ageappropriate, and stick to them. Make sure your child is aware of the dangers of bullying and peer pressure. Be clear that no child should ever bully or mistreat another child. Let your children know that they can always come to you if they are having a problem. Talk about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs and keep that conversation going.
Find out about school schedules and have your children tell you when they have exams, reports, projects or presentations. That way, you can help them manage their time and learn to take control of their own self-management.
Check your child’s progress on the school Web site. Celebrate successes, and help them figure out what they are missing and how they can get on track.
Discuss decisions regarding classes, projects, extracurricular activities and college preparation. Help your children set high, realistic goals to stay motivated and reach their full potential.
As your children get older, watch for changes in behavior, such as grades dropping, and talk about them. Pay attention to signs of depression, bullying, or tobacco, alcohol or other drug use. Get help from your health care provider if you suspect there is a problem.
Continue to communicate your expectations and modify rules as appropriate.
Help your child to keep a balanced schedule between school, studying, sleep and work or extracurricular activities.
In middle and high school, peer influences and social activities increase. Let your children know they are loved; offer guidance, ask questions, listen and stay open-minded and resist responding in a harsh or critical manner.
Discuss money management and teach your child about every day tasks such as filling up a gas tank, tipping at a restaurant, how to cook and do laundry.
It’s never too early to talk about plans after high school. Discuss the benefits of a college education as well as other opportunities. Help them make plans to achieve these goals.
You may have obstacles such as being a single parent, working more than one job, limited reading or writing skills, speaking another language or perhaps living in a different home than your child. Your involvement is still important.
Most important is keeping open communication with your child, teachers, family, friends, and other parents.
Your child’s school counselor is there to help you, too. We know the value of helping our parents because it also helps our students.
You can make a difference. Please get involved and help your children make the most out of their education!
Jennifer Stark is counselor at Port Aransas High School.