SDEA offers tips to parents to start the new school year

SDEA offers tips to parents to start the new school year The beginning of a new school year can be the start of a journey toward success if parents, students and teachers work together. Here are some suggestions from the South Dakota Education Association/NEA for parents who want to help their child start the new year right.

* Getting into a routine

Talk about school and your child's classes. Discuss expectations — catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, learning classroom rules and finding out what's ahead. Take note of how you feel about your child's school experience. If you are anxious, try not to communicate it.

* Getting to know you

Make time to get to know your child's teacher and classroom aide. Let the teacher know that you appreciate feedback on your child's progress — both positive and negative. Alert the teacher to anything out of the ordinary that is going on with your child or family. Make a point of meeting other school staff members: the principal, school secretary, bus driver, cafeteria staff and others who work at the school. The better you know the school and how it operates, the more likely your child will be to have a productive and positive school experience.

* A place of one's own

Whether it's a bedroom desk or the kitchen table, every child needs a regular place to study and complete homework. This area should be well lighted and equipped with school supplies like paper, pencils, and a dictionary. Siblings should respect the time set aside for studying and not distract the child who is doing homework.

* Kids (and parents) love routines

Set aside a specific time for studying every night. Discuss with your child what time of day would work best. Right after school? Just before dinner? Immediately following dinner? If your child attends an after-school program, find out if students will be expected to do homework there. If your child completes homework assignments away from home, plan to review the work at a set time every night. If homework has already been completed, have the child use study time for reading or reviewing problem areas.

* Create high expectations

To learn, children must believe that they can learn. As the parent, you are the most important adult in your child's life. The feedback you give your child — what you say and do about his or her abilities — will have a lasting impact on your child's self-confidence. Be encouraging, and praise your child for the amount of effort that he puts into a project.

* Reading can be contagious

Research shows that children who are read to in their early years do better in school. Make reading a habit in your home, for both you and your child. Each night before bed, read to your child for at least 20 minutes. If the child is learning to read, ask him or her to read to you. For older children, set 30 minutes aside each night for family reading time when everyone reads together silently. Keep plenty of reading materials available — books, magazines, and newspapers. Let your kids see you reading and they are more likely to pick up the habit.

* Be prepared for your next parent-teacher conference

Talk with your child beforehand about what she thinks are her best subjects or what he likes least. Find out if your child has anything that he or she would like you to ask. Write down your own list of questions. Feel free to ask about your child's progress or about anything you don't understand about the school program. Expect the teacher to show you samples of your child's work and to discuss how student progress is measured. Ask how your child interacts with other students. Most importantly, talk to the teacher about ways you can work together to help your child.

* Schools + communities = success

To be effective, schools need the support of parents and the community. Find out key dates during the year when there will be opportunities for you to participate in school events. Mark your family calendar and your personal datebook now to hold those dates. Look for specific ways that you can support your child's school. Volunteer a few hours a week in the classroom. Offer to speak to your child's class (or others) about a special hobby or area of expertise. Encourage a local business to adopt your child's school. Join the PTA to ensure that you have a voice in the work of the school. Offer to help with a special school project. Organize a school beautification day.

* Free materials available from SDEA/NEA

The South Dakota Education Association has a variety of free materials available to parents who want to help their child succeed in school.

Stranger Danger — Teaches children the danger of strangers.

Your Family Tree — Fill in your family tree and discover more about you.

Coaching Your Child (and You) Through Adolescence — Parental guide to supporting and accepting children through pre-teen and teen years.

Parents, Teachers and Students Make It a Winning Team — Parental involvement in education; television strategies that help educationally.

Everything the Baby-sitter Needs to Know — advice for the absent parents and the baby-sitter.

ABCs of Good Nutrition — important food information to keep children healthy.

Grown-up Decisions & Adult Consequences That Teens Often Have to Face — encourages teens to make the right decisions when dealing with peer pressure, day-to-day problems and the changes happening in their lives.

Parent Power Recipe Cards — for grades K-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12. Ideas to help your children at home.

To request any of these brochures, contact Sheri Wiechmann at SDEA/NEA, 411 East Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501, e-mail or call 1-800-529-0090.

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