Tag Archives: parental support

Sunday Morning Shout Out

It’s not easy being a child today.  While this may always have been the case, today’s children live in a hyperactive world.  Between meeting the demands of Common Core and the umpteen activities they do, children can face a great amount of stress.  A normally docile acts out.  An energetic child is sluggish and out of sorts.  These are all ways children show stress.  Fortunately, parents can help their children combat stress in many different ways.

The article “Helping Kids Cope With Stress,” from the “Kids Health” website  offers some great tips to parents.

The first tip is to “notice out loud” when a child seems stressed.  for example, when Johnny seems stressed, put it to words. “Johnny, you seem mad about what happened in gym yesterday” or “Susie, you seem like something is bothering you.”  When parents do this, their concern goes far in helping children feel armored to fight stress.  Children often feel alone and consumed by their stress and worries.  Show them they are not alone and you are there with them.

Along with this, parents should actively listen to their children when they tell us what is wrong, without adding judgment or without rushing them along.  Ask open ended questions to get them talking about their worries.  “Jilly, what is stressing you out?” “Tell me what happened in class.” “What did you do after your coach said that to you?” It then helps to dose them with a great deal of empathy.  This sounds like a no brainer, but in the heat of the moment parents are often at their wits end or flooded with their own feelings-anger, stress, distraction.  Feeling understood and listened to, helps your child feel supported by you.

Parents can also help our children put a label on their feelings and help them think of things to do. Children, especially small children, may lack the words to express their feelings.  This is probably why they start with I have a headache or stomachache, instead of I feel overwhelmed by homework; I am tired; I am upset by all the attention Baby Sammy is getting instead of me, etc.. Early on, children are able to describe a belly ache or a head ache. By helping children identify and label their feelings, parents help them increase their emotional awareness. “Susie, you feel overwhelmed by all the homework you have this year. You’d like more time to play.” “Joey, you are saying you are sad because you miss spending time with me, now that the baby is here.”

After having increased emotional awareness with your child, help them develop an action plan.  Help your child think of what to do when stress arises.  Parents may need to start the brainstorming session, but ask them for their ideas. – When Johnny comes up with ways to deal with not forgetting his homework, that’s pretty powerful stuff. Help him follow through.  Maybe he isolates the problem. His folder never comes off his desk once homework is completed.  He tells you he needs to place it right in the bag, after you check it Of course, right.  When children come up with the solution, they gain confidence and feel empowered.

In the article, parents are reminded that sometimes they just need to listen and help them move on. Sometime, it only takes a sense of being heard, to feel better. Listen and help your child find something fun and relaxing to do.  Do not give a problem more attention than it deserves.  Also, a child may not need to talk about it or want to talk about it.  They just need parent to be there for them and ready to listen if they want to talk to us about it.  Be loving, patient, and present to them.

Lastly, parents may need to actively step in and minimize stress in their children’s lives.  If the morning is pure chaos, what is our role in reducing it?  Does everyone have enough time to get ready? What can be done the night before to make for a smooth morning routine?  Did everyone have a healthy breakfast, to provide them the right nutrition to start the day? Are your children getting enough exercise at home? How about activities? Today’s children need more downtime and less scheduled time.  It will not wreck their college application for them to forgo competitive swimming at seven years-old or five day a week, travel soccer.  Childhood is brief.  By teaching health stress management skills now, parents are helping their children for a lifetime.

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

summerslideStatThis summer, will you swim like a fish?  Will you travel like an adventurer?  Will you camp like a scout?  Perhaps yes.  But, will you read like a worm?  For struggling readers or hesitant readers, this break from school can contribute to summer slide.  Summer slide refers to the academic losses that commonly occur when students are out of school during the break.  When this occurs, the first few months of each school year need to be spent catching up with skills that have been lost.  For an already struggling student, this simply might not be enough.  Fortunately, there are things that parents and care givers can do to help overcome it.

The article “Avoiding Summer Slide (Great Tips and Idea)“, by teacher Kathleen Wainwright has some great ideas on how not to go down that slippery summer slide.  From designating reading time each day and making sure your library card is well-oiled and ready to use, to reading together, incentivizing reading, and packing books along for long lines, car rides, appointments, etc, there are many ways to keep reading going strong.  Perhaps one of her best tips is just to turn the television off (I will add all electronics) and have specific quiet time at night, when everyone in the entire house reads.  It could be newspapers, cookbooks, magazines, or novels. Lead and read by example!

Summer is short and it own type of fast paced.  The stakes are too high to let reading become one of those things not in your summer plans.  Like an old carnival attraction, the fall from the slide is too high and dramatic.  It’s downright treacherous!

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Top Six Things Teachers Need From Parents

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to educate them too. It is not just the ‘job’ of your child’s school to provide learning skills and opportunities to practice and utilize them.  Studies show that parents who get involved in the education of their students see much better results in confidence and grades.  Of course teachers understand that parents have hectic schedules and very little time to share with their kids, but setting aside just an hour or so a day to dedicate to academics can make all the difference in your child’s life.

Read To Your Children
Reading helps you to open communication as most children will have questions about the text.  Reading to your children encourages them to read and this is one of the best gifts you can give since effective reading will make studying and getting through all those text books so much easier.  Your children are never too young or too old to learn to love reading.

Introduce Yourself
Get to know your children’s teachers and make sure that you touch base regularly. Don’t be the parent who only contacts the teacher when they have a problem; instead keep the channels of communication open and offer help as often as your schedule allows. Teachers have a tough job and it’s nice for them to feel like you are on their side.

Conflict Resolution
Encourage your children to socialize with their classmates outside of the classroom and guide them in problem solving with students that they don’t get along with. If students are able to resolve conflicts on their own, teachers don’t always have to be the referee.

Take Part
A great way to help the teacher out is to get involved in school activities when your schedule allows. Helping to organize events, raise funds or with maintenance around the school will help you to form a relationship with the very important educators who are responsible for your child’s schooling.

Teachers can accomplish so much more when they have the support of parents and a team they can count on. There are many benefits for you too; you get to meet other parents and many of the teachers and children with whom your child spends their day.

When you participate in school activities, your children will be encouraged to do so too and they will feel like you care about their education and success. Getting involved helps to illustrate just how important education is and that it is something worthy of investment.

Make Learning Fun
Reading books at home, teaching your children how to measure ingredients and bake, playing educational games together, taking courses outside of school and discovery the art, history and science museums together shows your family that learning is an essential, lifelong pursuit that can be fun too.

Pitching In
Teach your kids the skills they will need to navigate classroom life like cleaning up after themselves, taking responsibility, following instructions and being able to work in a team. Each child and teacher are different and the best way to navigate each school year is to be open to communication with your teachers and your students so that you can resolve issues before they grow.

– See more at: http://tutordoctor.com/blog/blog/top-six-things-teachers-need-from-parents/#sthash.TPXsa161.dpuf

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 3/31/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Why Students Fail Survey Yields Shocking Results

A recent survey conducted by Tutor Doctor showed that underachieving students did not achieve their academic goals because of a lack of motivation and not getting enough help at home.  With bigger classes and working parents, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for struggling students to find the time and assistance they need to succeed.

 Tutor Doctor’s ‘Why Students Fail” Survey Results
Respondents of the “Why Students Fail” survey, estimated that only a shockingly low 2.6% of students reach their full academic potential.  There are a number of reasons for this poor academic performance; nearly all of the respondents agreed that students freeze during test taking (96.8%) and cited an ability to handle pressure/stress (56.8%), being unprepared (54.1%) and lack of confidence (45.9%) as the most common stumbling blocks to academic success.

Deep financial cuts to education budgets have meant that many schools have had to cut tutoring or after-school support programs. Working parents have no alternative but to seek help for their students elsewhere.  Tutoring programs like those offered by companies like Tutor Doctor not only help build basic educational foundations, but also help to improve test taking skills, build confidence and self-esteem.  In-home programs that offer one-on-one tutoring get the best results and produce marked improvements in very little time.

 Peer Pressure and Academic Anxiety
61.5% of the educators surveyed cite peer pressure as causing anxiety and stress that stirs up an unhealthy competition and ultimately causes poor academic performance.  In high school pressure to get into a good college begins to impact students in their sophomore year, according to 37.1% of respondents, followed closely by freshman (34.3%).  Educators were divided on whether this pressure helps or hinders students’ performance, with 51.7% saying it helps and 48.3% believing it hinders.

As competition for the higher ranked college openings increase, the pressure to excel academically in high school also exponentially increases.  Boosting a student’s test taking ability, building confidence and self esteem can help to reduce stress, combat peer pressure and provide an environment where academic excellence is possible.

Another hurdle to academic performance is often the fact that students don’t ask for help.  Catching issues before they get too far behind or before bad grades ruin their college dreams is the best route for a student to take but they often lack the skills needed to identify the issue and/or to ask for help.  Parenting is especially important at in these mid to late teen years. One of the most important actions you can take is to regularly meet or communicate with your student’s teachers to get a sense of where they are academically, if they are seeing any social issues and how they are performing.

Additional support for students and parents can come from a skilled tutor.  Tutors are able to teach valuable organizational and learning skills that help a student to plan their daily activity and future academic years. If your student is active socially and plays a high school sport, they need to have great organizational skills to get everything done.

(Note: Post adapted from an entry on Sept 2, 2013 at the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog.)

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Sunday Morning Shout Out

faith-at-homeFaith is an odd word to me.  I say that because I come from a scientific, fact-based background.  I’m very much a doubting Thomas and typically need to see something hard and tangible for me to believe it.  I even used to be a very black and white kind of a guy but I’m learning to allow a few shades of grey in there as I get older.  Learning to have faith in someone or something has also been a challenge for me but even that is developing as I learn how to deal with teenage children and civil and education politics.  In the Merriam-Webster dictionary Faith is defined as:

1a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion

b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>
I actually think a better definition can be found in a reading from the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 Faith is described as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
As a parent, Faith in the abilities and decisions of your children is always a challenge for me. As Nemo’s dad in the Disney movie “Finding Nemo” finds out there is no answer to the question of ‘When is the right time to let go of your child?’  All you can do is have faith in what you have taught them and faith in your children’s ability to make it in the world.  Let them define what success and happiness is for them since so much in the world has changed since you were that age.
It is a parents role to be there when needed by a child, and it is also important to trust and believe in your child.  An important step for me in building trust and belief as I continually learn how to be a better parent was learning to have faith in my own abilities. Now that I have that, I find I can be a better parent. What has helped you become a better parent?

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Nurturing Creative Success

Much has been written about creative people and the success they enjoy because of their creativity.  This creativity and the ensuring success is most often highlighted in the arts.  However, it should be recognized that it actually occurs all around us in everyday life as people find new and novel ways to solve problems they perceive.  Sure not everyone gets famous or rich from the problems they solve but in the end if it has made theirs or someone elses life better in some way.

So if creativity can occur anywhere, and I’d dare say for anyone, why do most people feel they are not creative or good problem solvers?  To me the answer lies in that they have not been taught these advanced thinking skills either in the home nor at school. This deficiency is something that has now taken on new importance as education requirements are changing and the Common Core standards are being implimented. For eductors interested in learning more about proven creative thinking curriculum, tools and techniques I’d suggest they review the work of Dr Donald Treffinger at the Center for Creative Learning (CCL).

For parents I believe that they can nurture creative and innovative thinking by:

• Walking the Talk -take the time to read a bit about creative and problem-solving and use it in your own life and where possible explain it to your child.

• Interact and Play With Your Child – show younger children that there are solutions to difficult problems and issues through games, puzzles, fantasy and storytelling.

• Entwine Structure With Freedom – as most of us find out in life there is really no such thing as absolute freedom. Structure and laws are necessary foundations for freedom.  However, this does not mean you should create a boring or overly structured life for yourself or your family.  Allow some open time to do  something you or your child wants to do. Old dogs can learn new tricks; younger dogs just learn them faster. In an interview with comedian Paul Mecurio, Paul McCartney reflected on the Beatles and that they kept things fresh, new and exciting because they hated to be bored and had a rich desire to show people new tricks.  As such, each album was approached not with a formula for creating a hit, but instead as a new canvas they could use to experiment with. And yet he states how George Martin as the producer helped to provide the structure and guidance they needed to polish and complete their efforts. Even at 71 years of age McCartney strives to learn new things everyday.

• Love What You Do – In my 35 years of study of creative and successful people one theme is dominant and in the interview McCartney sums it up simply as “You gotta love what you do“.  You can support this in your child by observing what they excel at and help them become even more proficient in that. All too often we focus just on what a child struggles with and forget what they naturally excel at or like to do. However, with the love comes work….

• Hard Work – Practice, study and work over long periods of time are necessary for success in any endeavour. A story titled “What it Takes to be Great” in a 2006 Forbes magazine states that numerous studies find that

The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.

Reinforcing that no-free-lunch finding is vast evidence that even the most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class, a pattern so well established researchers call it the ten-year rule.

• Support – Your child needs your support, attention and guidance especially in the early years of their lives. You need to give them the confidence they need to try new things and to think new ways that lead to the ability to adapt and excel in their lives.  Without this confidence the talents tend to stay inside the individual and are not share for fear of failure or ridicule.

Remember creativity can be displayed on the playground, in the kitchen, in the workshop, in the garage, in the garden and on and on. It is not reserved for anyone individual and while higher socioeconomic status can assist, the lack of it should not be seen as a barrier. Love, work, recognition and support are the keys and as parents we can provide these to our children if we choose to.

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First Marking Period: A Late Trick Or Treat?

Here in Western New York most schools finished the first quarter of the school year. That means report cards and parent-teacher conferences. With the new Common Core Standards many schools changed the format of report cards and they may be a bit hard to understand initially. During you parent-teacher conference there might be words, phrases and abbreviations that the teacher uses that are absolutely meaningless to you. If that occurs make sure you ask for clarity and a better understanding before the end of the meeting.

Like anything with your child’s education we recommend that you ask questions of the school and teachers when you don’t understand something. Remember ‘the only stupid question is the question not asked’.  Also remember that YOU are the client and they are the service provider. YOU pay their wages and have every right to ask questions and get appropriate answers that you can understand. One of the biggest parts of the new Common Core Standards is the teaming that needs to include the parents to be effective in the education of children. Part of teaming is communication!


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