Starting school is both exciting and hard. You will need to help your child in school. Learn how to support your children in their school life and help them succeed.
School is where children spend the most time. They learn language and culture in school. It is important for parents to help. You might not know English well, but there are many ways you can help your child. And you can show them how to help themselves! Here are some ideas to help you help your child in school.
Tips for all ages
- Ask your child about their feelings
A child in school will not always talk about how he or she is feeling. They might be having a hard time, but they may not want to worry you. Ask them often how they are feeling. They are more likely to tell you about their problems if you ask.
- Visit the school with your child
It is hard to start at a new school. Visit the school with your child before the first day of school. Then they won’t be so confused or lost on their first day.
- Find out about sports and other activities
many children in the US play sports in teams. Others join clubs or play music after school. Find out if your child is interested in any activities. Sports will help keep them healthy and make friends.
- Buy or find materials
Try to buy the books and supplies your child needs before school starts. If you cannot afford supplies, talk to your child’s teacher. They will tell you where to get help with supplies.
- Be honest with teachers
American schools are concerned with children’s welfare as well as with their education. Also, American teachers are very direct. They will want to talk to you about any behavior problems. For a very young child in school, they may talk about issues with their bodies. For example, a preschool teacher might tell you your child is having stomach trouble or has a rash. If this makes you uncomfortable, remember that the teacher is trying to help your child. You can support your child and the teacher by talking honestly about problems and finding solutions.
Daycare and preschool
Children can start daycare when they are babies. Some daycares will take children who are 2 months old. Children are usually 4 or 5 years old when they start kindergarten. This is when they need the most help.
Find clothes and shoes that are easy to put on and take off
Teachers in preschool and daycare teach many children to dress and help them when they can’t. When clothes are easy to take off, you are helping both the child and teacher.
Set the same schedule as school
If your child takes a nap or has quiet time at school, do the same at home. It will make it easier for them to follow the school routine.
Reading is a good habit to start when your children are young. Reading helps your child do well in school. Try to read to your child a few times a week and at bedtime. If you do not know English well, find picture books and ask your child to tell you what is happening in the pictures. You can also start to learn English letters together.
Elementary school and middle school
Your child will start grade 1 at age 6. Elementary and middle school include grades 1 to 8.
Set a homework routine
Children in the US get some kind of homework every day. You should encourage them to do at least a little bit every night. If you don’t understand what they are working on, ask them to tell you about it. Try to help them when you can.
Check in with the teacher
Make sure to attend parent-teacher conferences to learn how your child is doing. If you need a translator, tell your child to ask the teacher ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to talk to the teacher about anything that you might be worried about.
Read books with your children every day until they are fluent readers. If you do not know English, you can ask the child to read to you in English and translate. Many children will want to play video games, watch TV, or be on social media at this age. Make sure to limit their time and show them that reading is important.
Children usually start high school when they are 14 or 15. High school brings different challenges.
Continue to talk to your child about school every day
At this age, your child may not tell you as much as they used to. Encourage them to talk about what they are learning and how they are feeling.
Go to events
If your child does sports or activities, go to them if you can. Parents in the US support the children by showing up. This can also help you meet more people in your community.
Talk about next steps
High school is when students in the United States start planning for college. Encourage your children in their plans. Get help from the school with career and college planning.
A former newcomer talks about the challenges she faced when starting school as a child. She offers some advice about how to help your child.
A special note for single mothers
Parenting teenagers is hard! We don’t always know what to do when our children grow and change. This can be hardest for single mothers with sons age 17 and older. If your student is failing in high school, he may skip classes or leave school altogether.
Watch out for warning signs. If your child seems depressed or stops talking to you about school, he may be failing. Continue to ask questions carefully and patiently to encourage him to talk to you. Stay in touch with his teachers and school, so you know what is going on. It is part of their job to help with problems.
If you are really worried, ask for help. Start with the National Parent Helpline. It has trained people who can give you support and advice by phone at (855) 427-2736, Monday to Friday, 10 am PST to 7 pm PST. It also has many online resources.
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