Education Views - December 2005

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Halfway Through The School Year
Doing Better During the Rest of the School Year
December 2005
by Barry H. Willen, Executive Director of Sylvan Learning Centers in Eldersburg and Westminster

With the holidays coming up and winter break beginning, parents and students need to assess how the first half of the school year has gone. You need to renew or strengthen your commitment to helping your child make the most of the remaining school year. Here’s how.

Review and renew. Sit down with your child and assess how things have gone at school thus far. Ask your child: What can we do to make the second half of the year as good as, or better than, the first half? Be specific. Have your child come up with some concrete examples of subject areas in which he excelled, and why, as well as areas that need improvement, and ways to make that happen. Then, take the list out on a regular basis throughout the remainder of the year as a reminder of your commitments.

Stay involved. As children progress from the earlier to the more advanced grades, they are required to take on increasing amounts of responsibilities. Though your children need to eventually become independent, they still need your assistance now. Parents must stay involved every step of the way, but do not get too intrusive. Know how much homework he needs to do, when he has tests, and when long-term projects are due. Research shows that the most successful students have one thing in common; they have involved parents.

Commit to communicate. Make it your New Year’s resolution to have daily discussions with your child about school. If your child does not seem willing to talk about what happens at school, check your approach. What’s your tone? Are you judgmental? Are you attempting to solve problems or give advice? If your child feels threatened by your motives, he’s likely to clamp down. But if you simply listen, chances are you’ll get more out of him. Also, if you have not maintained periodic communication with your child’s teachers, start doing that as well. Talking with her teacher will help you to find out what happens at school.

Take time for family. Children should spend as much time building family memories as they are evaluating academic progress. Strengthening bonds with your children in non-pressure situations, will help make it easier for them to turn to you for academic support.

This column is contributed by Barry H. Willen, Executive Director of Sylvan Learning Centers in Eldersburg and Westminster.

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