• Tips for Parents

    Parents often ask what they can do at home to promote good student habits and help their children succeed in school.  Here are the Top 10 Tips to help Clarke students at home:

    1.    Provide a home base for homework.  Create a space in your home that is your child’s home base for all things school.  It should be clean, organized, and have materials like pens, paper and calculators ready.  It doesn’t have to be a desk – the kitchen or dining room table works, as long as there is good lighting and a sturdy chair.  Most importantly, students should be doing their homework in the same place every day… consistency is key!

    2.   Check their homework planner.  You don’t have to check daily (which they will appreciate!), but you should spot check their agenda to make sure homework is being recorded for every class, every day.  This is an important skill to develop into a consistent habit.  Clarke provides agendas, or students can use their own.  And remember – Teacher Web is a back up, they should be writing down homework IN class.

    3.   Help develop a paper organization system.  Handouts and papers should be organized by subject, and neatly filed in binders.  Color code, use dividers, and keep only essential supplies.  The front of binders should be kept clean, and only “active” papers such as due assignments or permission slips should be there.  Help them periodically clean out the binder as well – recycle old papers, or keep them in a folder at home.

    4.   Encourage your child to estimate how long each assignment will take.  This improves planning, prioritization, and time management skills.  Help them to schedule their time, spend the appropriate amount of time on assignments, and monitor their efficiency.  This is a great way to identify challenging areas; if they think math will take them 15 minutes and it’s been an hour, talk to them about why.

    5.   Break down big projects.  Managing projects is a lifelong skill, but it needs to be developed.  Help them schedule mini-deadlines for long term or big projects.  It will avoid last minute rushing, they won’t feel overwhelmed, and it will teach them how to break big projects down into manageable chunks.

    6.   Communicate with your child’s teachers.  Sometimes parents see behaviors at home that teachers can’t see at school.  Opening the doors of communication can shed light on small problems before they spiral into big ones. 

    7.   Ask the right questions.  It’s nothing new that middle school students don’t want their parents asking the same question every night… “Did you do your homework?”  Ask questions that guide and support, such as “Do you have everything you need to start the assignment?”  “Is there anything challenging you’re working on right now?”

    8.   Observe how they study.  Studying is not a natural skill for all students.  Do they know what the test is on, or are they just rereading?  Do they have a study guide, either from the teacher or that they made?  Do they know the format of the test?  Do they have test anxiety?  These seem like basic questions, but many students can improve their grades just by learning good test preparation and taking skills.

    9.   Reflect on what works.  Sometimes other people can notice things we can’t see about ourselves, even our strengths.  Good report cards and assignment grades are great opportunities to spotlight successes, and apply approaches that work to other subjects.  For example, “This A in math is really impressive!  How did the quarter go?  Was it easy for you?  Why?”  They may realize they do their math homework first everyday, and their concentration and focus decreases as the night goes on.  By changing the order of homework, they can easily give the same amount of attention to other subjects.

    10.  Let them relax!  Middle school is a lot of work, and developing good student habits requires a lot of mental effort.  Getting used to a new schedule and the increased amount of work and can be stressful, and stress affects everything we do.   If your child is unusually anxious about school or their workload, talk to them about it.  Exercise, socializing, and time with family is important… help them find the right balance between school and life, and they’ll benefit from it throughout their entire academic career.