Wednesday, December 23, 2009

10 Ways to Promote Your Child’s Academic Success

1. Convey the value of education. Instilling the value of education in your child, starting at a young age, is the most important thing you can do to put him on the path toward academic success.

2. Get involved. Join the PTA, help out in the classroom, volunteer at a school event. When you set aside time in your busy schedule to get involved in your child’s education, she gets the message that school is important.

3. Make school a priority. Extracurricular activities are valuable and fun, but homework and studying should take precedence.

4. Promote school. Ask your child about his class work and homework, and respond with positive comments. “Talk school up. They (children) need to think this is the coolest thing on earth,” says one first grade teacher.

5. Watch what you say. Negative comments about your child’s teacher or about school influence your child’s perception and attitude.

6. Support school-related activities. Set aside a quiet place and time for your child to do her homework. Encourage activities that foster thinking and learning, such as reading, journal writing and practicing math skills.

7. Communicate. Ask your child if he studied for his test, completed his homework, or handed in his assignments. While most teachers will let you know if your child is falling behind, don’t wait for that phone call before you get involved.

8. Encourage personal responsibility. As your child gets older, allow her to assume more responsibility for resolving problems. Instead of contacting the teacher yourself if a problem arises, encourage your child to talk to the teacher. For example, if your child receives a poor grade on an assignment or test, suggest that she ask the teacher if she can do extra credit work to boost her grade.

9. Avoid pressure. Setting high expectations for your child is important. You want to encourage him to reach his potential. But avoid putting too much pressure on him, which can lead to anxiety.

10. Partner with the teacher. Develop a cooperative, positive relationship with your child’s teacher. Remember, your child’s teacher shares your goal—the academic success of your child. Children benefit the most when parents and teachers work together as partners.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Talk To The Student First

When a student is struggling with an academic, behavioral or social issue, it is important for the teacher to enlist the parent’s help in resolving the problem. But in the following guest blog entry, a middle school teacher explains why she approaches the student before making that phone call home.

Teachers and parents agree that communication between school and home is a key component to a successful academic year for the student. As a middle school teacher, I find that communicating with the student before making the phone call home leads to a more productive outcome for all parties.

In moments of frustration, whether it be an academic or discipline issue, a teacher may look for a quick fix by calling the parent immediately. Excluding emergency situations, my experience tells me to remove myself from the situation for a short period of time (a couple of hours or overnight) so I am calm and objective. After this time, discuss the situation with the student first. This arms you with valuable information (i.e. specifics and quotes!) to share with the parent during the phone call.

Having all pertinent information and details will eliminate back and forth communication and can clear up any incorrect information or confusion. Having all the facts and specifics prior to making the phone call arms the teacher with the confidence and ability to suggest a plan of action, thus moving in a positive direction to ensure success for the student—the common goal of all parties involved.

Ann Marie Torre

Ann Marie Torre is an English teacher and professional organizer in the New York tri-state area. She is a member of NAPO, the National Organization of Professional Organizers, and helps teens and adults set up organizational systems that last. Her company, The Organized Life, has been featured in The New York Times and the Spring 2009 edition of What To Do: Armonk, Bedford & Chappaqua. For more information: or (914) 242-1178