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Parenting Tips: Help your Child Navigate the Challenges of School

12 Nov 2014 – 04:09 PM EST

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As a special educator and private tutor, I work closely with parents and their children who struggle in school. The current educational environment is very different than it was when I was a child. Educational legislation has led to increased high stakes standardized testing, more challenging academic standards, and more complex curricula. These 10 parenting tips will help you support your child’s educational journey, even when he/she is struggling.

  1. Support your child’s teacher. You want your child to respect his/her teacher, so it’s important to that you respect the teacher as well. Even if you disagree with the manner in which the teacher is instructing your child, do not let this be known to your child.
  2. Learn new methods. I see a lot of parents who are resistant to learning the new instructional methods (particularly in math) that are being taught. The only way to truly help our children is to learn how to teach them. Take the time to read through your child’s textbooks and assignments to provide the necessary support.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you do not feel comfortable helping your child with his/her homework, consider hiring a tutor. Based on the individual’s education and experiences, tutors generally run about $30 – $75/hour.
  4. Praise your child. Make your child feel good about what he/she has accomplished in school. Use specific praise so your child knows exactly what he/she did correctly, like “Wonderful job earning an A on your spelling test!” or “Great work doing research for your project!”
  5. Make learning fun. Engage your child in real-life learning experiences. Plant a garden, go to a local museum, play educational BINGO games. Children love opportunities to make learning fun!
  6. Focus on what your child has learned rather than grades. While grades may indicate, to some degree, how your child is performing in class, it’s also important to look at the individual skills he/she has mastered. A grade is just a number, but skill mastery acknowledges what your child has actually learned.
  7. Schedule parent-teacher conferences regularly. Teachers enjoy working with proactive parents who are genuinely concerned with their child’s school performance. Communicate with the teacher regularly so you know how you can best support your child’s learning.
  8. Understand your child socially. While academics can be a challenge, some children really need support in the area of social skills development. Listen to your child’s social challenges, and encourage your child to make like-minded friends by hosting playdates and planning outings with his/her peers.
  9. Ask your child about his/her day. Show a sincere interest in what your child has accomplished at school each day. Ask specific questions about activities and tasks.

10. Most importantly, when your child is struggling, remember to be patient. Rather than showing your frustration, show compassion. Some children are fast learners, some children take more repetition to learn the same material, and that is okay. Patience is key.
I hope these parenting tips help you and your child confidently navigate school challenges!