Committee Corner: Making Learning in the Early Years a Priority of the Home

John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee Member

The more that parents feel that they have the power to influence their children’s future positively, the better their children tend to do in school.  This is called “efficacy” – the power to have an effect.”- Parental Efficacy – Lee Shumow and Richard Lomax

Research has for years stated that that students with involved parents, no matter what their income or background, are more likely to earn higher grades, attend school regularly, have better social skills and improved behavior and graduate and go on to post-secondary education.

As I have stated throughout my educational career  parents are a child’s first and most influential teachers and as a school system we need to encourage and work with them to be part of the educational system.  Parents need to know that they have the “power” to make a difference in their child’s education.

I’d like to focus this week’s column on the primary grades for it is a time when parents watch their children grow and change in miraculous ways.Let’s start with a positive attitude about school. As parents you are the most important people in your child’s lives and they need you to be interested and involved in their education, especially in those early years.  Parents need to take an interest in what is happening at school and follow-up at home with support. Be sure to read to your child, have him read to you, and review his/her homework assignments.

Next, encourage good attendance. It’s essential that parents let their child know how important it is to be in school and on time each day. Sickness does occur so if your child is going to  be out of school for a few days be sure to get some work from the school that can be done at home. Also, be sure that health prevention strategies are taking place in your home … in bed early and good nutrition habits.

Stay in communication with your child’s teacher and don’t be afraid to call and schedule an appointment. Be ready to discuss your child’s progress and ask questions about your child’s class participation and ask if he/she needs work on organizational skills. Other questions are …   How is my child doing academically?  Is my child working up to his/her potential?  Is my child spending enough time on homework?  Is my child paying attention in class?  What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?  Most importantly, what can I do at home to assist my child?

As part of your involvement be sure to provide encouragement and celebrate your child’s successes. When my children were in school we always put their successful school papers on the refrigerator and even showed them to friends and relatives at family functions. Show interest in what your child is studying and show your child that you are concerned about what is being taught at school.

Make sure that your home makes school a priority.Check your child’s homework each day and give assistance when needed. If you need clarification on homework assignments don’t hesitate to talk to the teacher.  Don’t ever let your child get to a frustration level on school assignments for you need to do everything possible to assist and encourage your child to succeed. If your child’s grades are suffering find out why and then consider making a contract with your child.  A contract can help you improve your child’s effort and behavior through the use of rewards and consequences.

As part of making learning a priority at home do control the television, game playing at home and the bed time schedule. Set up your rules and post them on the door in your child’s room.

In addition, be sure to join the school’s Parent Teacher Organization or Parent Group. Your participation at the school helps build a sense of community and it shows your child that you value what’s going on at school.

It is also important that parents help their child get organized at an early level. I would suggest that you help your child clean out his/her back pact each day and before going to bed each night have your child pack everything in his backpack and place it near the outside door. Next, have their clothes organized for the next day so that there are no problems come morning time. Helping your child develop routines in the morning and at nighttime helps them be more organized, and it makes their day run smoother.

Another critical piece to consider in the early years is developing within your child a LOVE for reading.  To become a reader children need to read often and that means every day. If your child is just learning to read be sure that you read to your child and make it a fun experience. Consider having the following posted in your home:

“The more I read The More I’ll know… 20 minutes a day…Will help me grow”

Do take trips to the library… buy books for your child for holidays and for their birthday…go with the slogan of 20 minutes of reading each day and do read to your child… and consider having a family story hour once a week.

These are just a few ideas that can assist parents at home for the bottom line is that children need the encouragement of their parents and parents who make learning a top priority. Need additional ideas, contact me

This article appeared in GoLocal Worcester opinion page MINDSETTER

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