Ms. B. is a 7th grade Language Arts teacher in the Midwest. She has been teaching for 15 years, having taught Special Education for 4 years and Language Arts for 11 years. Ms. B. has a degree in Special Education, Reading and her Masters in Education. In her free time she enjoys gardening, baking bread, being a grandparent and eating fine, imported dark chocolate.
I have just finished 3 afternoons and evenings of parent-teacher conferences this week. It is always an interesting adventure when I meet the parents of my students and have a chance to discuss their students’ academic and social activities in class. So many parents ask what they can do to help their child be more successful in the classroom, and I suspect they are surprised with my suggestions.
Suggestion #1 – Turn off the TV/computers/wii/electronic stuff and sit at the table with your children and play a board or card game. Games offer a wonderful way to interact with your children, expand their vocabulary and strategy skills, and learn appropriate social skills. Some of our current favorites are Pandemic (great cooperative game), Clubhouse Golf (quick and easy to learn), and Solitaire Frenzy (family favorite). Make this holiday season a family time rather than a shopping, too many commitments time. I have listed some sites that will provide some reviews and recommendations as you begin to build your stash of family fun.
Suggestion #2 – Read to your child – even if they are in middle school. You would be surprised how quickly my noisy room of 7thgraders quiets when I start reading to them. You can also read with them; start your own book club. Be creative and make reading enjoyable by going to the bookstore together and leisurely (that is important) choose a book together. Take time to enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate together as you shop. Sit and slowly sip your tea or hot chocolate as you discuss which book(s) to choose. Set goals for reading and ask questions—listen to the answers—remember--you can’t hurry good conversation.
Suggestion #3 – Cook with your children – I will write about that later.
Suggestion #4 – Decrease the number of activities that take up your and your children’s time. Previous suggestions will only work if you have time. You cannot make time if everyone is too busy.
Choose one suggestion to start with- stick with it for a month and see what successes it yields your child and your whole family!