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Posts Tagged ‘Students’

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Support from parents is key to helping kids do well academically. Here are 10 ways parents can put their kids on track to be successful students.

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1. Attend Back-to-School Night and Parent-Teacher Conferences

Kids do better in school when parents are involved in their academic lives. Attending back-to-school night at the start of the school year is a great way to get to know your child’s teacher and his or her expectations. School administrators may discuss school-wide programs and policies, too.

Attending parent-teacher conferences is another way to stay informed. These are usually held once or twice a year at progress reporting periods. The conferences are a chance to start or continue conversations with your child’s teacher, and discuss strategies to help your child do his or her best in class. Meeting with the teacher also lets your child know that what goes on in school will be shared at home.

If your child has special learning needs, additional meetings can be scheduled with teachers and other school staff to consider setting up or revising individualized education plans (IEPs), 504 education plans, or gifted education plans.

Keep in mind that parents or guardians can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counselors, or other school staff any time during the school year.

 

2. Visit the School and Its Website

Knowing the physical layout of the school building and grounds can help you connect with your child when you talk about the school day. It’s good to know the location of the main office, school nurse, cafeteria, gym, athletic fields, playgrounds, auditorium, and special classes.

On the school website, you can find information about:

  • the school calendar
  • staff contact information
  • upcoming events like class trips
  • testing dates

Many teachers maintain their own websites that detail homework assignments, test dates, and classroom events and trips. Special resources for parents and students are also usually available on the district, school, or teacher websites.

 

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3. Support Homework Expectations

Homework in grade school reinforces and extends classroom learning and helps kids practice important study skills. It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility and a work ethic that will benefit them beyond the classroom.

In addition to making sure your child knows that you see homework as a priority, you can help by creating an effective study environment. Any well-lit, comfortable, and quiet workspace with the necessary supplies will do. Avoiding distractions (like a TV in the background) and setting up a start and end time can also help.

A good rule of thumb for an effective homework and/or study period is roughly 10 minutes per elementary grade level. Fourth-graders, for example, should expect to have about 40 minutes of homework or studying each school night. If you find that it’s often taking significantly longer than this guideline, talk with your child’s teacher.

While your child does homework, be available to interpret assignment instructions, offer guidance, answer questions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the correct answers or complete the assignments yourself. Learning from mistakes is part of the process and you don’t want to take this away from your child.

 

4. Send Your Child to School Ready to Learn

A nutritious breakfast fuels up kids and gets them ready for the day. In general, kids who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Kids who eat breakfast also are less likely to be absent, and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger.

You can help boost your child’s attention span, concentration, and memory by providing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein, as well as low in added sugar. If your child is running late some mornings, send along fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Many schools provide nutritious breakfast options before the first bell.

Kids also need the right amount of sleep to be alert and ready to learn all day. Most school-age kids need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Bedtime difficulties can arise at this age for a variety of reasons. Homework, sports, after-school activities, TVs, computers, and video games, as well as hectic family schedules, can contribute to kids not getting enough sleep.

Lack of sleep can cause irritable or hyper types of behavior and might make it difficult for kids to pay attention in class. It’s important to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on school nights. Be sure to leave enough time before bed to allow your child to unwind before lights out and limit stimulating diversions like TV, video games, and Internet access.

 

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5. Teach Organizational Skills

When kids are organized, they can stay focused instead of spending time hunting things down and getting sidetracked.

What does it mean to be organized at the elementary level? For schoolwork, it means having an assignment book and homework folder (many schools supply these) to keep track of homework and projects.

Check your child’s assignment book and homework folder every school night so you’re familiar with assignments and your child doesn’t fall behind. Set up a bin for papers that you need to check or sign. Also, keep a special box or bin for completed and graded projects and toss papers that you don’t need to keep.

Talk to your child about keeping his or her school desk orderly so papers that need to come home don’t get lost. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help stay organized.

It’s also helpful to teach your child how to make a to-do list to help prioritize and get things done. It can be as simple as:

  1. homework
  2. soccer
  3. put clothes away

No one is born with great organizational skills — they need to be learned and practiced.

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6. Teach Study Skills

Studying for a test can be scary for young kids, and many educators assume parents will help their kids during the grade-school years. Introducing your child to study skills now will pay off with good learning habits throughout life.

In elementary school, kids usually take end-of-unit tests in math, spelling, science, and social studies. Be sure to know when a test is scheduled so you can help your child study ahead of time rather than just the night before. You also might need to remind your child to bring home the right study materials, such as notes, study guides, or books.

Teach your child how to break down overall tasks into smaller, manageable chunks so preparing for a test isn’t overwhelming. You also can introduce your child to tricks like mnemonic devices to help with recalling information. Remember that taking a break after a 45-minute study period is an important way to help kids process and remember information.

Your child probably will be introduced to standardized testing in elementary school. While students can’t really study for standardized tests, some teachers provide practice tests to help ease students’ worries.

In general, if studying and testing becomes a source of stress for your child, discuss the situation with the teacher or school counselor.

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7. Know the Disciplinary Policies

Schools usually cite their disciplinary policies (sometimes called the student code of conduct) in student handbooks. The rules cover expectations, and consequences for not meeting the expectations, for things like student behavior, dress codes, use of electronic devices, and acceptable language.

The policies may include details about attendance, vandalism, cheating, fighting, and weapons. Many schools also have specific policies about bullying. It’s helpful to know the school’s definition of bullying, consequences for bullies, support for victims, and procedures for reporting bullying.

It’s important for your child to know what’s expected at school and that you’ll support the school’s consequences when expectations aren’t met. It’s easiest for students when school expectations match the ones at home, so kids see both environments as safe and caring places that work together as a team.

8. Get Involved

Whether kids are just starting kindergarten or entering their last year of elementary school, there are many good reasons for parents to volunteer at school. It’s a great way for parents to show they’re interested in their kids’ education.

Many grade-schoolers like to see their parents at school or at school events. But follow your child’s cues to find out how much interaction works for both of you. If your child seems uncomfortable with your presence at the school or with your involvement in an extracurricular activity, consider taking a more behind-the-scenes approach. Make it clear that you aren’t there to spy — you’re just trying to help out the school community.

Parents can get involved by:

  • being a classroom helper or homeroom parent
  • organizing and/or working at fundraising activities and other special events, like bake sales, car washes, and book fairs
  • chaperoning field trips
  • planning class parties
  • attending school board meetings
  • joining the school’s parent-teacher group
  • working as a library assistant
  • reading a story to the class
  • giving a talk for career day
  • attending school concerts or plays

Check the school or teacher website to find volunteer opportunities that fit your schedule. Even giving a few hours during the school year can make an impression on your child.

9. Take Attendance Seriously

Sick kids should stay home from school if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. Kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don’t seem to be acting “themselves” should also take a sick day.

Otherwise, it’s important that kids arrive at school on time every day, because having to catch up with class work and homework can be stressful and interfere with learning.

If your child is missing a lot of school due to illness, make sure to check with the teacher about any work that needs to be completed. It’s also a good idea to know the school’s attendance policy.

Sometimes students want to stay home from school because of problems with classmates, assignments or grades, or even teachers. This can result in real symptoms, like headaches or stomachaches. If you think there’s a problem at school, talk with your child — and then perhaps with the teacher — to find out more about what’s causing the anxiety. The school counselor or school psychologist also might be able to help.

Also try to avoid late bedtimes, which can result in tardy and tired students. A consistent sleep schedule can help.

 

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10. Make Time to Talk About School

It’s usually easy to talk with elementary students about what’s going on in class and the latest news at school. You probably know what books your child is reading and are familiar with the math being worked on. But parents can get busy and forget to ask the simple questions, which can have an effect on children’s success at school.

Make time to talk with your child every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they’ll take school seriously as well.

Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your child can influence how well your child listens and responds. It’s important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you chat. Be sure to ask questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” answers.

Besides during family meals, good times to talk include car trips (though eye contact isn’t needed here, of course), walking the dog, preparing meals, or standing in line at a store.

These early years of schooling are an important time for parents to be informed and supportive about their child’s education.

 

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Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD

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Madame Tussaud pales in comparison to the Living Wax Museum, presented by the 3rd grade at the private Dutchess Day School. Students stood frozen with pride as they became one with their favorite famous American….citing “fun facts” and “historical trivia” in front of a giant paper backdrop.

 
Old Fashioned Fun was at work, as attendees had to push a button to hear the interesting information, and once pushed it was amazing to learn details of the famous Americans.

 
Hudson Cornelius Heinemann chose Duke Ellington, the composer, pianist and bandleader. In true Ellington style Hudson sported spectators by A. Testoni and a dapper Merlot wide stripped button down, for his Ellington look.

 
Ellington’s career spanned 50 years composing masterpieces like “It don’t mean anything, if it ain’t got that swing” and “Prelude to a kiss.” He was a 12 time Grammy award winner and really knew how to get the crowd moving with unique jazz melodies. The project was in true Old Fashioned Mom style as students had to pull a book out of the library and use an encyclopedia to learn about bibliographies.

 
The Head Mistress, Nancy Hathaway perused each wax figure while other notable Americans included: Amelia Earhart, Edger Allan Poe, Babe Ruth, Arthur Ashe, Betsey Ross, and Sacajawea. “This was a great project, I enjoyed making my backdrop and studying about Duke Ellington. I feel I became more connected with him, as opposed to just googling his name, definitely more interesting to go to the library.” said Hudson Heinemann.

 

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Hudson Heinemann

 

1934: American jazz pianist, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899 - 1974) smiles as he holds a double bass on his shoulder and a flute in one hand, Hollywood, CA. He is wearing a fedora, a suit, and a scarf around his neck. Ellington and his band were in Hollywood to appear in director Mitchell Liesen's film, 'Murder at the Vanities.' (Photo by Frank Driggs/Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images)

Duke Ellington


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Head Mistress, Nancy Hathaway and 3rd grader Hudson Heinemann

university speakrers

gazette-logoHand-raising is a quick, cost-effective, time-tested technique for gauging student knowledge and progress, but it may not give an accurate picture of students’ grasp of a subject. A new Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) faculty working paper co-authored by Senior Lecturer Dan Levy, doctoral student Joshua Yardley and Professor Richard Zeckhauser examines the biases and challenges that result from hand-raising and the potential solutions offered by the use of “clickers” in the classroom.

“Since student satisfaction often correlates imperfectly with student learning, it is important to explore the ways in which clickers may impact learning specifically, in addition to the positive reviews they are getting from users,” the authors explain in the paper’s introduction.

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Richard Zeckhauser, Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy (L) and Dan Levy, Senior Lecturer (R) Clickers, the researchers argue, may be beneficial in allowing students to complete the learning process (thinking through their own independent responses to a question) and thus giving teachers a clearer picture of their students’ learning

 

The paper examines the possible benefits of clickers, chief among them anonymity – eliminating the usual “herding” behavior that can result when students are asked to raise their hands. Using a clicker, students are denied the opportunity to mimic other students, and are freed from the embarrassment or peer pressures that would promote certain choices. They can only choose independently.

The researchers conducted experiments in 22 different university classrooms, working with more than 1100 total respondents. Each classroom was divided into two groups: one with hand raising and the other with clickers. The response results differed significantly between the two groups. The hand-raising results were generally more clustered, consistent with the researchers’ theories on herding behavior.

“Those providing erroneous answers love company,” the authors note. But students may also “cluster” toward the responses of their classmates who are known to be knowledgeable about a topic, even if those answers are in the minority. For certain types of questions, the authors found that “clustering with others may also be helpful when there is no single right answer.”

While herding does sometimes push more students toward the correct answer to a question, the students may simply be following the crowd instead of arriving at the correct answer on their own. Clickers, the researchers argue, may be beneficial in allowing students to complete the learning process (thinking through their own independent responses to a question) and thus giving teachers a clearer picture of their students’ learning. Clickers also enable students to comfortably express minority or unpopular political views.

Besides allowing students to engage with questions on their own, clicked responses “can be an important source of feedback for teachers,” the authors explain. Yardley adds, “Clicker data that more accurately reflect student knowledge can help teachers make better informed real-time decisions regarding pacing and focus.” For example, Yardley says, “If clicker data suggest that students understand a particular concept, the teacher moves on, whereas if the data reveal student confusion, the teacher may decide to stay with the topic longer.”

“It seems likely that clicker responses give the teacher a better picture of where the students actually are in understanding a given concept or question,” the authors conclude. The study provides compelling evidence that hand-raising and clicker responses differ significantly from one another, and raises interesting questions about the potential use of both techniques in classrooms of the future.

Dan Levy is senior lecturer in public policy and Faculty Chair of the Kennedy School’s SLATE (Strengthening Learning and Teaching Excellence) Initiative. He teaches courses in quantitative methods and program evaluation. He recently directed impact evaluations of girl-friendly school construction programs in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Joshua Yardley is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at Harvard University, with a focus on research in development economics and education.

Richard Zeckhauser is the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School. His contributions to decision theory and behavioral economics include the concepts of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), status quo bias, betrayal aversion, and ignorance (states of the world unknown) as a complement to the categories of risk and uncertainty. Many of his policy investigations explore ways to promote the health of human beings, to help markets work more effectively, and to foster informed and appropriate choices by individuals and government agencies.

 

Written By Katie Gibson