Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: school

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    Dealing with Homework Pressures

    At the beginning of the school year, a second grade teacher in Texas sent this letter home to her classroom parents:

    After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.

    Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.

    Thanks, Mrs. Brandy Young

    A parent posted the letter on Facebook with a hearty thank you to the teacher. It went viral as parents nationwide expressed frustration at the amount of homework their children had, along with the stress it created in their home.

    Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman is a clinical director at New England Center for Pediatric Psychology who contributed to a study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy regarding homework. She has serious concerns about the amount of homework children have and its impact on them.

    “One study found kindergartners were given 25 minutes or more of homework,” says Donaldson-Pressman. “Homework for kindergartners is supposed to be nonexistent. Children at this age need to be playing outside, experiencing the early stages of socialization, learning how to play, how to share so they are finessing their motor skills. Family activities and play are more important than homework at this age.”

    Donaldson-Pressman believes parents have a lot more control than they realize. Parents can set limits for how long their child does homework.

    The National Education Association recommends only 10 minutes per grade level per night. The same study that found kindergartners spend too much time on homework also found that first graders spent 25 to 30 minutes. By third grade, kids spent more than a half-hour per night. Donaldson-Pressman noted that in her practice, some third graders spent two to four hours on homework - and their parents can’t help them.

    According to Donaldson-Pressman, the data shows that homework over the recommended time is not beneficial to children’s grades or GPA. Evidence actually suggests that it’s detrimental to their attitude about school, grades, self-confidence, social skills and quality of life.

    If homework creates stress in your home, Donaldson-Pressman says you can help decrease the angst if you:

    • Create a quiet place to do homework.

    • Try to do homework at the same time every day.

    • Set a timer for 10 minutes for a first-grader, and then have them stop. Fourth graders need to move on to something else after 40 minutes.

    As a parent, you probably already know how important it is for children of all ages to get enough rest. Plus, you want them to have time to play, develop friendships outside of school hours and engage in family activities.

    In addition to managing the homework situation, assessing your child’s activities and how much pressure kids feel to perform can help. Hopefully, these ideas can allow your family to enjoy more quality time together after a long day at work and school.

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    10 Ways to Help Your Teen Succeed in School

    When children first start school, parents usually have a pretty clear understanding of how to help their child have a successful year. But when those kids become teenagers, parents sometimes struggle with their role.

    Parents usually play a much more active role with younger kids in making sure homework is completed, volunteering in the classroom, dealing with friendships, interacting with teachers and making sure their child gets enough rest. Too often, though, parents believe they can be less involved when a child moves from elementary to middle school.

    While parents may want to change how they engage their tween when it comes to school success, research indicates this is not the time for parents to back off. The tween/teen years bring their own unique challenges, and teens aren’t sure how to talk with their parents or any other adult about many of them.

    If you want to actively engage your teens and help them have a successful school year, these ideas can help you out.

    • Have a back-to-school discussion about expectations. Ask them what they want to accomplish this year and discuss ways you can help them reach their goals.

    • Establish healthy sleep patterns. When it comes to rest, plenty of research indicates that tweens/teens do not get enough sleep. On average, teens need 9.25 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. For various reasons though, many of them get significantly less than that. You can help with this by teaching them organizational skills. Have them look at their overall schedule of school and extracurricular activities, then develop a plan.

    • If you are still waking your teen for school, purchase an alarm clock - their phone doesn’t count. Make them responsible for getting themselves up in the morning.

    • Set a budget. Instead of constantly forking out money for this and that, allot a certain amount for school supplies, clothing, extracurricular activities, etc. and teach them how to manage this money. If they want to purchase things that aren’t included in the plan, resist the urge to figure it out for them. Instead, guide them in finding ways they can earn the extra cash.

    • Give them added responsibilities such as doing their own laundry, assisting with meal preparation and packing lunches.

    • Talk with them about the qualities of healthy relationships - friendships, dating relationships, relationships with teachers and school administrators. Discuss how to treat people with respect even if they aren’t respectful in return.

    • Avoid handling their problems for your teen. Talk with them about the issue, then help them problem-solve and determine a course of action. Facing a challenge head-on and making it to the other side is a huge confidence-builder.

    • Be clear about your expectations when it comes to bullying behavior. Research indicates parents are often the last to know when this is going on - whether your teen is the bully or the victim.

    • Talk about addiction. Discuss the opioid crisis and the impact of drugs and alcohol. This conversation makes it more likely for your teen to talk with you when they do encounter challenges.

    • Be very clear about your expectations and consequences for lack of follow-through, and avoid putting anything out there that you will not enforce. A great rule of thumb is this: less is more. Remind them that nothing they can do would make you love them any more or any less. Your teen needs to know you believe in them.

    The teen years are incredibly challenging because everything in their world is changing. Their brain is growing, their body is changing, relationships are different, and they are establishing their independence while still being dependent in many ways. While they may be taller than their parents and seem smarter, especially when it comes to technology, it’s good to remember that 12 is just 12 and 15 is only 15.

    Be present. Keep your eyes wide open. Let them make mistakes. Be there - not to lecture them - but to help them figure out what they could do differently in the future. Stay focused on your goal of launching someone who is capable of caring for themselves and being a productive person.

    Even though they may begin to push you away, adolescents need their parents. Don’t be lulled into believing they needed you more when they were younger. The truth is, they need you now more than ever as they navigate the potentially-turbulent teen years.