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Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Children's Education

Use TV wisely

Academic achievement drops sharply for children who watch more than 10 hours of television a week, or an average of more than two hours a day. Parents can limit the amount of viewing and help children select educational programs. Parents can also watch and discuss shows with their kids. This will help children understand how stories are structured.

Establish a daily family routine with scheduled homework time

Studies show that successful students have parents who create and maintain family routines. Make sure your child goes to school every day. Establish a regular time for homework each afternoon or evening, set aside a quiet, well lit place, and encourage children to study. Routines generally include time performing chores, eating meals together, and going to bed at an established time.

Talk to your children and teenagers -- and listen to them, too

Talk directly to your children, especially your teenagers, about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the values you want them to have. Set a good example. And listen to what your children have to say. Such personal talks, however uncomfortable they may make you feel, can save their lives.

Express high expectations for children by enrolling them in challenging courses

You can communicate to your children the importance of setting and meeting challenges in school. Tell your children that working hard and stretching their minds in the only way for them to realize their full potential. Expect and encourage your children to take tough academic courses like geometry, chemistry, computer technology, a second language, art, and advanced occupational courses. Make sure they never settle for doing less than their best.

Find out whether your school has high standards

Your school should have clear, challenging standards for what students should know. For example, what reading, writing and math skills are your child expected to have by fourth grade? By eighth and twelfth grade? What about history, science, the arts, geography, and other languages? Are responsibility and hard work recognized? If your school doesn't have high standards, join with teachers, principals, and other parents to set these standards.

Remain in contact with the school

Parents cannot afford to wait for schools to tell them how children are doing. Families who stay informed about their children's progress at school have higher-achieving children. To keep informed, parents can visit the school or talk with teachers on the telephone. Get to know the names of your children's teachers, principals, and counselors.

Use community resource

Activities sponsored by community and religious organizations provide opportunities for children and other family members to engage in positive social and learning experiences. Family- oriented community resources may include health care services, housing assistance, adult education, family literacy, and employment counseling. Families can reinforce their children's learning by going to libraries, museums, free concerts, and cultural fairs together.

When parents and families get personally involved in education, their children do better in school and grow up to be more successful in life.

Sounds like common sense, doesn't it?

Yet parental involvement is one of the most overlooked aspects of American education today. The fact is, many parents don't realize how important it is to get involved in their children's learning. As one dad said when he began to read to his daughter ever day and discovered that it improved her learning, "I never realized how much it would mean to her to hear me read." Other parents would like to be involved, but have trouble finding the time.

All parents and family members should try to find the time and make the effort because research shows that when families get involved, their children:

  • Get better grades and test scores.
  • Graduate from high school at higher rates.
  • Are more likely to go on to higher education.
  • Are better behaved and have more positive attitudes.

Family involvement is also one of the best investments a family can make. Students who graduate from high school earn, on average, $200,000 more in their lifetimes than students who drop out. College graduate makes almost $1 million more!

Most important of all, ALL parents and families can enjoy these benefits. It doesn't matter how much money you have. It doesn't matter how much formal education you've had yourself or how well you did in school. And family involvement works for children at all grade levels.

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