Screven County Middle School
Parenting Without Pressure

It Takes Time
To help ensure that your children are academically successful, spend time at school.  Strong evidence suggests that the more involved parents are in their children’s education, the better the children will do in school. It is important to develop good parent/teacher relationships and help teachers get to know your children. Attend school parent/teacher organization meetings, open houses, and school orientations.  Make a point to find out convenient times to contact teachers, if necessary.  Also, provide them with your home and work numbers so they can easily contact you concerning your child's schoolwork.  Do not hesitate to schedule parent teachers' conferences when needed.       

Spending time at home is equally important to ensure academic success. Start by making learning a priority in your home.  Read aloud to younger children and have older kids read to you.  Discuss local and national issues and ask for their opinions.  Then listen instead of lecturing!  Also, take an interest in the different classes they are taking and create a sense of fun and excitement in learning.  For example, you might play junior scramble to help with spelling or study math and science by spending the summer designing and making surfboards to use at the beach.

An Environment for Success
Provide a specific time and quiet place to study with a good dictionary and plenty of school supplies handy. Also, provide positive reading materials by subscribing to fun, educational magazines and a daily newspaper.

At the beginning of each school year request a school calendar that lists all up-coming school activities and school holidays. Having this information in advance will make it easier for you to attend school activities, schedule day care and plan family outings.

Create a school file for each child, including teacher names, phone numbers, standardized test results and report cards. Read everything from the school carefully, and file important material in the school file for safekeeping or to take to your next teacher conference. This is also an excellent place to keep deadlines and requirements for scholarships, loan applications, and admissions applications for college bound students.

Celebrate a child's accomplishments both big and small. Attend school-related activities such as athletic events, band concerts, or award programs. Whether he is the star quarterback or spends most of the time on the bench; whether she wins the spelling bee or gets cut early on; celebrate your children's success, and reinforce their participation.

Your Attitude Makes A Difference!
The best place to start in making a difference in the children’s success at school is with your attitude. Parents provide their children with a window to the world. What the children see is colored by parents’ perspective. If mom and dad realize the importance of getting an education, chances are, so will the kids. Be positive about your children's education, their school and teachers, and be a positive role model they can look to for guidance and reassurance.

Tips for Tough Time
When youngsters do have problems in school, they usually can be categorized into four areas. The following suggestions will help you through the tough spots:

Poorly behaved children have a difficult time in the classroom. Parents can help early by teaching self-control and appropriate classroom behavior. Establish clear rules concerning behavior in school and request behavior progress reports when needed. Also, consider involving the child in sports (such as karate) that emphasis discipline and self-control. If behavior problems are ongoing, be sure to reward behavior you want repeated!

Unfortunately, some children are emotionally handicapped and not able to control their behavior. Therefore, if the behavioral problem is on-going, request the child be tested by the school psychologist for ADD, ADHD, or emotional handicaps. Youngsters rarely want to admit it when they have difficulty learning. Consequently, especially with teens, acting out becomes a safe alternative. If a learning disability is diagnosed, ask for appropriate referrals and consider private tutoring or special classes. And always seek professional counseling for the child and yourself when needed.

Class Work
If your child is not keeping up with class work and there is no learning disability, investigate other probable causes. What are your child’s eating and sleeping habits? Many young people fuel their bodies with high fat, low energy foods, get fewer than five hours sleep a night, and are drowsy and inattentive the following day in class. Also, check out the child’s eyesight and hearing. Sometimes an undetected physical condition can cause a child to do poorly in school. The problem is compounded when the youngster loses self-confidence and self-esteem, and begins to feel like a failure. Discuss the problem with the teacher and explore motivation tactics for achievement.

Often social problems at school can be more troublesome to correct than academic problems. Kids who do not fit in socially will often go to any lengths to do so. This can be scary for parents, especially with today’s prevalence of gangs and drugs. Parents must do everything they can to help their kids feel good about themselves and make good choices. This might include helping with clothing, grooming or basic social skills. It is important that parents provide opportunities for positive peer group interaction apart from school, such as special hobby clubs, organized sports, and church youth group activities.

Every family has its own set of problems, some of which are quite serious. These problems, however, do not always have detrimental effects on the children. Family problems can be devastating for children, however, when they see parents collapse from the stress of it all. Observing parents constructively deal with a major problem teaches children important concepts such as problem solving, decisions making, stress management and goal setting. In addition, when parents seek professional counseling, they teach their children that it’s OK to ask for help, and showing them how to find and access that help.

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