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Parents Notebook

Putting “Home” in the “Education” Equation

by Aminisha Black,
The Parents Notebook

We’re familiar with the enthusiasm of a three- or four-year-old. They are eager to explore and learn. They are confident that they can do anything. Reality is not a concept they embrace.
Notice how few of our children are still that eager or confident at 12 or 13? What happened? Chances are they met up with adults – at home and in school– who convinced them of how little they knew and scolded them for asking too many questions – or in some way diminished their enthusiasm. How often do you encourage your child to investigate and seek answers? Notice if you become annoyed by questions. What resources are available at home for your child’s use? Do you rush to answer questions rather than encouraging the child to figure it out? Remember – parents are their child’s first teacher and lessons learned at home determine the child’s sense of self that continues a lifetime. And as quiet as it’s kept, the ability to define a problem (determine what’s missing) is key. While it may not provide the basis for retail sales, it sharpens mental ability and increases self-esteem which lasts a lifetime.
Finding ways for students to use what they learn in school creates an enthusiastic learner in and out of the classroom. Simply remembering and regurgitating can be boring and children of all ages dislike boredom with a passion. A few ways to reinforce reading skills with practice outside the classroom:

**K-3rd grade

  1. Play a game of “Find the Alphabet” by having child pick an alphabet from a container and then find that alphabet on bottles, cans of food or other items.
  2. Write the telephone numbers of family and friends and allow your child to practice reading numbers by dialing them.
  3. Increase your child’s vocabulary by having the child name and say the color of each item of clothing he or she wears.
  4. Teach the body parts and write them on pieces of paper. Draw an outline of the child on poster paper and have child attach names to correct locations.

**4th-5th grade

  1. Read with youngsters by taking roles in stories, acting out dramatic poems or play scripts. Make sure that it’s a story that interests the child. If possible, tape the sessions. Hearing themselves is a big turn-on and it provides the child an opportunity to evaluate his/her performance. The tapes can also be played for family entertainment.
  2. Allow your child to plan a family outing by reading bus or train maps and highlighting the route. As you travel, have the child read the street signs or subway stops and compare.
  3. Take child to supermarket with a list of items to find. Later, ask the child which aisle the items were found, exploring what, if anything the items had in common.

**6-8th grade

  1. Have student plan a trip for the family or friends to any special event. Figuring out available transportation, travel time and cost.
  2. Introduce student to the many kinds of information in the daily newspaper. Ask student to find the sections containing local, national and international news, sports, house sales, rentals and want ads. When you need information, have student find and read the section for you.
  3. Make the news a family affair. Follow important news for a few days. Ask family members to find as much information as possible from newspapers, radio or television. Discuss what everyone learned, noting different versions, if any, on the same story. While the school report card tells us how students are doing in subjects, parents need a report card to monitor social and emotional progress which impacts academic progress. Grade your child A – D on the following: Assumes responsibility; thinks in terms of “we” rather than just “me”; has a feeling of belonging; is interested in others; respects the rights of others; is tolerant of others; cooperates with others; encourages others; is courageous; is willing to share rather than being concerned with “How much can I get?”; tells the truth; puts forth genuine effort;
    When school grades are poor, chances are the above grades are too. Work to improve those and the child will take care of the academics. Join us in re-creating the village that will raise our children.
    “The transformation of a nation begins in the homes and hearts of its people”
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