By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
September is here and school begins again. Some children are “cheerful consumers” and can’t wait to learn everything that their teachers give them. Others are less interested and hope to avoid homework whenever possible.
Many readers are familiar with the child who says, “I don’t have any homework. I did it in school.” They end up with a poor grade because the homework was not done. I can hear your sighs of recognition right now. To avoid this vicious circle, I recommend that all students have a daily study time ritual to start the year off right.
A daily study time of 10-30 minutes (depending upon your child’s age) will help you to avoid the “no homework” issue. Homework assignments can be completed during study time (please allow for breaks – more on this in Homework Helper). If there is no homework, the student can re-read academic chapters, read ahead about what will be taught next, create and memorize flash cards or review math problems (choose problems that have answers in the back of the book to self-check). If the child realizes that they will have to work anyway, they are much more likely to work on homework assignments (more homework strategies in the future, too). If they don’t have homework to do, they will benefit by increasing their knowledge and practicing study techniques.
Another important tool to support your child’s success is regular communication. Discuss report cards and mid-progress reports with your child and determine how you can work together to make improvements.
If your child has a history of poor grades, incomplete work or difficulty with concepts, then it is important to initiate regular communication with the teacher(s). It is your duty to follow up. Remember that you have one child in this teacher’s class while the teacher is responsible for 20-150 students. If it is unlikely that your child will bring a progress report home, send a weekly e-mail. I recommend a message similar to this:
I appreciate all that you do for _______. Please let me know if you have concerns about his/her attendance, homework completion, grades or behavior. If there are any large projects or tests coming up, please let me know so I can help _____ to prepare. Thanks!
Only include the areas of concern for your student. If your child never has issues with attendance, don’t mention it. Keep it personalized for your child and brief.
If your child has special education certification or has been approved for a 504 Plan, then you are already having annual meetings with the school staff. I suggest information be given to all your child’s teachers at the beginning of the school year. The key person for this can be your child’s special education caseload teacher, the elementary classroom teacher or the child’s counselor. If no information exists, or if you feel compelled to present the information yourself, then that key person can set up a meeting with the teachers.
Try to set up a meeting for a few weeks into the semester so the teachers have time to get to know your child before you provide information. If there is a significant medical, emotional or physical impairment, then a meeting within the first few days of school may be needed.
The key to a successful meeting is to be polite, clear and brief. The participants probably have only 5-10 minutes to learn your concerns, and they want to best assist your child so:
- be appreciative.
- verbally share the key concerns (not your child’s history since birth).
- provide a short written summary and include your name, phone and e-mail.
- ask teachers to think about how this student’s challenges might impact the curriculum (i.e. note taking, oral presentations, attendance, test taking, timely homework completion, etc).
A few days later contact each teacher by e-mail. Ask the teacher if they have identified areas of concern that need to be negotiated or addressed with the student.
The key to a successful year is twofold. Establish a daily study time ritual and communicate respectfully with your child and the school so that parents, students and educators work together. Develop a partnership. If you have concerns, address them with the individual first, then your counselor and then the administrator if still needed.
Watch for more ideas in future articles, and contact me if I can be of help to you or your family.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
Published in Metro You Magazine, September 2010