Zionsville Times Sentinel

August 21, 2013

Parents need to engage kids in learning


Zionsville Times Sentinel

---- — You’ve purchased the school supplies, completed the forms, and updated the shots. While many parents consider the school prep done, a little more is needed to give children their best start. First, alleviate their fears. Each new year brings new challenges — different teachers, altered schedules, more difficult assignments. Some children greet the changes with excitement; others with fear. Parents can help turn the fear to excitement. Fear stems from feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. To combat the sense of being overwhelmed parents should help children break the challenges into manageable pieces. Instead of dealing with the larger challenge of Algebra, break the year’s math into steps: learning to factor, dealing with negatives, etc. When children face small bites rather than the whole pie, they tackle the challenge more confidently. Information cures the sense of being unprepared. Listen to your child’s concerns with an ear toward filling in what they don’t know. As you clear the confusion on how to pay for lunch or the process for turning in homework, you help enable your children to face the unknown with enthusiasm. Secondly, help your children set goals. Short term works best for younger children; give a more long-term outlook to your high-schoolers. With younger children, help them write down three goals they would like to accomplish during the first nine weeks. Master their five’s multiplication tables, begin using 20 new vocabulary words, or they might focus on something apart from school such as gathering 30 new specimens for their bug collection. High-schoolers can begin thinking where they want to be at graduation — academically, financially or vocationally — and then establish what they can do in the coming year to achieve that larger picture. Goals excite our children about the possibilities and give a map and focus for their time. The enthusiasm for accomplishing something they desire spills over into working hard at even the tasks they didn’t choose — spelling for example. See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.