Communication Tips for Parents
The middle-school years can be some of the toughest for parents and kids. Middlers can be baffling -- up one minute and down the next. Parents of middlers may think to themselves, "What happened to that smiling third-grader we knew so well? Who replaced him with this moody pre-adolescent we hardly recognize? Keeping the lines of communication open during these years requires extra patience. These tips can help keep the conversation flowing.
· MAKE THE TIME. In today's complex world, it's even more important to make sure you set aside time to talk. That doesn't mean you have to hold a formal meeting. Sometimes the best discussions take place while you're driving the car or puttering around the kitchen.
· LISTEN TO THE LITTLE STUFF. Kids will talk to you if they know you're going to listen -- whether they discuss heavy issues such as sex and drugs or everyday things like schoolwork. If your kids know you're listening, they're more likely to trust you enough to talk about everything in their life.
· LISTEN BETWEEN THE LINES. Because a lot of kids find it hard to talk to their parents about things that really matter, parents have to pay special attention to what their kids may be trying to say. It helps to pay particular attention to emotions -- not just the emotion itself, but its intensity, too.
· ASK THEIR OPINION. Few things please children (or anybody else) more than being asked their opinion. You don't have to ask about important issues all the time, either.
· DON'T INTERRUPT. In the Philips "Let's Connect" national survey, more than half the children said that when they talked, their parents often or sometimes didn't give them a chance to explain themselves. It's a good idea to give your children some extra time to explain their opinion or desires, even if you think you know what they're going to say.
The Busy Parents Guide to Involvement in Education
Parent involvement -- your involvement -- in education increases your children's chances for success in school and in life. When you participate in your children's education, say hello to the warm feeling of satisfaction you get when you know that you've helped your children.
Start first with the ideas that appeal to you most and will easily fit into your schedule, and then add others as time permits. The good news is that no matter how little time you have, you will find a number of things that you can do every day to help your children.
The important thing to remember is this: Involved parents do make a difference.
What You Can Do At Home...
Put on a happy face. At the end of a busy day your feet may hurt and your head may pound, but when your youngsters come running to you full of enthusiasm about something at school, put on a smile and match their excitement. When you put them off with, "Later, later," their joy in the accomplishment disappears.
Table talk. Talk about what your children are learning in school while at the table eating supper. After the meal is finished, pass around any papers they've brought home for everyone to discuss and admire.
Don't stow it, show it! Instead of stowing school papers and artwork in a forgotten drawer, show it off. Use a wall, the refrigerator door, or a bulletin board for the display. Take a minute now and then to look at the changing displays with each child and talk about how proud you are of the work that's exhibited. When papers are taken down from the bulletin board, preserve in a special folder for periodic review.
Change "Whatdja get?" to "Whatdja learn?" When tests and reports come home, take the emphasis off the grades and focus instead on the information and skills they learned by doing the work. Give children a chance to show what they know by asking simple questions about the subject. Increase your children's knowledge by sharing anything you know about the topic, or by looking it up in an encyclopedia.
Talking texts. Ask your youngsters to read their textbooks to you while you fix dinner, sort laundry, or drive the car. Any text will do-a reader, a social studies book, even a math book. When they finish a section, discuss any questions the book presents in order to expand their comprehension of the ideas in the text.
Classroom chronicles. Children who get home before their parents can record descriptions of the school day on cassette tape, while events are still fresh in their minds. These Classroom Chronicles don't replace the time you spend with your children, but rather serve as springboards for discussion when you listen to them with your kids later in the evening.
Family merry-go-round. When you ask, "What happened in school today," and get the answer, "Nothin' much," it's time to hop on the Family Merry-Go-Round. Start a sentence that each person in the family must complete in turn. "The most surprising thing I learned today was . . ." "One of the things I did well today was . . " The sentence merrily goes 'round till everyone has shared their experiences.
"I can" cans. Give each child an empty juice can covered with contact paper and labeled "My 'I CAN' Can." Whenever your children learn a new skill, be it academic, artistic, or athletic, write it on a piece of paper and stuff it in the can. Review the contents of the cans periodically, and watch your children's self-esteem soar.
Make mistakes OK. When children can learn from their mistakes, instead of feeling discouraged by them, they are on the road to success. Make mistakes OK by talking about your own errors: "One mistake I made today was . . ." Encourage your youngsters to describe mistakes that they made, and then talk about solutions: "One way I can keep from making this mistake again is . . ."
Watch here for other tips from the Busy Parents Guide on working with teachers and getting involved in your school community.