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“The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have, but in giving of who you are.”
~Johnnetta B. Cole
It is tough for working parents to cram volunteer work into an already packed schedule. While volunteering used to be just a nice way to get to know your child’s teacher and classmates, now it has become a lot more. Schools need parent volunteers more than ever, as they play a growing role in saving programs and staff that generate enough cash to help salvage them. Having adults and parents present at school goes way beyond raising money for extracurricular activities and after-school programs; it also helps children develop into healthy, confident adults.
Some schools manage to turn out successful students despite a lack of resources. Community and parent support is one big reason. Even at schools with only one teacher and a handful of children, the presence of parents and neighbors not only enriches the teaching but helps kids develop self-esteem and the ability to form strong relationships with adults.
Volunteers’ growing role in education raises the discussion that all parents should try to figure out a way to contribute. There are a myriad of ways to do so: field trips, parties, working in the school’s copy center or library, helping with the teacher’s paperwork at home, reading or math tutoring in the classroom or in an “after-school program” are just a few.
Take advantage of various volunteer opportunities for and with your children. Below are more resources to get the creative juices flowing:
A required daily reading log is common practice in today’s classrooms. However, many parents and students dread this daily reading time as it is often the source of household tension and tears. But parents hold the key to the success of this very valuable homework assignment. Taking an active role in this daily reading, no matter what grade your child is in, is a start. However, there are many other things parents can do to make this time less stressful and, with time, make it an assignment to look forward to.
- Turn off the TV. This goes for the radio too. It is difficult to concentrate on the words on the page when your child is distracted by other things. Find a quiet place in the house where your child is not distracted by the television, computer, radio, telephone, or siblings.
- Let your child catch you reading. Children learn by example, and quickly at that. How often have you seen your child imitate a less-than-perfect behavior that you have? They are always watching and listening, even when you least expect it! If your child sees you reading—a newspaper, novel, magazine, paperwork brought home from the office—he is more likely to see this as a productive way to spend his time. And, if reading is something you enjoy doing, talk to your child about some of the things you are reading. This is a great way to open the lines of communication and turn him on to reading.
- Read together. Bedtime is a great time to wind down from the day and enjoy a little one-on-one time with your child. Any child will look forward to reading with or to a parent. If your child is too young to read on her own, read to her. If she is already reading independently, ask her to read aloud or pick up another copy of the book she is reading. Then you can talk about the book together. Even if you don’t share the same interest in reading material, you will know what she is reading and be able to share some special time with her.
- Find books at your child’s reading level. Nothing is more frustrating to a child than not understanding what he is reading. Make sure what your child is reading is at his reading level. If you suspect the book he chose is too hard, ask him to read a page to you aloud. If he struggles with at least five words on the page, the book may be above his reading level. Talk to his teacher about how to find books more at his level without discouraging his ability to choose.
- Go to the library. If someone told you that you had to read a specific book (think back to your own days in school), you likely wouldn’t enjoy it. The same goes for your child. Take him to the library or local book store and allow him to choose his own books. If he chooses what interests him, he will enjoy the assignment more and will likely look forward to reading time. Librarians are a great resource if your child still has a difficult time finding something he likes.
- Get help from the professionals. There are so many resources available to help you and your child find success in daily reading time. Your child’s teacher, the school’s reading specialist, Scholastic, and various other Web sites can give you great ideas of how you can help your child.
In the end, encourage and support your child as she completes her reading homework each night. Remove distractions, read with your child, and encourage her to choose her own books at her own reading level. When in doubt, get help from the professionals in your child’s school and the community. Extra time invested in this vital assignment will reap huge rewards in the future.
Here are just a few website to help you assist your child:
We’ve all heard it… “Don’t overbook your children.” Studies urge parents to make sure their children are not scheduled every minute of the day. The fear is that children (teens) involved in too many after-school activities will lose focus on their education and be stressed out and tired. While this may be true in some cases, extracurricular activities do offer a host of benefits:
- Improve your child’s self-confidence
- Promote self-discipline
- Aid in college acceptance
Playing an instrument or a sport allows your child experiences that will build confidence and teach discipline. Through practice, he/she will improve, thereby creating successful experiences that will bolster self-esteem and increase proficiency. Scheduled activities automatically tell your child where and when he/she needs to be, so this can be very valuable in helping your child understand the importance of scheduling time for homework as well as duties at home. Teaching children the art of “keeping the balance” at an early age is an important lesson they will use for the rest of their life.
Extra-curricular activities can make the difference in a college choosing your child over another; this is especially true when it comes to receiving scholarships. Colleges seek out students who are well-rounded and show a willingness to participate in a variety of activities. They are looking for individuals who have the confidence to explore new avenues of learning and/or further develop skills and talents while at the same time maintaining good grades.
Handled wisely, extra-curricular activities can teach your child important lessons about balancing priorities and responsibilities as well as build character and leadership qualities. The talent your child develops might just change your child’s life. Go for it! But remember to keep the balance.