It has been more than a decade since the first large-scale one-to-one technology initiative was launched in Maine. That program, which put laptops in the hands of every public school student in the state, represented a major shift in the manner in which students learn. Recognizing the growing value of technology, particularly the Internet as an educational tool, the program opened doors for students to learn that otherwise would not have been available. For the first time, students could easily expand their learning time beyond the boundaries of their classroom and regular school day.
Yet, as children learned to utilize technology for educational purposes, the non-educational aspects of technology began to become more prominent. Gone are the days when a laptop was used to type a report or to access an online encyclopedia for research. Now, children have thousands of online distractions from YouTube videos to games to apps that allow them to chat, text, and share pictures with their friends.
Source: Educational Marketing Group
All this makes it more difficult for parents to manage what their children utilize their technology to do. However, there are steps parents can take to ensure their child utilizes technology for learning first and fun second.
Set Rules and Stick to Them
Your child’s success in school is dependent upon a wide variety of factors. Certainly, the quality of programming at your child’s school, the quality of your child’s teacher, and access to quality resources are all critical components of your child’s success. But the factor that is most important for your child’s academic achievement is your involvement in their educational process.
According to the Michigan Department of Education, parental involvement is twice as predictive of a child’s academic success than socioeconomic status. Yet, the same report also notes that a lack of parental involvement is the largest issue facing public schools today. There are likely many reasons for this gap, not the least of which is that some parents just don’t know how to help their children when they bring schoolwork home. However, involvement in your child’s education does not begin and end with struggling to help them with homework. There are many methods you can employ to help your child achieve his or her academic potential, and here are nine ways you can naturally incorporate into your child's academic support.
Create a Routine and Stick to It
A major barrier that many parents face is simply finding the time in their schedules to sit down with their children to talk about school, review work, and provide assistance when needed. This has become even more difficult in recent years as children have become so involved with technologies like mobile phones, tablets, and social media that can occupy . . . read more
While some school districts have moved to year-round schedules, most still adhere to the traditional nine-month calendar, with a winter break, spring break, and a lengthy summer break sprinkled throughout the year. These vacations offer much-needed respite from school, but even spring break, which is typically only a week, can have a measurable negative impact on a child’s mental acuity. At 10-12 weeks, summer vacation can result in a substantial brain drain that can significantly impact your child’s education.
What is Brain Drain?
As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. According to research, over the course of summer vacation, students lose between 2 to 2 ½ months of math skills from the previous year’s learning. This loss of computational understanding is experienced by children regardless of their background or family income. Some students also experience significant setbacks in reading ability as well. Students with a low socioeconomic status can lose up to three months of reading skills in just 2-3 months of summer break. These deficits also appear during the shorter winter and spring vacations, although not in nearly as robust a fashion.
The vacation brain drain is a serious issue for children of all ages, but the stakes are much higher for kids in high school. With SATs, ACTs, AP and IB courses, and other high-demand academic requirements, high schoolers can little afford to return to school having lost 2-3 months of academic skills. Fortunately, this brain drain can be substantially or completely reversed . . . read more
Parent-teacher conferences can be a bit unnerving for parents regardless of how many times they’ve attended. It can be difficult to cover all the questions you have in a short period of time, and you may even leave the conference feeling like you weren’t able to accomplish much. However, there are practical steps you can take before, during, and after parent-teacher conferences to ensure you have all the information you need to support your child’s learning.
Before the Conference
Parent-teacher conferences are often set up such that parents have precious little time with each teacher, in many cases 10-15 minutes at the absolute most. In order to get the most out of your appointment, come to the conference prepared. Begin by reviewing your child’s grades beforehand, including their report card, any progress reports, work your child has brought home, and any comments your child’s teacher has made on his or her homework. Gathering as much information as you can ahead of time will allow you to formulate questions to ask your child’s teacher and be ready to dive into the discussion once your appointment time arrives. Some possible questions to ask include:
- Is my child performing at grade level?
- What are my child’s strengths? Weaknesses?
- What can my child do to improve academically?
- What can I do to help my child improve academically?
It’s important to be prepared whether your child is doing well or poorly. On the one hand, if your child is struggling you’ll need to be familiar with why this . . . read more