By Alice Wellborn
Everyday Education 

Help Children As School Year Winds Down


This school year is winding down and we’re looking ahead to the next one. What can busy parents do to support, guide, and encourage their children as they learn and explore at home and at school? How can parents significantly improve their children’s educational experiences? Here are some ideas:

Read with your child and talk about the book. Beginning readers need lots of practice and they love to read to parents. Children of all ages enjoy being read to by a parent, and that’s valuable too. When a child is struggling with a book, take turns reading it. Reading at home should be a pleasure, not a chore.

Stop by the Transylvania County Library and get your child a library card. Browse in the children’s section. Check out the library programs available for your child’s age group. If your child needs some help selecting an appropriate book, just ask the librarian. She’ll be glad to help.

Ask about homework, and check it over when it’s done. Children need to know that their parents value education and expect them to work hard in school.

Check your child’s backpack for forgotten notes and assignments. When children first get home, it’s wise to check their backpacks for notes, permission slips, and assignments. You’d be surprised at what can get buried in a backpack!

Ask your child if he needs any school supplies or homework supplies. Put them on the shopping list now. If there is a project coming up, make sure you have everything your child needs to complete the project. Have you ever made a 9 p.m. run to Walmart for poster board and glue? That’s what I’m talking about!

Check the classroom website. Many teachers have a classroom website where they post homework assignments and class news, although this is not a requirement in Transylvania County Schools. North Carolina has moved to a new student information system called PowerSchool. Once the kinks are out and the system is functioning smoothly, parents will be able to access their child’s grades at any time.

Keep your kids healthy. Strong learners need good nutrition and a good night’s sleep to be ready for a day of school. Teach your children to make healthy choices.

Make an appointment to have your child’s eyes checked. If you have any concerns at all about your child’s vision, it’s time for an eye exam. And remember – kids don’t notice when their eyesight gets weak, so it’s wise to have vision checked periodically.

Turn off media and have a conversation with your child about the school day. Ask specific questions about classes and teachers. Talk about the funny things that happened. What was your child’s favorite activity? Was anything hard?

Write a thank you note. Whenever someone at school does something great for your child, sit down and write a short note of appreciation. Setting up positive communication is one of the most powerful ways that parents can help their children at school.

Write down school events on the family calendar. You can’t participate if you don’t remember to go, and you can’t be part of the school community if you don’t participate! Your children need you to be an active participant in their school life.

Read the information your child brings home about Scouts, Honor Chorus, or any other opportunity to expand his horizons. Find out if he is interested and then figure out a way to make it happen. It’s not necessary to involve your children in lots of different activities, but it is important to support their strong interests and give them opportunities to explore those interests.

Prepare for a parent/teacher conference by writing down your child’s strengths and challenges. What motivates her? What consequences work best? What does she love? Children perform best when parents and teachers work as a team and share information.

Talk to the teacher or the principal about volunteer opportunities, pick one, and make a commitment to follow through. Volunteering regularly at school is a great way to become part of the school community and forge relationships with school staff.

Check the school system website for information that affects your children – the discipline policy, homework policy, athletic eligibility, etc. Many times parents get frustrated because they don’t have the information they need to help their children. These days it’s almost always online and at your fingertips. Be in the know.

Find a day you can eat lunch with your child at school. Elementary school children love to have a parent come eat lunch, and it gives you a chance to meet some school friends. If this is possible for you, get it scheduled.

I challenge every one of you to pick one thing – just one – to get started. Your goal? To become a strong, positive member of your child’s school community and a strong partner in your child’s education. Your child is worth it. You can do it.

(Wellborn now retired, but formerly a school psychologist in Transylvania County schools.)


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