Bell: Column

Thursday, August 30, 2007 7:00 pm

Start Date:  8/30/2007  All Day  
End Date:  8/30/2007    
<![CDATA[

The bells have rung and school is back in session, leaving parents and children alike both apprehensive and excited about what the new school year will bring. As parents, it is our job to make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible. Each year brings new and exciting opportunities, so keep a positive and enthusiastic attitude and your child will, too. 

The first few weeks of school can be the most difficult for children, as they work to establish a new routine.  During this time, try to spend as much time as possible talking with your child and learning about how her day went. As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher, so use this opportunity to reinforce your child's confidence and optimism. Reassure your child that it is okay to be nervous and that with a little time, everything will be fine.

Talking to your child about what is happening in school is critical.  When you demonstrate an interest in your child's day it will encourage your child to be interested in what is happening at school.  These informal talks are also a great time to discuss homework assignments and to get an idea of what your child's homework load will entail. A good way to familiarize yourself with this year's curriculum is to review your child's textbooks. To stay up to date with what is being taught; ask your child what she learned each day. This will also help jog her memory and may be a helpful way to double check and make sure all homework assignments are completed. This also gives your child an opportunity to express any frustrations with material or certain subjects. If your child is having difficulty with homework, utilize either the excellent tutoring and homework help resources available within our community or use the internet to find help.  A very helpful website is http://school.discovery.com/homeworkhelp/bjpinchbeck/. This website offers help with multiple subjects and caters to a wide range of learning levels from elementary school to upper level high school.

Another issue for parents is children that procrastinate doing their homework. This can become a dreaded nightly battle, so it is important to establish good management skills early. One of the best ways to do this is with a reward system, which can easily be tailored to the needs of your child. If your child enjoys playing outside or watching TV, use this as a reward and set up a time that allows her to do activities and homework. Establish deadlines and help her budget her time. Then allow her to work independently while quietly monitoring her progress. If she does not meet the deadline, don't give her a reward. This may be a rough transition at first, but eventually she will adapt to the routine. Remember that as a parent, you are in charge.  Over time, this will help her develop study and time management skills that will benefit her for years to come.

The start of school also brings parent-teacher conferences and open houses. This is your opportunity to develop a relationship with your child's teacher and classmates and to experience your child's daily routine. The greatest assistance we can offer our children's teachers is to be engaged in our children's academic development.  Between the ages of six and eighteen, your child will only spend 16% of their time within the walls of the school.  What you do to support your child's education during the other 84% of their time is critical to your child's academic success.  The teachers I know in our community want the very best for our children.  Be their ally and support them in their crucially important work.  Being at school events also provides you with a chance to introduce yourself to your other parents. This will allow you to organize play dates or learn about extracurricular activates that could benefit your child.   

Being involved demonstrates to your child that you care about her education and want to help her succeed. If you don't show interest in learning, your child won't either, so remember to be positive and encourage your child to do her best. Have a great school year!

-30-

Visit us online at www.in.gov/legislative