Sunday, January 31, 2010

What TV Limits Should I Set For My Child?

Studies show that the brain is more active sleeping then watching TV. This is especially important to know because our children spend too much time in front of the TV. Controlling television watching is one way to immediately and directly aid your child's success in school. Children who watch spend less time watching TV spend more time reading and doing homework. Below are some suggestions as to how to limit television watching according to "The Mom Book Goes To School:

1. No television on during mealtimes

2. No television on school days, or no television on school days until everyone has finished all their work and a half hour of leisure reading.

3. No television before completing household task.

4. Allot your child a particular number of television viewing hours per week, and let the child choose how to use the time with your supervision. Unused hours could be cashed in for a small treat.

5. National TV Turn-off Week is scheduled for every April. Make this a celebration time, with family game nights and outings. Your child might just learn how easy it is to live without television.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Can I Instill A Love For Reading In My Child?

Reading is extremely important for a child's education. There are somethings you can do to help develop a lifelong appreciation for the written word.

1. Take trips to the local library weekly. Many times there are special guest and programs designed for children.

2. Make sure your child is reading age appropriate books that they can read and understand independently.

3. Read books together and have a discussion. These books should be above reading level.

4. Consider giving your child a monthly book allowance to purchase books. This will let your child know how much you value reading.

5. Whenever there is a holiday or birthday always include a book in the gifts.

6. Keep reading materials available for reading in the reach of your child.

7. Keep a bag of books in the car for your child to read while riding or going to appointments so the child can read while waiting.

8. Help your child create a reading space at home that is comfortable and free of other activities.

9. Encourage your child to swap books with friends or start a reading club.

10. Be sure your child sees you reading. Remember you are the example.

11. Make sure you don't force the child to read more time than they are interested. Let your child read for a few minutes and try to increase the time. You want your child to have a true love.

12. Give positive feedback whenever you see you child reading.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Acceptable Classroom Behaviors

Teachers report that the most frustrating behavior they have to deal with is disrespect. This is when students are interrupting others, shouting out answers, or talking back to adults. Disrespectful students cause more interruptions, and forces the teacher to put lesson plans on hold to deal with them. Nearly half of the teachers say they spend more time controlling their classroom then teaching.

Teach your child that paying attention and being respectful is expected behavior. Teach your child that sitting up straight, making eye contact with the teacher, folding hand hands while listening, and not daydreaming will increase their concentration. Set example for your child by being a good listener yourself. Maintain eye contact as you speck to your child, show interest in what your child is saying, and do not interrupt the child when they are speaking.

According to Stacy DeBroff, author of "The Mom Book Goes To School", you can increase your child's concentration skills by playing games:

1. Ask your child to recite as many colors, states, songs, animals, pop singers, or football players, as possible in 30 seconds.

2. Have your child describe what he smell when you are cooking, what he sees on the way to school, and what instruments are in songs on the radio.

3. Play the take-away at the dinner table. Everyone close their eyes except one person, who removes an object form the table. Then the others open their eyes and guess what is missing.

4. Practice listening skills by making up stories together in the car. Take turns adding one sentence at a time, and see how long you can make the story.

5. Work on classroom manners by playing school at home. Play the badly behaved student, waving your hands in the air to be called on and shouting out answers, as a way to comically get the point across.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vision and Hearing Problems and Education

When kids go for testing for reading problems, they often simply take a vision and hearing test and find that the child is not seeing or hearing words clearly. Children with unrecognized vision and hearing problems suffer academically, which can affect behavior as well. Make sure that your child's vision and hearing are not overlooked. Many times learning disabilities is a sensory problem, such as vision or hearing impairment. Make sure your child gets the proper screening for visual and hearing on a regular basis.

You can possibly prevent certain kinds of visual and hearing problems. Poor lighting for close reading leads to myopia, while excessive television watching and computer use are linked to poor peripheral vision, farsightedness, and other visual problems. Hearing problems can be prevented by turning down the volume on i-pods, televisions, and computer games. If you can hear your child's music while they have on earphones, the music/game is too loud. Taking these small steps will help your child's vision and hearing

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Importance of Parental Involvement In Schools

Recent studies show that effectiely engaging parents in their children's education creates more change thatn any educational reform. Children with parents who are actively involved in their education achieve higher grades and standardize test scores, behave better in class, have more self-confidence, and tend to enjoy learning throughout life.

Too many parents feel it is totally up to the school to educate and socialize their child. The school does the best they can while the child is with them. The average child spends 180 days a year in schoo for approximately seven hours a day, totaling 7,500 hour a year your child does not spend in school. How children spend their time outside of the classroom deeply impacts his quality of learning. The parents' challenge is to make the most of your child's education away from school.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Can I Help With My Child's Social Development?

Poor social interaction with peers can impact a child academically because school is designed for students to work together. Teaching good social behavior is especially important for children who are more comfortable being alone. These children may have short tempers, trouble sharing, or problems responding to what is happening around them.

Activities at home that can make a child interact will teach your child good sportsmanship, controlling tempers, and losing gracefully. Also, playing games that make a child communicate in a group and cooperation are also good. Creating situations where the child must respond to someonelse's needs are helpful. Some examples of games and activities that could help are:

1. Board games (checkers, monopoly, sorry, or card games)
2. Charades
3. Team sports (baseball, basketball, or swim team)
4. Building models (cars, airplanes, or ships)
5. Family charities (soup kitchens, nursing homes, or community gardens)

Most importantly encourage your child to take responsibility for his or her actions and talk about what is appropriate in handling various situations.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting The Teachers Help With Learning Difficulties

How can you get help from the teacher if your child is having academic difficulties? As soon as you notice your child is not understanding a concept or lesson, contact the teacher to find out what can be done. When you talk to the teacher find out if the teacher has the same concerns. Most of the time trying different things can stop a small problem from getting out of hand. Below are some simple suggestions to start out trying:

1. Changing a child's seating arrangement away from friends and peers. Many times a child is distracted because of socializing with friends and moving them will get them focused.

2. Sitting the child closer to the teacher. Many students who have a hard time staying focused will sit close to the teacher to keep their attention. It works for some children.

3. Simply sitting down and talking to your child about expectations and consequences for not trying. Come up with a plan of action that is realistic and the child is involved in developing. Let the teacher know the plan so they can help and make suggestions. It can be a team effort.

4.Find out if the child is having problems academically across the board or only a particular subject. If it is only a particular subject, you may need to get tutoring in that subject. If it is across the board, you may want to look into learning styles and possible testing for more serious concerns.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How To Show Appreciation To The Teacher

Teachers love getting gives from students and parents, but a simple note or personal phone call really goes a long way. Just as parents like to hear about their child's progress and academic success, teachers are grateful for your recognition. Here are some suggestions on showing the teacher appreciation according to Stacy DeBroff, author of "The Mom Book":

1.Writing a small personal card letting the teacher know you noticed a new spark in your child, or remarks about her expertise and instruction. It will mean a lot to the teacher and it will strength your relationship.

2.Instead of just signing your child's homework or test papers, add a small note of thanks.

3. Write a letter at the end of the year thanking the teacher of the role they played in your child's life. Leave space for your child to write something.

4. For a teacher you feel is truly wonderful, write a letter and give specific examples of how the teacher touched your child's life and forward it to the principal.

5. Giving gifts to teachers is a great way to say thank you, be sure there is no cap on how much you can give to a teacher. In some states, $50.00 is the limit for giving gifts to a teacher because of bribery concerns.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Personal Information and The Teacher

How much personal information should I give to the teacher?

While you do not have to give every detail of private family issues, you may want the teacher to know about serious issues your child is dealing with. Such issues as a new baby, Illnesses, a divorce or separation, a remarriage, or a death. When your child is dealing with major stresses or changes in life it can affect the child's behavior and academic performance. It will also help the teacher to know how to handle certain situations or talk to the child instead of threats of discipline when behavior changes.

When the teacher is aware of major events going on in your child's life, it can help provide support and a sense of safety when the child needs to transition through the changes. Your elementary child won't always know or understand what should be shared and what stays with the family. The child will many times give details on any trouble at home. Despite your efforts to teach your child about keeping family issue private. Teachers are sometimes put in uncomfortable positions of knowing your personal family issues without your having told the teacher. It is best to inform the teacher of any problems that may effect your child's school performance.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Keeping A Positive Relationship Between Child - Teacher

How can I keep a positive relationship going between your child and the teacher? Sometimes bad relationships can develop between the teacher and a child if things are not handled properly. Many times the difference can be in teaching styles and learning style, or simple miscommunication. By strategically getting involved, you can prevent teacher-child relationship from deteriorating further. Here are some suggestions from Stacy DeBroff, author of "The Mom Book Goes to School".

1. Tell the teacher the concerns your child expresses, and ask for the teacher's insights. Don't be confrontational, listen to their prospective, and come up with potential solutions.

2. Be aware that the teacher might not remember things perfectly, so unless there was a major incident you are concerned about, focus on fixing issues for the future, not getting the most accurate account of what has already happened.

3. Address problems in the child-teacher relationship directly to your child's teacher. Advocate for your child by repeating their concerns in a meeting without the child. You can say, "This issue concerns me because I am not sure why my child has this perception. I would like to make you aware of it and hear what you think and how we can turn this perception around."

Always try to handle these situations calmly and even handily. It will make all the difference in the child-teacher relationship for the rest of the year and years to come.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Parent = Teacher Relationship

How can you build a good working relationship with your child's teacher? There are several basic things you can do to build that relationship. It is a relationship that will be for an entire school year and the teacher will spend as much if not more time with your child then you will. Here are a few suggestions on building a cooperative and good relationship with the teacher.

1. Make sure you meet the teacher in the beginning of the year and make it a positive first encounter. It should be short and pleasant leaving the teacher with the impression that you are there to assist and support.

2. Make sure there is frequent communication. This will stop small issues turning into big ones. I would say check with the teacher once a month to see if things are going well. Also, this let your child know you and the teacher are on the same page and working together to improve their performance in school.

3, Trust is a very important part of the parent teacher relationship. When the teacher knows and trust you as a parent who respects their skills in the classroom, the teacher will likely keep you informed because they feel they can be honest with you without worrying about how you will react.

4. Make sure you take advantage of everything your child's school has to offer. That would include PTA meetings, open house, fundraisers, sporting events, special programs, and book fairs. Never try to have a conference at with the teacher at these events, but make sure the teacher and principal know you are there for support.

5. Most importantly, recognize the often difficult job of a teacher. Teachers are expected to develop lessons that both enriches and addresses each child's individual needs. They also must prepare students for annual standardize test, while providing a solid academic experience, accommodating learning disabilities, keeping discipline under control, give emotional support to all students, and balance all this every school day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Should I Use Rewards To Motivate My Child Academically?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all children were self-motivated to do their best school work? In reality, some children need extra incentives to get them moving. Many times teacher approval, parental praise, grades, stickers, or a simple congratulations works.

Sometimes it may take material rewards for improving grades, but the reward should be small and inexpensive. Reward your child, but don't bribe the child. Bribing a child to do schoolwork by offering money for each good grade can make a child associate learning with rewards instead of giving the child a sense of pride and understanding of the full value of his or her efforts. When you discuss the rewards for achieving academic goals give your child choices.

Examples of things to do to reward your child for good grades:

1. Have the family go to a favorite restaurant or go get ice cream sundae.

2. Positive reinforcement is more motivating than any kind of punishment. Sometimes it can be as simple as a pat on the back.

3. Offer to have a friend over to spend the night.

4. Go bowling, skating, or play favorite games.

5. A week with no chores.

6. A trip the the local library or art museum.

7. Time together at the community park or playground.

8. Take a picture of the child with their ribbon or report card and put it on the web for family and friends to see or send it to grandparent in the mail.

9. Let the child stay up late on night to watch a favorite movie with popcorn and coke.

10. Take a day off and go to the next field trip.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What To Do With The Underachiever

Motivation is a very reliable predictor of a child's success in school. So many times underachievers can do the work, but they don't feel the work is meaningful or important or they are just so frustrated that they no longer try. The most common belief of the underachiever is that there is no control over what happens at school and the work is boring and repetitious. Most underachievers fail to take responsibility for their own behavior, so the blame is put on other people or outside forces.

Things to do:

The first step is changing the expectations of everyone involved. If your child has a history of failure and frustration, make sure the child experiences success so there is confidence to keep trying. Make sure that you and the teacher are on the same page and working toward the success and motivation of your child. Let the child know that you don't expect all "A's" overnight, but you do expect improvement.

Teach your children to have pride in their work. Don't accept sloppy and second rate homework from your child if you know they can do better. Reinforce the idea of checking over work before turning it in. Make sure the work is the best they can do and is always quality.

What you say to your children will affect the way they perceives themselves. Praise your child when it is deserved, but avoid over-kill. Too much or undeserved praise may cause intense pressure or unrealistic expectations and may soon become meaningless to the child. Always let your child know you love them and expect them to always to their best.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What Should I Do If My Child Struggles In School?

Everyone wants their child to do well in school. What can you do if your child struggles with school work? You must realize that children will often develop and learn at different stages. Try not to panic and don't become frustrated. It will only frustrate the child. Many children will hesitate to admit whey they don't understand because they don't want to appear "slow" or "dumb". As long as a child has a strong base and passion and confidence for learning, it will hopefully become easier.

First, take a breathe and realize that most kids struggle at one time or another. Just because a child is having difficulty doesn't mean there is a learning disability. It may mean the child is not developmentally ready for certain concepts. Patience is the key. Don't do the work for the child, but let the child work through problems as independently as possible. Children need to feel that they are successful, not the parent will do the work. Make sure you meet with the teacher and together create a plan on what you can do at home to help your child. See if the teacher has any concerns and work together to solve the the situation.

Next, find out concrete examples of the problems your child is having, like test scores, classwork, or homework. That way you will better understand how to help. If you cannot help with a certain subject, seek help from older siblings, friends, tutors, or ask the teacher for suggestions. It is important to address any academic problems as soon as possible. The child doesn't need to go on to another concept, chapter, or grade level without mastering all basic lessons.

Lastly, be positive and give your child confidence. Nothing will cause a child to bottom out more then feeling frustrated and that the work is too hard. Have high expectations for the your child, but have realistic goals and expectations. Not every child will be great in every subject. Just let the child know that hard work and putting in the time will make a difference.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Schools That Work

An article from "Education World", writes about how many critics of education talk about failing and struggling schools and include reasons why they can't be successful. Education writer, Karin Chenoweth, set out to find schools that are doing well despite challenges of educating poor and bilingual students with limited resources and funding.

During two years of research, Chenoweth identified 15 schools representing a mixture of grade levels in urban, rural, and suburban settings. These schools showed remarkable success and the students were not spending endless hours on reading and math drills. These effective schools had high expectations for everyone including the principals, parents, students, teachers, and community partners. These schools are profiled in her book, "It's Being Done: Academic Success In Unexpected Schools".

We must all strive to have effective school in our community. It is possible because there are effective schools all over this country in every state, county, town, and urban area. We must find the successful schools and programs that are most like our schools and duplicate their efforts. Therefore, every child in this country and around the world could receive the "Best Education Possible".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Effective Schools #10 - Integration of Technology Into Teaching and Learning

Effective Schools Point #10

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective schools has an integration of technology into teaching and learning. This will allow all students access and analyze information, communicate ideas, and express themselves creatively. Teachers have adequate equipment and professional training in using the latest technology to implement technology enhanced lessons.

Questions to ask or things to do:

1. How many computers are available at your child's school? Is there a computer lab or are the computers in the classroom?

2. Are there computer objectives for each grade level? Ask the principal or your child's teacher. Find out what the objectives are and can you work with these objectives at home?

3. What other technology is available to teachers and students? The teachers or principal should be able to answer this question.

4. If you have business connections or can write grants, speak to the principal about trying to get more technology in the school. Ask the technology specialist or principal about the technology needs. The world is interconnected through technology and it is extremely important that our children can operate the latest technology to keep up with future employment and global communications.
5. If it is possible, get your child a laptop for home or see if the school allows computers to be checked out overnight or summer break. If you already have a home computer, make sure you are aware of the sites your child visits. Either block unwanted sites or work on the computer together. Make your child aware of the dangers of visiting certain websites or putting personal information on social sites. These things can come back to haunt them in years to come.
To learn more about effective school visit .

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Effective Schools #9 - Student Voice and Participation

Effective School Point #9

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective school ensures that students have a significant opportunities to work together with school staff, exercise leadership, and make choices and decisions. Student have a clear area of input and can actively get involved in decisions regarding classrooms, school, campus, and community.

Effective school will have a Student Government Association (SGA) where elections are held for officers. This gives students the opportunity to share ideas, make speeches, campaign, and vote in a democratic election. This give students the opportunity to show leadership and get involved in making a difference in their education to make sure all students get the "Best Education Possible".

Questions to ask or things to do:

1. Does your child's school have an active SGA? If not, talk to the administration and see if one can be established.

2. A good way for students to get involved with decision making and community involvement is "Serve Learning". This is a wonderful way teachers can meet academic objectives while students perform a needed service to the community, state, country, or worldwide. Google service learning to learn more about this wonderful learning opportunity.

3. Does your child have opportunities to interface with the principal, school board members, teachers, or other adults to discuss ideas and concerns? These usually will happen if there is a SGA or student organization at the school. Encourage your child to participate in these types of organizations at least once or twice.

4. Does the school give out surveys to students to find out their opinions and suggestions. If not, have the SGA or a group of student leaders go the the administration and get one started.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Effective Schools #8 - Parent and Caregiver Partnership

Effective Schools Point #8

According to New Visions for Public Schools effective schools has an ongoing process that includes families into the life of the school in a variety of ways. The parents and caregivers have a voice and capabilities to help shape all parts of the school. The school trust that including the students' families it will be a positive partnership and influence for achieving success for every child.

Every effective school has an active Parent and Teacher Association or Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTA or PTSA). These organization has the ability to plan with the principal and other leadership at the school to make instructional differences and financial contributions. Make sure you are a member of the PTA or PTSA and know the officers. This organization is mission is to make sure every child receives the "Best Education Possible".

Questions to ask and things to do:

1. Does your child's school have an effective PTA or PTSA? If not check with the school system's PTA or state PTA and find out what are the requirements to start one at your school.
2. Meet with the building principal and your child's teacher. Let them know any important information about your child that will make a difference in learning or socializing.
3. In just about every organization there is a negative element of dis-satisfied people. The schools can have that same element. Do not associate yourself with such groups. It will bring you down and nothing can be accomplished most of the time with negative groups. The relationship with school and parents should strive to be a positive partnership.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Effective Schools #7 - Partnerships with Community Organizations

Effective Schools Point#7

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective community partnerships serves the academic and developmental need of its students. The partnerships help keep the school in touch with the wider community and professional network. There are also opportunities and resources that support student success and will help every child "Get the Best Education Possible".

If you or someone you know has connections in the community business, ask them to support or adopt your child's school. Businesses can send mentors, supplies, technical support, and monetary support. It is tax deductible to contribute to most educational institutions. Make sure you school stays in contact with your local congressmen and government representatives and let them know the needs of the school. Your school board representative should also be familar with the needs and accomplishment of the school. All of this is important because the community needs to know the wonderful things going on at your school.

Questions to ask and things to do:

1. If you are having a special event, invite the superientendent, school board members, and any other local businesses to participate and enjoy the event.

2. If there are needs at the school, go to local businesses, civic groups, places of worship, and let them know your needs.

3. Get a group of parents and students that are interested in approaching community partners and let them work toward getting them involved with the schools yearly goals.

4. Let the children lead out in approaching local businesses and community leaders because it is very hard for most people to say "no" to children. Make sure they are well prepared for the meeting and can speak intelligenily about the school's request for partnership or assistance.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Effective Schools #6 - Meaningful Assessment/Testing

Effective School Point #6

According to New Visions for Public Schools it is a fact that students are tested to determine how much knowledge they have retained and how well a school or system is performing. Affective schools will assess or test students in different ways to show they mastered certain objectives. Teachers should use test results to help plan future lessons and when to reteach concepts students have not mastered. Assessment should help teachers meet the needs of all children, by moving children forward or reteach and review for students who do not understand a concept. Certain assessments are necessary to make sure every child receives the "Best Education Possible".

Parents should ask questions about how to read the standardized test result, so they truly understand exactly the strengths and weaknesses of their child. Make sure you go over your child's mid-term report because this is the half way point of the grading period. This way you know what needs to be done in order for your child needs to do to improve or maintain current grades.

Questions and things to do:

1. Does your child get to do projects or presentations for a grade? Every child learns differently and not all children take paper and pencil or computerized test very well. With a project, usually students have a choice and can pick a topic of interest.

2. Do you know what your child is doing in each subject. This is usually more of a concern from second or third grade where the teacher will give mid-term reports. Make sure you check all papers and make an appointment with the teachers if papers suddenly stop coming home.

3. Standardized test scores will tell you a lot about your child's knowledge and progress compared to other children the same age. Ask the teacher to interpret the test because the report sent home can be confusing.

4. If your child does not take standardized test well, have them take a testing skills class or ask the teacher some things you can do to help your child improve on test taking. Sometimes the child is just nervous and needs to calm down before starting.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Effective Schools #5 - School Based Professional Development

Effective Schools Point #5

According to New Visions for Public School a school based professional development program is when educators are working together to improve instruction and student achievement within the school environment. Effective professional learning communities have training at the school and continuously share lessons, ideas, and best classroom practices. The teachers come together regularly to plan lessons and everyone is in agreement to share lessons and materials. They also agree to help each other to have the best classroom practices so every child receives the "Best Education Possible".

Parents if you have you have any skills, materials, resources, or connections, meet with the principal and offer what assistance you can make. It is every ones' responsibility to make the school meet their goals and that every child gets, "The Best Education Possible".

Questions and things to do:

1. Are there instructional aides to help teachers assess students, assist with at-risk students, and help teacher planning? This would be positions such as reading coaches, reading specialist, and curriculum specialist. These professional are responsible for training the teachers in research based learning methods that help all students. They are usually based at the school, so there is an ongoing aid to the classroom teachers and they make sure the training is being implemented in the classrooms.

2. Is there a group of educators including the principal that continuously looks at student assessment and daily work that decide on appropriate changes to individual instruction to assure student success? This is simply a group of teachers and the principal that will meet and discuss at-risk students and come up with a plan to help every student meet with success.

3. Teachers should share ideas, materials, and lesson, so all children are getting a quality education. They truly learn from one another and challenge each other to be better. Parents, you should always support good teachers and show them how much you appreciate the hard work that it takes to have a successful classroom. Teachers work extremely hard to make sure your child gets a quality education. Show them in any way you can.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Effective Schools #4 - A Personalized Learning Environment

Effective Schools Point#4

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective school has knowledge of each student learning style, social and family conditions, strengths, aspirations, and needs. Each student enjoys strong relationships with other students and a close continuous relationship with one or more adults in the school environment. This relationship should be supported throughout the high school years to prepare for higher education, employment, or other productive future plans to get the "Best Education Possible".

Parents and students should know their learning style. It is so important because that is the way the child will remember information. There are three basic learning styles and usually on learning style will be more dominate:

1. The Visual Learner- This child learns best by seeing and reading the information
2. The Auditory Learner- This child learns best by hearing the information
3. Body Kinesthetic Learner- This child learns best by moving or manipulating information.

To read more about learning styles go to my blog and read the series I did on learning styles.

Questions and Things to Do:
1. Do you know your child's learning style? If not, I have a series of blogs about learning styles. Read the series and you should be able to determine your child's learning style. Perhaps your child's teacher has already figured out the learning style. This will be truly helpful throughout your child's educational and employment experiences. The learning style is how a you learn and retain information best.
2. It is really important for the school to know as much personal information about your child as possible or as you feel comfortable in revealing. This is because the principal and teachers will know how to handle certain or sensitive areas. If you want to tell the principal or teacher things in confidence, the school should always handle those situations professionally.
3. There should be a mentoring program at the school. This is where an adult will get involved with helping the student improve in academic or social matters. Hopefully, the relationship will continue throughout high school. Many times there are missing parents or single parent households and there needs to be additional influences in a child's life. Sometimes it is just good to have someone else involved in helping with the development of a child.
4. Every child should feel apart of the school family and there should be someone they can go to that they feel comfortable talking with. The guidance counselor is usually a person students will go to, but sometimes it will be a favorite teacher or older student. Hopefully, there are positive role models and concerned adults helping all children having difficulty.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Effective Schools #3 - Instructional Leadership

Effective School Point #3

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective school has a principal who leads the instructional program and expects excellence from the staff, parents, and students. It has a school wide focus on student achievement; support for improving the school environment, teaching and learning; and effective cooperation among school leaders, teachers, parents, students, and partners in the community. The principal and other school leaders inspire commitment from everyone to fulfill the vision of the school among all members of the school community so every child receives the "Best Education Possible".

Parents make sure you teach your child to be respectful of persons in authority. First make sure they respect and listen to you. Then they need to understand how to approach, respond, and listen to other adults. It will make life easier for you and your child throughout life if this lesson is mastered before entering school. There is no way a child will be respectful if the parent does not model respect. Speak positively in front of your children about the school, principal, and teachers. Then the child will model that positive behavior.

Questions or Things to Do:

1. Is there an "Open Door" policy at your child's school? An example would be that parents are welcome to come to the school and volunteer, make appointments to meet with the principal or teachers, and feel comfortable to make suggestions. It is important for parents to understand that they are at the school to be a positive partner. Make sure you make appointments and never get in a group of parents that are not trying to make positive change.

2. Do you feel a sense of control and calm when you first enter the building. The building should be clean and pleasant. Quality student work should be displayed and the atmosphere should be pleasant with a sense of control.

3. Is the principal visible and involved with the students. It is nice to see students speak, shake the hand, or converse with the principal. Make sure your child is respectful and knows how to talk to adults. It will make all the difference in the school experience if the child is controlled and respectful.

4. Can the principal discuss the curriculum and is well aware of student achievement and assessment data? This is important because the principal should drive the curriculum and be knowledgeable of what is going on in each classroom. The principal will know what should be the next objectives for improvement of the overall school goals.

5. Does the principal communicate well with parents, teachers, staff, and students. An effective principal can communicate and inspire everyone to reach school-wide goals.

6. Does the principal participate in after-school functions and support all school programs? The principal should be visible at as many sports, academic competitions, plays, PTA meetings, board meetings, and fundraisers.

7. The principal must have a vision for where the school is heading, and is able to get teachers, staff, parents, students, and community partners to buy into the vision and is the driving force in making that vision a reality. They must be able to lead, listen, influence, and implement an aggressive curriculum, and has high expectations for everyone. They must be able to take assessment data and lead their staff in the direction of improvement and make sure every child's needs are being met. The principal is the leader of the school and should be respected.

For more information on effective school go to

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Effective Schools #2- Stimulating and Secure Learning Environment

Effective Schools Point #2

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective school has a challenging instructional program that provides equal opportunities to learn and empowers every student to receive the "Best Education Possible". The curriculum keeps the students' interest and enable them to stretch their imaginations and creativity. The entire school community meets individual student needs, and addresses any instructional challenges for advancement or remediation. All students are important and should feel safe in asking questions and in a learning environment. Does your child's school meet these criteria?

Questions to Ask or Things to Do:

1. Does your child have choices when doing a project? This will keep a child excited about completing and doing his/her best work. Choices give a child a sense of empowerment in a school setting.

2. Does your child get a chance to work ahead or go back and review if it is needed. Advanced students must be challenged and struggling students must go back in order to master needed skills.

3. Does your child talk about what they learned in school? If not, ask your child while driving home or at dinner. Try to sit down at the kitchen table and eat dinner together every evening. It is a good way to keep communication open. It is not unusual for children to say they didn't learn anything at school, but when the curriculum is interesting and challenging many students will want to talk about what they learned.

4. Does your child feel comfortable in asking questions or asking for help? This means at school and home. So many times students feel like they are not smart if they ask questions. Make sure you let your child know it is alright to ask questions or don't know all the answers. Encourage them to question within reason.

5. Do the children at your child's school work on group projects and work in cooperative learning groups? This teaches children to work with other peers and how to contribute and communicate in a group setting. Employers are looking for people who are team players. Too many people are unable to share ideas and work for the advancement of the team.

6. Does the school have individual or small group instruction, so every child's needs are met? Gifted children will become bored or restless if they are not challenged and struggling children will become frustrated or a behavior problem if they don't understand instruction.

To read more on effective schools go to .

Monday, January 4, 2010

Effective Schools #1 - High Expectations of All Learners

Effective Schools Point #1

According to New Visions for Public Schools an effective school has a clear focus and high expectations of their staff, parents as well as their students. Effective schools motivate and engage the entire school community and inspire their members to strive constantly to ensure the success of every student. In effective schools there is a clear focus. Further, the school has high expectations coupled with an action plan for achieving excellence for every student and the belief that every student can learn. Does your child's school meet these criteria so that your child is getting the "Best Education Possible"?

Questions to Ask or Things to Do:

1. Are the principal, teachers, parents, and community partners working closely together to make the school successful? An example would be is there an active Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and the officers should meet with the administration to assist with the overall school program and goals?

2. Encourage your child to go to school with a purpose of learning and try to keep them excited about learning by checking papers, checking homework, and praising accomplishments.

3. Try to make sure your child feels successful in and out of the classroom. Have you child involved in after school activities such as sports, dance programs, art or singing lessons, or academic team competitions.

5. Are there programs and curriculum in place for advanced learners at your school, and is your child being challenged?

6. Are there tutoring and other programs in place for students having difficulties in learning? Check with local churches, Girls and Boys Clubs, civic organizations, and some college students tutor for service learning credits.

7. If your child is having academic difficulty, is there a group of professionals at school diagnosing and working to help that child? (And are you working with your child to help them keep up with the the class at home?)

8. Have you gone to teacher conferences to know your child progress academically? And are you working with the teacher to make sure your child is successful and truly understand what you should be focusing on?

9. Does the teacher make suggestions as to what you could be doing at home, and is the plan being followed?

10. Can your child do most of the homework independently and complete it in a timely manner? If not talk to the teacher to find out exactly why the homework is taking so much time and see what can be worked out. (In my opinion, homework should take 30-60 minutes, increased or decreased based on the student's performance behind or ahead of their class.)

11. Is there good communications between home and school through newsletters, emails, telephone calls, and visits? (there should be weekly communication of expectations of your child and a mid term progress reports /meeting as to the progress and grade the student is getting at midpoint).

12. Do you feel good about your child's academic progress? If not, partner with the teachers to learn what you can do to help and what your child needs to do to be accountable.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Effective Schools

According to New Visions for Public Schools in order for your children to get the "Best Education Possible", they must attend effective schools. In my next ten posts, I will breakdown and define what an effective school should resemble. With each post, there will be a list of questions/suggestions to help you determine your school's performance and your place in improving it. This is extremely important because our children must receive the best from their educational experiences, which will determine their future in this global economy.
The one thing I want every parent to understand is that they are the most important influence in their child's life. Therefore, you must be a positive partner with the schools and work together to see that your child is meeting all academic benchmarks. The school administration and teachers are there to educate and assist in developing your child academically and socially. You are there to make sure your child respects you, adults, peers, and themselves and values an education.

Below are the ten post for Effective Schools: All of the ten topics will fit into one or more of the eight effective schools chart to the left.

Day 1 - Clear focus and high expectations for everyone at the school

Day 2 - A challenging academic program for all children

Day 3 - Principal as an instructional leader

Day 4 - An individualized learning program for all children

Day 5 - School-based professional training for teachers

Day 6 - Meaningful assessment/testing

Day 7 - Partnerships with community organizations

Day 8 - Parent and caregiver involvement

Day 9 - Student voice and participation

Day 10 - Integration of technology into teaching and learning
To read more about effective schools go to .

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Life Filled With Purpose

Dear Friends,

I have a New Year's Resolution of living my life filled with purpose in making sure our children "Get the Best Education Possible". I plan to blog every day, looking for interesting, useful, and informative articles and research, and sharing them with you. I hope each day will bring you things you can implement into your family to make them healthier, happier, and informed. I want it to primarily be education based with tips on health and family. It is my prayer that 2010 will be a time to help parents, "Get the Best Education Possible" for their child and every child in their reach.

If you have topic ideas or educational questions you would like answered, please leave me a note. It is my privilege and pleasure to serve you this year and I pray that everyone who follows my blog will be blessed. Thank you for your support in 2009 and I look forward to serving you all around the world. This is how I plan to fulfill my New Year's Resolution of living my life filled with purpose.

Sincerely yours in education,

Debra West

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 - Get Your Child "The Best Education Possible"

Wishing you a BLESSED NEW YEAR!!!

From: Best Education Possible, LLC

In 2010 make sure your child is getting the best education possible!!

To know how just order my handbook/workbook at

About This Blog

This weblog seeks primarily to be a resource to parents and their children facilitating, "Empowerment & Personal Responsibility through Education."

This weblog is an extension of BestEducationPossible-theCommunity an online community dedicated to Parents and their efforts to empower their children through Education.

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