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How to Give Your Child a Head Start in School

As we get deeper into the school year and children begin to feel the pressure of homework, tests and book reports, parents are asking themselves how to make this school year a noteworthy one. Family therapist and parent support counselor Susan Lieberman suggests ways a parent can help their child achieve success in school.

  • Develop a routine within the home around bedtimes, mornings, mealtimes, chores and responsibilities. This type of structure gives kids an increased sense of security and confidence.
  • Stay in contact with the teacher, attend meetings, read newsletters, volunteer for school events and attend parent/teacher interviews. This helps open the lines of communication and improve the relationship between you and the school.
  • Give your child practical and everyday experience (at home) with reading, writing and math.
  • Encourage get-togethers with classmates and other kids to help make school more enjoyable.
  • Work out a homework schedule with your child including where the homework is done and how much time is to be spent on it. Provide a quiet, clean workspace whether it be at a desk or kitchen table. Make your child responsible for their homework and make sure there are consequences in place (by yourself and/or the teacher) should the homework not get done. • Limit television watching and time on the computer. As much as possible children should spend their extra time developing skills through physical activity, arts and crafts, reading and socializing.
  • Catch academic, behavioral and/or social problems before they get out of hand or go too far. Deal with issues as they come up instead of waiting to see if things will improve.
  • Know what is going on in your child’s life.
  • If something goes wrong and your child fails a test or a subject, offer support and understanding, encouragement and a chance to redeem him or herself.
  • Do not sweat the hairdos, clothes or music of otherwise happy students and kids.
  • Show your child how you work hard and learn new things. Help him/her find answers to difficult questions in books, library resources or on the internet.

And most importantly…

  • Be positive about school; on a regular basis talk to your child about their day at school, get excited about upcoming lessons and events and support the teacher as well as your child.

Susan Lieberman is in private practice in Toronto as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information call (416) 512-6356.

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