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Health Watch/Taryn Mack, Institute director

Helping your child succeed at school

September 13, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

Though we've had some warm weather lately, summer is over now that the school year has begun. Getting back into the school year routine can take a bit of time as kids have to get up earlier and be more organized.

There are ways parents or caregivers can help students succeed during the school year. It can start as soon as your child gets off the bus or walks home after school. Having a set time and place to do homework is very important. It can be in their room, at the kitchen table or kitchen counter. Give your child time to eat a snack and play after they get home from school and then start homework. Your job is to assist the process by setting times and areas, and being available to give advice and encouragement. You don't necessarily need to understand what your child is trying to learn in order to help them learn to figure it out for themselves. The big trap to avoid: DON'T DO CHILDREN'S HOMEWORK FOR THEM.

If you have access to a computer at home, many schools have parent listserves, teacher homework assignments, grades posted, etc. that you can access online. This will help you be aware of what expectations the school has for your child. There are also websites schools can recommend for students that need or want to spend more time on a particular subject.

It is important if your child is struggling with a subject to talk with the teacher right away. If you wait too long, for instance the first parent/teacher conference, it can be hard for your child to catch up. Schools may have options like tutoring that could benefit your child. Make sure you are encouraging your child and not discouraging. Praise your child's efforts and avoid negative statements.

Getting involved in your child's school is also important to show your child that you support their school. Participating in open houses, parent nights, family fairs, etc. shows your child that you think school is important. Get to know your child's teacher by meeting the teacher face to face, emailing the teacher, sending notes to the teacher or asking their advice. A positive parent-teacher relationship is another important step in helping your child succeed in school.

Finally, getting organized at the end of the day can help alleviate some of the stress the next morning. Packing lunch, snack, homework, etc. the night before can alleviate running around in the morning looking for things with very little time. It can also help to lay out clothes the night before, finding shoes, coats, mittens, etc. That way if you wake up late you don't have to rush around looking for things.

Our goal as parents is to help our children succeed in school. Lessons kids learn in school can be applied throughout their life. Children who are successful in school have a much better chance of being successful later in life.

Editor's note: Taryn Mack is Institute director with Copper Country Mental Health Institute.



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