Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A., Riche', Cassandra, Martin, Leah R. | 4/19/2005 10:28:31 PM
How can parents help their children succeed? The answer is to be involved, stresses LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.
"Research indicates that children whose parents are involved in their education and development have better academic performance, better attendance, greater completion rate of homework, higher graduation rates, increased involvement in extra curricular activities, improved attitude and better all-around behavior," Gioe says. "Developing the habit of being involved when your children are in child care and preschool will foster involvement and increased success later on."
Gioe says there are many simple things you can do to become more involved in your child’s development, and she offers these tips:
–Visit your children’s school or child-care center regularly. Take some time to see where they sit, where they have lunch and who their friends are. Talk with their teachers while you are there to show them you want to be involved and that you think your child’s education is important. Offer to talk to the class about your job and, if possible, invite the class to your workplace.
– Be an advocate for your child. Young children cannot always express their thoughts and feelings to others. So speak up for your child if you feel your child is being treated incorrectly or unfairly. Make sure you respect the teacher and the administrator, but let them know when you feel there needs to be a change in the environment your child is in.
–Read to your child every day. Let your child see you reading and learning. Share with him or her how your day was. Actively listen to what your child has to say, responding seriously and appropriately to questions he or she raises.
–Play together with your child inside and outside. Learn your child’s favorite games and favorite places to play. Take some time out of your day-to-day activities to show your child how important he or she is to you. Plan a special trip to the park or a favorite store. Take walks with your child to talk and find "special treasures."
–Children need routines and structure. Make a family calendar with your child’s activities for both home and school. Include early dismissals, field trips and holidays. Each morning look at the calendar with your child and plan the day.
–Children need a place for themselves. Help your child develop an area of his or her own in the house or yard. Equip your child’s area with a good light, paper, markers, crayons, stencils, blocks, puppets and so forth. Let your child decide what to put and what to do in this area. Remind other family members that this is his or her place and that items should not be touched.
–Respect your child. Let your child know he or she is a valued member of the family by letting him or her help you with simple chores such as picking up toys or putting clothes in the laundry basket.
–Get to know your child’s teachers. The teachers will be spending a lot of time with your child, and you want to make sure you know them well. Send notes to school when there is a change at home or when one parent or both parents will be out of town. The teachers will be able to respond to your child better if they know what is happening at home. If your child is not feeling well, alert the teachers to what is happening and let them know about any medicines your child is taking at home or will need to take at school and any possible side effects that might interfere with the child’s behavior while in their care. The best time to talk to your child’s teachers about issues or concerns is in a parent-teacher conference. Attend all the conferences and open houses that are set up by the school or teachers, and take a list of questions or concerns to be discussed. If you have a positive relationship with your child’s teachers, your child will be more likely to have a positive relationship with his or her teachers.
–If special circumstances prevent you from becoming as involved as you’d like to be, allow other caring adults to be involved. Parental involvement is beneficial, but if other family members – such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings and other caring adults that have a strong bond with your child – can become involved, it can be even more helpful.
As for whether it’s possible to be too involved or to harm a child’s success by being too helpful, Gioe says not to go overboard.
"If parents are trying to plan every waking moment and are enrolling their child in too many extra-curricular activities, they may be causing more harm than good," she advises, adding, "These children often feel overloaded, unmotivated or depressed. So moderation is the key when becoming involved with your child."
The LSU AgCenter expert says the point to keep in mind is that you are your child’s first teacher.
"The time you spend with your child, the activities you do with your child and the environment you create for your child help build your child’s skills and prepare him or her for school," Gioe says. "Never underestimate the effect you have on your child."
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.