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A Parents Plan for Success in School

Feb 22, 2011 | By Harvey Craft

Kids in classroomAll children need help with school issues. How to know what's really important and how to create a plan for homework, tests, discipline, and surprises.

The Gallup school polls continue to show that parents are not well-informed about the nation's schools. Although these polls don't probe deeply into school rules or teaching methods, the polls reveal that parental understanding of school issues in general is far from reality.

The public and the courts tend to give schools considerable latitude as far as school procedures are concerned. This leeway may contribute to occasional conflict between what educators do and what is actually best practice.

There are obvious areas where virtually all parents are reasonably knowledgeable, even though their approaches in management of school issues differ widely. All parents are aware of homework, but few understand its real purpose. Grades are important to all parents, but the ways grades are computed can be bewildering.

Ask Questions About Classroom Procedures

This is a controversial issue in education. There are valid reasons for not grading it. Chief among the reasons are:

  • It's is a formative assessment – an activity designed to give student practice and allow the teacher to diagnose individual problems; formative assessments are not generally graded because they are given while the student is still learning;
  • It can be copied, done by a parent, or completed using an Internet program - students have unequal resources for homework at home.

Young boy doing homeworkIf parents are aware of homework being counted as an excessive part of a period grade, there may be good reason to ask the teacher. The reason is simple: student evaluation is intended to reflect knowledge resulting primarily from formal assessments like tests and quizzes.

Parents should at least read up on the topic to understand the current issues about homework, and be advised that homework is still used by most teachers in the nation's public schools. There is still substantial support for homework as a tool for practice and diagnosis.

How much homework does the child having each night? The rule of thumb is ten minutes per grade per night. That's twenty minutes for the second grade, fifty for the fifth, and so on.

To help children develop responsibility, parents should have consistently enforced rules about homework. These should include an expectation that the assignments are done on time in a provided place. Parents should verify that the assignments are complete. Even with all the possibilities for abusing homework, it can provide valuable opportunities for studying.

Ask teachers about their grading procedures. If they deduct points for behavior like being late to class or talking in class, talk to the principal about it. Grades are for academics, not discipline. Graded papers should be sent home. Not all teachers want them signed, but parents should have an opportunity to see them and review them with children.

If a child's grades are poor, parents should develop a plan with his teachers. Don't try to solve the problem with extra credit. Extra credit can and often are weak substitutions for mastering objectives. Some teachers will allow students to take a different version of the test or quiz or test over. If parents have reason to believe this will help, ask if the teacher will permit a retake.

Papers, especially tests and quizzes, should be graded quickly - within three or four days. Students need feedback on assessments as soon as possible. Parents should ask children about papers and give praise for good one and discuss those that are below standard.

Know the Rules and Regulations of the School

School busParents should review all school rules and regulations with children. They need to be knowledgeable to prevent mistakes regarding dress codes and other preventable miscues.
If family matters like divorce or parental illness create emotional problems for children, arrange a conference with school officials to discuss intervention and support.

If students are being subjected to unfair punishment by a teacher, contact the teacher for an explanation. If the explanation is not satisfactory, contact the principal. Never assume that teachers are free to punish children with bizarre disciplinary practices. Poor discipline is bad for the reputation of all schools.

If time and funds allow, volunteering or supplies are often appreciated. It's a big positive step. Parent involvement is a common aspect of successful schools.

Parental support of schools is vital today more than ever, but schools need the best teachers. Informed parents can help identify questionable practices in schools by being informed. Children should not have to endure poor instruction from poorly trained teachers. Parents can be watchdogs on behalf of their children and schools.

About the author:
Harvey Craft
 is a retired educator and former principal, with extensive experience in teaching grades six through to twelve. He is NBPTS certified in Adolescent Science and now spends his time in educational research, consulting, and freelance writing.
Click here to contact or read more articles by Harvey Craft.

Tags : parenting, grades, grading, procedures, education, child, children, kids, teachers, homework, school

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