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Homing In On Education
Forge a school-home connection and keep it strong!

Sometimes getting a child to talk about school is like opening a can of cat food with a hammer. It can be rather difficult, and when you finally get it open, you might not like what you smell.

Instead, implement the following tips to give your child's education an edge and to ... well, snoop around.

Teacher to teacher

As your child's primary educator, take a team approach with his schoolteacher. By this time of year, the teacher probably is familiar with your child's unique qualities.

Not so? Arrange a meeting pronto. Is shyness mistaken for lack of interest? Is your child's learning style unrecognized and thus jeopardizing good grades? Are there ways to challenge your exceptional reader?

Can you and the teacher find a way to boost your child's self-esteem? Would there be an opportunity in class to talk about a medal won in a dance competition?

Sometimes parents do not share a learning, home life, or behaviour issue with their child's school. Dr. Frances Kroeker, Principal of Edmonton's Millwoods Christian School, encourages parents to do this. She says, "[Teachers] need to know [kids'] special needs up front. This does not label them; rather it helps us to meet their needs promptly and effectively."

On the flip side, listen carefully to the teacher's perception of your child. Due to the nature of her job, she might point out strengths and weaknesses you might not see.

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Home study

Reinforce school curriculum at home. In addition to looking over assignments and talking to the teacher; Albertans can find their child's curriculum online. For example, Albertans can visit parents resources to find information by grade level.

Then, if your child is studying famous artists, you can visit an art museum together, research artists online, and ask detailed questions.

In addition, Kroeker suggests, "Read with your kids and then read some more with your kids! Ask them to explain their homework to you. Discuss politics and world affairs."

Think of home as "home base." This is where your student should be filling up on good nutrition, the correct amount of sleep, and ample encouragement. These ingredients go a long way toward mental preparation for learning.

As well, home base can be a filter for those ingredients students should not have an overabundance of: television, video games, and aimless Internet use.

Do we have a volunteer?

Schools need a variety of volunteers. Are you a go-getter? Analyze your school to see what's missing. Is there a yearly program for teaching parents appropriate homework support? Are there enough events held for families such as carnivals, family fun nights, or concerts? Do you have an idea for a fundraiser or a speaker? Take your ideas to the principal and/or parent-teacher association to put the wheels in motion.

If you're happier helping where a need is established, Kroeker suggests you volunteer for "the endless hours of supervision time" many schools need. Think library, lunchroom, schoolyard, or fieldtrip duties.

Think of home as "home base."

Volunteering for committees is a great way to make use of talents. Writers can work on school newsletters. Artists or green thumbs can assist with school beautification. Bakers can run bake sales. Those passionate about reading might take on the school book fair.

Bubbly parents are helpful for promoting sporting events, concerts, plays, and fundraisers. "Generate some excitement about what is taking place," says Kroeker. "Let the community know the good things that are happening at your school."

A is for Attitude

"Your attitude ... will help determine how your child feels about school," says the Edmonton Public Schools website.

Demonstrate the importance of school: Make sure you know and abide by school rules. Talk about your own education. Praise efforts over grades.

Make sure your child witnesses your appreciation for his teacher. Make appearances as a reader; speaker; or assistant, "Take the time to nominate teachers for awards," says Kroeker. Better still, "Pray [with your kids] for their teachers and classmates."

Through a hands-on approach to your child's education, you can inspire all involved. Your participation is also a testament of your thankfulness that the Great Teacher has provided your child with the blessing of an education in the first place.

Kim Perrone enjoys writing inspirational parenting, family and human interest articles for publications such as Living Light News. She can be reached at Visit her website, Nuggets of Knowledge.

Originally published in Living Light News,December 2007.




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