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eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for July 2024

Challenge your child to some grocery games

The next time you go food shopping with your child, play some grocery games. Ask a young child to name things that are round or red or square. Challenge an older child to grocery math: If one can costs 64 cents, how much will two cans cost? How much change will be left from two dollars? Offer a reward by letting your "contestant" choose a favorite fruit to add to your shopping cart.

Send a positive message for the day

Each morning before breakfast, put a note at your child's place at the table. In it, you can compliment your child on a job well done or express confidence in your child's ability to handle a challenge. A note could remind your child about plans for the afternoon or even refer to a current event. Write in colored markers on bright paper for eye appeal. Then, encourage your child to write back!

Reduce the volume with a whisper

Did you ever try to yell louder than a room full of active kids? Odds are, you can't! Instead, when your children's noise level rises too high, speak softly or even whisper. Since no one likes to miss a secret, children will usually quiet down to hear what you have to say. And you'll be showing your kids another way to control their own behavior.

Use songs to spark interest in geography

Many great songs mention specific places. When you sing a song like "This Land Is Your Land" or "Take Me Home, Country Roads" with your child, talk about the places in it. Look them up on a map. Other songs feature landmarks. "London Bridge" was a real bridge in London which was later sold and moved. Help your child research where it is now (Arizona). Pass time on your next drive by singing as many geography songs as you can.

Surround your child with the sounds of another language

The two best ways to learn a foreign language are to speak it and hear it spoken. If your child is learning a foreign language, check out audiobooks in the language from the library and play them at home. Look for a TV channel in that language, or search online for videos and watch together for a few minutes a day. To encourage speaking the language, ask your child to teach you a new word or two every day.

Connect consequences to actions, naturally and logically

In order to take responsibility for their actions, children must learn that actions have consequences. Sometimes the consequences are natural; for example, the consequence of not studying is failing a test. At other times, families must impose a consequence that connects logically to the action, like requiring a child to do chores to earn money to help replace a lost library book. Experiencing consequences helps your child learn to make better choices in the future.

There's a lot for your child to read in the kitchen

Use the contents of your kitchen cabinets to help build your child's reading skills. Ask your child to look for letters of the alphabet or words on boxes or cans of food. For example, as your child is spreading jam, ask, "Can you show me five A's on the jar?" Start with capital letters then move to lowercase letters and then words. How many cans in your cupboard contain items beginning with B?

Teach your child this process for making wise decisions

Whether your child is deciding which shirt to wear or whether or not to go along with the crowd, four steps will lead to wise choices. Have your child: 1. Stop and name the decision to be made. 2. Identify all the possible options. Sometimes kids think there are only two choices when there are many more. 3. Consider the consequences of each option. 4. Take your family's values into consideration.

Positive expectations provide motivation

The truth is, children usually do what their families expect of them. That's why having high expectations for your child is so important. Research shows that families' high expectations can motivate students to do well in school. On the other hand, when families say things like "You'll never amount to anything," the children are likely to do that, too. Make it clear you are counting on seeing your child's best effort to learn, think, behave and be kind.

Start preventing substance abuse today

Families of elementary schoolers sometimes think they don't have to worry yet about preventing drug and alcohol abuse. But actions you can take now will help protect your child. Discuss the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and establish firm family rules about their use. Help your child set and work toward personal goals and feel confident about learning and proud of progress. And always know where your child is and with whom.

Showcase your child's skill at a family gathering

Every child needs to feel capable and appreciated. Family gatherings on holidays such as the 4th of July are great occasions to boost your child's sense of accomplishment. If your elementary schooler is learning to cook, serve a dish you have made together. If your child is learning to read, make some time for reading to a family member. Asking your child to demonstrate a new skill shows that you value what your child is learning.

Pack some learning into travel planning

Do your family's summer plans include travel? Add some learning by including your elementary schooler in the planning. You can ask your student to research things you might see on your trip. Or, give your child a map and a highlighter to mark the route you travel each day. Keep math facts fresh by having your child calculate the distance in miles. Then, let your child choose an audiobook that your family can listen to in the car.

A secret code can pique your child's interest in reading

Give your child the key to this secret code and get set for a summer of secret message fun. Assign each letter of the alphabet a consecutive number. A is 1, B is 2, C is 3 and so on. Then, write a message in number code and ask your child to respond. What will your elementary schooler say about this idea? Probably something like "20-8-9-19 9-19 6-21-14! (This is fun!)"

Stretch your child's grasp of math with a geoboard

Geoboards can help kids learn basic geometry. You can download a geoboard app for your child, or make a simple geoboard at home. On a 12-inch square piece of wood, hammer 10 rows of 10 nails one inch apart (use graph paper as a guide). Next, put out a variety of rubber bands in different sizes. Now, have your child stretch them around the nails to answer questions, such as: Can you make a triangle? How many triangles can you make? What is the largest square you can make?

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for June 2024

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Remember the funny side of discipline

Discipline is serious business, but that doesn't mean you can't have a sense of humor about it. Humor can diffuse a tense situation, motivate children to act appropriately, and even help them see the error of their ways. For example, instead of sending your foot-stamping, cookie-demanding first grader to time-out, join the protest. Stamp and demand every sweet possible. Your child may be too distracted to keep up a tantrum.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Put your child's personality on a poster

Creating an "all about me" poster together is a great way to celebrate what makes your child special. It's also a fun way to learn more about your elementary schooler. Look through magazines and catalogs together for pictures of activities your family has done. Also look for images of things your child likes, like pets, foods and clothes. Have your child arrange and paste the pictures on a large sheet of paper. Then, encourage your student to write a few words about each.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Look for opportunities to encourage conversation

Meaningful conversations with your child are hard to schedule; they happen when they happen. But there are things you can do to encourage them. Many children prefer to talk while they are doing other things. Find the time when your child is most likely to open up: while walking the dog, for example. Use this time for conversation. To keep it going, ask your child follow-up questions, like "What happened next?"

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Inspire your child with real-life superheroes

Being a positive role model for your elementary schooler is important. But don't stop there. Create a gallery of heroes for your child. Find pictures and stories of real people who have overcome great odds, starting with people in your family. Did someone persist in the face of obstacles, or give up a lot so you could get an education? Talk with your child about these heroes and what you both can learn from their example.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Make learning part of the fun this summer

To combine learning and fun this summer, try having a family spelling bee (give each family member words that are appropriate for their skills). Or, add math to a family outing (How many miles until we get there? How much gas will we need? How many steps to climb the hill?). Ask questions about things you see in nature and try to find the answers together. You can also tell family stories that connect history to your child's life.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

You don't have to give your child everything

Families who give their children everything they ask for often create unintended problems. Their children eventually feel entitled. In school, they may feel they "deserve" top grades without putting in the work. Offer your child unlimited love, but not unlimited gifts. Insist that your student live up to responsibilities at home and at school, and put in effort. You'll be teaching your child to thrive and succeed.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Turn unfortunate viewing into a positive lesson

It happens. Despite your best efforts to avoid it, your child watches a show that uses rudeness and bad behavior as humor. To redeem the situation, turn it into a learning opportunity. Point out the objectionable scene. "That boy sure made a rude remark to his mother." Ask how your child would handle it differently. "If you were as angry as he was, how could you express your feelings without being rude or hurtful?"

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Hang a brag line to celebrate and motivate

Showing that you are proud of your child's hard work is an effective way to encourage your student to keep it up. One way to do this is by displaying your child's best writing, most-improved schoolwork and most creative art on a "brag line." String a long piece of yarn up against a wall from one end of the room to the other. Attach your child's work with clothespins or tape and start bragging!

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Promote learning on local field trips

You don't have to travel far to find interesting places where your child can learn. Check out a local shopping center, and have your child calculate the percentage of stores that sell food. At a garden center, learn about different varieties of evergreen trees. Or, pick up the nutrition information brochure from a fast-food restaurant, and use it to teach your child to make healthy food choices.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Help your child be an active reader

To develop a love of reading, help your child get actively involved with the reading material. One way is to ask why your child thinks the characters act the way they do. Why would a spider like Charlotte want to help a pig like Wilbur? You can also ask about how a book is or isn't like your child's own life. Has your elementary schooler ever felt like one of the characters does? Would your child handle a situation differently?

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Experiment with the concept of floating

Try an experiment at home to help your child understand why a large boat can float. Cut two pieces of aluminum foil the same size. Squeeze one into a dense little ball. Help your child shape the other piece into a small boat. Put them both in water. What happens? Explain that the ball sinks because it is denser than the amount of water it moves aside. The boat shape, filled with air, is less dense than the water it displaces, so it floats!

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Improve word skills with dictionary brainteasers

Here's a fun word game that will build your child's dictionary skills. Get out a dictionary (or help your child use one online). Then, challenge your child to use it to answer these questions: Do anvils come in vanilla? Can you bustle, hustle and jostle at the same time? How much bread is in a breadfruit? Can you abandon an abalone? Now it's your child's turn to use the dictionary to think up some questions for you!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Encourage your child to appreciate others

Children are naturally self-centered. But their families can help them learn to cooperate and work with others. The first step is to help your child appreciate other people. Encourage your student to compliment at least one person every day. Suggest being on the lookout for good things friends, relatives and classmates do. Then your child's praise will be genuine. Do this yourself, too. Each day, talk together about the compliments you gave.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Love and respect support student success

The ways parents behave with their children make a big difference in how the children feel about themselves. Say "I love you" directly and often to your child. Also, always treat your child with the same courtesy you would like your child to show to you and others. Above all, listen when your child talks about personal interests. You'll show that what your child says matters to you.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Help your child find out about careers of interest

Elementary school is not too early for children to begin learning about careers. To help your child explore the possibilities, ask questions that encourage thinking and dreaming about the future. What kind of a life would your child like to have? What kinds of activities does your child like in school that might be fun to do on the job? Also, discuss the jobs held by people your family knows. If something seems interesting, see if your child can talk to that person about their work.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Send your child on a reading scavenger hunt

Encourage reading by challenging your child to a scavenger hunt in your own living room. Set your child up with a newspaper (in print or online), and a list of things to find things in it. These might include: A picture of a person running for office. The time a movie will show at a nearby theater. A map of your state. The score of a baseball game. The name of a store having a sale. The price of sugar at your local market.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Show your child the science in your home

Your home is a wonderful science lab for your child. To promote scientific thinking, use a magnifying glass to view household items. What looks different and what looks similar with and without the glass? You can also ask questions and help your child look for answers: Which cereals get soggy in milk? You can even conduct some experiments: Will bread get moldy faster in a baggie in the refrigerator or in a baggie on the counter?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Chores are rewarding, but should they be rewarded?

Chores at home teach children many things that can help them in school, from time management to responsibility. But should you pay your child for doing chores? For everyday tasks, probably not. Kids should make their own contributions to keeping the family and home running smoothly. For big or extra jobs, consider assigning points that your child can accumulate and cash in for rewards.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Give your child reasons to be optimistic

Research shows that there are benefits to optimism, including better school performance. To help your child see that life isn’t all bad, solve problems together. If your child is worried about doing poorly in a subject, for example, help brainstorm actions your child can take to improve. If you hear "I messed up. I can't do this," foster an attitude adjustment by having your child say "I made a mistake. I can learn from it."

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Fill the day with pattern play

Pattern recognition is an important math skill. Try some of these activities to help your child practice it: See how many patterns you can create together using only knives, forks and spoons. Or, help your child learn about the phases of the moon. How long does each phase last, and how long it is from full moon to full moon? Or, take a family nature walk. Collect leaves, rocks and other natural items to use to make patterns.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Make a game of following directions

Here's a game to play that builds your child's ability to follow directions: Hide a small prize, such as a coin. Then, tell your child all the directions necessary to find it. Before hunting, have your child repeat the directions, then picture following each step. Start by giving only two or three directions. Increase the complexity of the directions as your child improves.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Perseverance is hard work. But your child's effort to develop the habit now will help in school. Teach your elementary schooler that "You're never a failure until you give up." Talk about a time when you wanted to give up, but didn't, and overcame an obstacle. Then, have some fun: Set out a jigsaw puzzle to do together, and don't quit until the last piece is in!

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Sometimes conversations with children can be frustrating. "What did you do in class today?" you ask. "Nothing," your child replies. Don't give up! Try asking more specific questions, such as "What was the best part of your day?" or "What are you learning about in science?" Sometimes it works just to say, "What do you want to talk about?" You might be surprised by your child's answer!

Friday, June 07, 2024

It's great to have high expectations for your child. But it’s also important that your expectations be realistic. When setting expectations, consider questions such as: Why do I have this expectation? Where did it come from? What purpose does it serve? Is it based on my child's needs, or mine? Is it appropriate for a child this age? Consult with the teacher if you are in doubt. Then, cheer your child on!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

It's important that students learn to take responsibility for their own schoolwork. When they do, they learn not only the subject matter, but also important life lessons such as initiative, time management and perseverance. Let your child learn these lessons from experience. Don't take over the responsibility for your child’s assignments. Your elementary schooler may make a few mistakes, but those teach lessons, too.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Word games are a great way to pass time and build children's thinking and reading skills in the car. And you don't need any supplies! Ask your child to spot objects that begin with each letter of the alphabet, in order. Or, take turns naming a word that begins with the last sound of the previous word (cat-toy-oyster). You can also start with a short word and take turns changing one letter to make a new word (cat-bat-bad-bed).

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Something that is "quality" has value. But it isn't necessarily rare. Quality time, for example, just means putting extra effort into the time you have with your child. To make quality time an everyday event, offer your child your undivided attention frequently, even if just for a minute or two. Include your child in your household tasks. And allow time every day for fun, laughter and enjoying each other.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Learning to manage money gives your child math practice and a lesson in financial responsibility. Help your student learn to keep a record of money received and spent. Also, when you pay bills, talk with your child about your family's priorities, and how they are reflected in your finances. Ask your elementary schooler to suggest future priorities and ways your family could save for them.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

When your child outgrows some clothing, it needs to be replaced. Children can also outgrow the limits families set for them. That's why it's important to check regularly to see whether your rules still "fit." Remember that if you relax a boundary and your child doesn't respond well, you can always return to the way things were and try again in a few months.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

It takes only seconds to give a compliment, while a complaint often takes a minute or more. To encourage good behavior and build your child's confidence, flip the balance and spend more time on compliments than complaints. Say what you don't like about your child's actions quickly. When you see positive behavior, offer plenty of specific praise. You'll spend less time on discipline and more on motivating your child.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for May 2024

Friday, May 31, 2024

Have you seen these signs of reading struggle?

When children encounter unfamiliar words while reading, many squirm, get sleepy, look anxious or act up. If you see any of these signs, ask if there's a word your child doesn't understand. Help your child look it up in the dictionary. Then, check for understanding by asking your elementary schooler to use the word in a sentence. If your child claims to know all the words, do some spot checks. Ask, "What does this word mean?"

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Help your child learn a lot in a few minutes

What can you do promote learning in a few spare minutes? Teachers recommend several things: Teach values by reading a story that has moral dilemmas and discuss why actions are right or wrong. Or, you could tell your child a story filled with information about the real world. Another option is to ask to hear about something your child finds interesting and look for ways to relate the topic to things your child is learning.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Be a model of patience for your child

Children aren't born with a lot of patience and self-control. They need to learn these qualities. But if you are always fussing about slow drivers or saying "Hurry up!" to your child, it will be hard for your child to learn patience from you. Model the behavior you want your elementary schooler to show. Remember, your child may try your patience, but losing your cool only teaches impatience.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Help your child feel accepted, confident and purposeful

Feeling confident and capable helps children cope with challenges. To nurture this kind of self-esteem in your child, say "I love you" all the time, not just when your student is successful. Emphasize your child's strengths and point out progress. Instill a sense of purpose by helping your child set attainable goals. Then, help your child see that difficulties can be overcome. Say often that you believe in your child's ability to succeed.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Help your child put gratitude in writing

Thank-you notes are more than just good writing practice. Expressing gratitude can also boost your child's spirits and appreciation for other people. Set an example for your child. When you thank someone, talk about how good gratitude feels. Then, help your child brainstorm reasons to thank people. Your student could write notes to thank a teacher for help, or to a classmate for being a good friend.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Plan to give summer days some structure

Kids love to relax in the summer. But they still need some structure to their day. Otherwise, they may spend hour after hour passively watching screens and never get around to activities that help them learn. Draw up a basic summer schedule for your child. Include large blocks of time for creative play. Build in time for reading and chores. And although you may relax rules on bedtime, don't give them up altogether.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Correct behavior in a loving way

How you say things to your child is just as important as what you say. Children thrive on their families' positive attitudes toward them. So, the next time you have to correct your child's behavior, take a minute to think before you talk. Phrase your comment in a way that makes it clear you think your child is great, but that the rules still apply.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Encourage your child to wonder and observe

Children are natural scientists. Every time they ask "Why?" or wonder how things work, they're asking a scientific question. Encourage your child to observe, ask questions and look for answers. Together, you could see how long it takes for a rosebud to burst into bloom. Or, record the changes in the moon's shape over a month's time. Can your child figure out how the spin cycle removes wash water from your clothes?

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Create a space that makes your child want to read

Children get more excited about reading when they have their own books and a special place to read them. Help your child create a personal book nook by providing a bookcase, or a shelf of your child’s own in a family bookcase. Put pillows or a comfortable chair in a cozy corner nearby. One inexpensive way to provide reading material is to make scrapbooks of articles on topics that interest your child. Encourage your elementary schooler to sort and arrange books in the book nook.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Children usually live up to families' expectations

Families communicate expectations to children in many ways: by what they say, how they act and how they react to others. Think about what you expect of your child in terms of effort on schoolwork, time spent reading, behavior in class, and how far your student should go in school. Set your expectations high, and express them to your child clearly and consistently.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Apply the lessons of music to schoolwork

Kids who study a musical instrument learn more than how to play a tune. They also learn lessons like the value of practice and persistence. No one is born knowing how to play an instrument. But by sticking with it and practicing regularly, kids soon make music. This experience carries over to other subjects. Students who work hard and study every day can master material. And that makes teachers and families sing!

Monday, May 20, 2024

Change the course of repetitive play

Many adults have a common complaint: "My child always wants to play the same thing!" To introduce new elements into pretend play, change the story. For example, if your child always buys cereal when playing store, introduce a challenge. Say, "Sorry, all out of cereal." If your child needs help solving the problem, offer two suggestions to choose from, "How about bagels or muffins instead?"

Sunday, May 19, 2024

What says 'love' to your child?

Parents and caregivers have innumerable ways of showing children they love them. But those ways are generally ones the adults think are important to their kids. To find out what your child really treasures, ask: "How did I show you I love you today?" You might be surprised at the answers!

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Role-play ways to push back against peer pressure

Kids need to fit in. But they also need to know that there are times when they can't go along with the crowd. With your child, role-play ways to say "no" to things that are unsafe, illegal or against your family’s rules. These include making an excuse, "I can't. My mom needs me at home" and offering a better idea, "Why don't we ride bikes instead?" Your child could even blame you. "My folks would ground me forever!"

Friday, May 17, 2024

Build priceless skills with a word-value game

Here's a fun game that uses language and math skills. Assign each letter of the alphabet a monetary value: A is one cent, B is two cents, etc. Next, ask your child to figure out the value of each family member's name. Whose name is worth the most? Have fun figuring out the values of other words, too. Which is worth more, gold or silver? What is the shortest word your child can think of that is worth the most?

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Discuss things that are going right

One way to help children become more self-assured is to shift attention from their shortcomings to their strengths. To direct your child's focus to things that are going well, ask questions such as, "What is something you like about yourself?" "What is something you did that you felt good about today?" "What is something that you enjoyed learning today?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Help your child see things from a different angle

Elementary schoolers are learning to analyze and see things from different points of view. To reinforce this skill, ask your child questions, such as: "What do you think land looks like to a dolphin in the water? How about to a bird flying in the air?" Recognizing that there can be more than one way to look at something is an essential reading and writing skill.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Avoid arguments that aren't worth it

Every day, adults and children have many differences of opinion, some big, some small. Children are more likely to listen to you when it counts if they aren’t constantly being corrected over tiny matters. To avoid overcorrecting, take a few minutes at the end of a typical day to recall the disagreements you had with your child. Decide which were worth the fight, such as enforcing safety rules, and which you can ignore if they crop up again.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Play a game that is the opposite of boring

"Simon Says" is a great game for teaching children to follow directions. Here's a twist that will help build your child's vocabulary and thinking skills, too: Players should do the opposite of what Simon says. When Simon says, "Whisper your mother's name," for example, your child should shout the name. Grasping the concept of opposite helps children understand antonyms (words that have opposite meanings).

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Kids who miss class are missing out

At the end of the year, it may be tempting to let your child miss school for other activities for a few days. But kids who miss class miss learning, and repeated absences can lead to problems later on. One research study found that sixth graders who missed about one day of school a week had a 75 percent chance of never making it to graduation. Help your child learn that attendance matters by making it a priority.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Leave some decisions up to your child

To learn how to make responsible decisions about important things, your child needs to practice making choices about everyday things. You might let a young child choose between wearing blue jeans or athletic pants. Let an older child choose which vegetable the family will eat for dinner. Before you make a decision for your child, consider whether your child could safely make that decision independently. If so, say, "You decide."

Friday, May 10, 2024

Help make study conditions match testing conditions

Does your child have a big test coming up? To boost recall, help your child match study conditions to the testing conditions. Chances are, there won't be music playing or a TV on during the test. So don't allow your child to study with them on, either. If your student will be taking the test at a desk, encourage studying at a desk or table instead of on a bed. If the test will be timed, have your child try setting a kitchen timer while taking a practice test.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

There are lots of 'right' books for your child

What makes a book "right" for your child? It should be well-written and designed. Most importantly, it needs to appeal to your elementary schooler. When choosing books, look for well-developed characters and strong plots on topics of interest. While most of the words should be familiar, it's OK to pick a book that is a little beyond your child's ability. You can read it aloud now, and your child can read it alone later.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Talk with your child about living up to promises

Responsible students can be counted on by their families, teachers and classmates. But promises are often easier for children to make than to keep. Talk to your child about the importance of being trustworthy. Ask your child to think about what happens when people don't do things they've said they would: Plants that don't get watered wilt, garbage that isn't taken out smells and animals who don't get fed get hungry!

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Ask the teacher about progress, problems and preparing for the future

As this school year comes to a close, you may be wondering about your child's readiness for next year. Consider scheduling an end-of-the-year parent-teacher conference. You can ask the teacher whether your child has made the progress expected, and about strengths and weaknesses. Ask how you can work together to overcome any issues, and what you can do over the summer to prepare your child for next year.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Bicycle safety is no accident

Children need exercise to stay healthy and fit to learn. But they also need to know how to exercise safely. Each year thousands of children are injured while riding bicycles. Many of these injuries are preventable. Teach your child about bike safety and make sure all family members always wear a properly-fitting helmet when riding. Then, supervise when your child rides. Until kids reach age 10, they should not ride bikes in the street.

Sunday, May 05, 2024

Help your child picture positive possibilities

Does your elementary schooler think that success is something that just happens to others? One way to change that mindset is to talk about all the good things that could possibly happen to your child. Be creative. Show that you see a bright future for child. Chances are, you'll start your child thinking about positive possibilities, too. And that's an important step toward success.

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Boost your child’s motivation to learn

To spark your child's desire to learn, be a learner yourself. Show curiosity and tackle new projects. Then, share what you learn with your child. Show an interest in what your elementary schooler is learning, too. Above all, express your confidence in your child's ability to learn, and make it clear that problems can be solved.

Friday, May 03, 2024

Strengthen skills with time outdoors

Being out in nature sharpens children's observation skills and builds creativity. Go outside with your child and allow time to quietly watch the environment. Then, ask some questions: "Can you feel where the wind is coming from?" "What's the ant doing?" To stimulate creativity, suggest making up poems, songs and stories about what your child is seeing and doing.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

There's value in putting numbers into words

Writing numbers out in word form can help your child to understand the mathematical concept of "place value." Give your child a list of four or five numbers, such as 562, 73, 184, 16 and 43. Have your elementary schooler write them in words: five hundred sixty-two, seventy-three and so on. Talk about how the words go from the highest place value to the lowest. Then, provide the words and ask your child to write the numbers.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Celebrate May holidays with learning

Memorial Day (May 27) is only one of the holidays you and your child can celebrate this month. Practice kindness to a pet during Be Kind to Animals Week (May 5-11). Write limericks on Limerick Day (May 12). Discuss cooperation, understanding and solidarity on the International Day of Living Together in Peace (May 16). Read about aviation on the anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's historic flight (May 21).

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for March 2024

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Enlarge your child's vocabulary with a few big words

Your elementary schooler’s vocabulary may be filled with short, simple words. But you don't have to speak to your child in small words. Expand vocabulary by using some "big" words occasionally. Children naturally mimic the adults around them, so to teach your child a new word, use it often. Define it. Use it in another sentence. Relate it to words your child already knows ("This book is so interesting; it's captivating!").

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Give your child a chance to be a news expert

For some students, learning about current events is a challenge. It isn't easy to read and remember so many different topics. You can help by asking each member of your family to choose a different news story to follow for three or four days. Your child can become the family expert on a topic by reading articles and watching news items. Then, at dinner, take turns sharing what you've each learned.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Take time to demonstrate character

It takes time to help your child develop an internal sense of right and wrong, but it is time well-spent. Help your elementary schooler learn to make good choices by taking advantage of teachable moments in your lives. For example, if your car door scratches another car, tell your child, "Since no one saw that, I could just drive away. But I'm going to leave a note for the car's owner. Taking responsibility is the right thing to do."

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Disagreement is no excuse for disrespect

Disagreement and division have led to violence in recent times. To teach your child that it is possible and preferable to address disagreements with respect, make it a rule at your house: "When we discuss an issue with different sides to it, we will hear all sides and, if necessary, we'll agree to disagree." In that case, your child will have to accept your authority, but children shouldn't have to change their viewpoints.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Do your part to break the bullying cycle

It's critical that families help their children deal with bullies. Children who are bullied often end up being bullies themselves. To stop the cycle: Ask the school staff what you can do to combat bullying. Discuss solutions with other families. Talk to your child, too. Boost your student’s self-confidence with a reminder of all the things you like about your child. Say that you take bullying seriously, and insist that your child tell an adult when experiencing or seeing it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Stop the self-criticism cycle from derailing your child

Some children can be very hard on themselves. They feel like failures if they aren't the "best." This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. To ward off perfectionism, set reasonable goals for your child and relax about normal mistakes. And don't brush off self-criticism. Instead, discuss it. Remind your child that no one can be perfect. Point out your elementary schooler’s strengths, and encourage the use of affirmative self-talk, such as "I'm proud of how hard I tried."

Monday, March 25, 2024

Help your child turn words into pictures

Many students struggle with a common reading problem. They can recognize the individual words in a passage, but they have trouble understanding the overall meaning. Help your elementary schooler learn to visualize. When your child reads to you, describe the images that occur in your mind. Or, help your child draw pictures or diagrams of the story's action. You could even act out the story, and have your child describe what you are doing.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Think and plan with your child before saying 'yes' to a pet

Caring for a pet can teach kids responsibility and self-discipline, but it's serious business. Before you get a pet, involve your child in thinking the decision through: What kind of pet would be best suited to your home? Your budget? Does your child have the skills and time to take care of it? What will happen to the pet when your family is at work and school? Write down what your elementary schooler will do to care for the pet and what the consequences will be if that doesn't happen.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Share smart moves for before, during and after tests

The things your child does before, during and after tests can improve academic achievement. Before the test, have your child review frequently for short periods of time when feeling most alert. During the test, your child should read the directions carefully and save time to double-check work. When your child gets the test back, review it together and discuss strengths and weaknesses. Then, have your child save the test for future studying.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Add to your child's mental math skills

Here's a way to help your child practice doing math without using pencil and paper. Start by giving four single-digit numbers for your child to add together. Pause after you say each number to allow enough time to add. When your child can do that, give four double-digit numbers, also spaced out one at a time. Next, give four numbers all at once. When your child is a pro, you can move on to giving five, six or more numbers.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Challenge your child to find words inside words

Here's a fun way to build your child's language skills: Write down a word, then have your child use its letters to make new words. For example, from the letters in the word "tadpole," your child can write the words "tea" and "ate." You can do this with holiday or seasonal words, or pick a word that matches your child's interests. How many words can your student find in "watermelon" or "rhinoceros"?

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Put the focus on learning with a hands-off approach

Sometimes, parents and caregivers help too much with children’s school projects. It can be really tempting. After all, you want your child to get good grades. But there is a better approach. Instead of thinking about grades, think about what your child can learn from doing the project independently. Ask the teacher about the best ways to support your child's efforts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Teach your child discipline with a few basic rules

Some families are afraid to discipline their children. But effective discipline isn't really about punishment. It is about teaching your child how to behave as you expect. Develop a few basic house rules and reasonable consequences for breaking them. Explain them clearly to your child. When you enforce the rules fairly and consistently, your child will learn what the limits are.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Make room at the table for a map

To have some fun teaching your child geography, get a world map and put it on your dinner table. Cover it with a sheet of clear plastic from the craft store. Now at meals your family can talk about what is happening in the world. Help your child find countries mentioned in the news. Quiz family members on countries and their capitals. You might also try a state or national map.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Praise specific behavior you want to see again

The best praise is specific. Just saying "You're wonderful," won't always make children feel good about themselves. Instead, try talking about things your child has done especially well. You might say things like, "You really stuck with that math work. I love your persistence" or "You cleaned your room without my asking. That was very responsible."

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Encourage persistence, step by step

It takes persistence to achieve long-term goals. Learning to break those goals down into small steps can help your child keep going. To encourage persistence, help your child think of each step as an experience that adds to knowledge. When a step isn't fun, help your student plan a small reward for finishing it, such as listening to a favorite song. Then, mark your child’s progress with visual reminders, such as stickers on a chart.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Get help if schoolwork is a constant challenge

If your child is struggling day after day with schoolwork, contact the teacher. Explain what is happening and ask for suggestions. Your child might need extra help from a tutor or a schedule to make up missed assignments. Your student may need more challenging work or help with English or technological issues. Work with the teacher on a plan to address the issue, then follow up.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Put your child's creativity on display

When you display your elementary schooler’s artwork, it encourages further creativity. Putting art on the refrigerator is great, but why not go a step beyond? Try matting and framing a piece of your child's art that is particularly creative. Let your child help you use an inexpensive ready-made mat and frame, then hang the masterpiece for all to see. Or use a copier to duplicate the art so your child can share it with family and friends.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

D is for your child's own dictionary

To boost literacy skills, help your child make a personal dictionary. Write a letter of the alphabet on a sheet of paper. Next, ask your child to cut out pictures from ads or old magazines of items that begin with that letter, and paste them to the sheet. Help your child label the pictures. Then, pick another letter! This is a long-term project, so if it stops being fun, stop and come back to it another day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A few extra minutes can make a big difference

Often, children with poor study habits don't change them because they don't believe that a little extra effort can go a long way. To get the idea across, try having your child study one subject for 15 minutes longer than usual each day. Your student might use the time to rework math problems from class or make up a sample test, for example. Then, watch how this small extra effort affects progress and grades in that subject.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Talk about ways your child can handle anger

Feeling angry sometimes is normal. But children need to learn appropriate ways to express their anger. Teach your elementary schooler coping strategies to use when feeling angry, such as taking deep breaths. Also, encourage your child to think for a minute before saying anything, or to get away from the situation until calm feelings return. Discuss appropriate actions in different situations: Your student can walk away or tell an adult when being teased, for example.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Catching words makes reading fun!

Kids who enjoy reading do more of it. Make reading fun for your young reader with a "fishing" game: Get some index cards. Write one vocabulary word on each, then attach a paper clip to each card. These are the fish. To make a rod, tie a magnet to one end of a piece of string, and tie the other end to a small stick. Now, let your child "fish" for words. Award one point for every word your child can read (or define, if your student is older).

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Point out the positive results of effort

When it comes to achieving in school, intelligence propels students only so far. It takes hard work to get the rest of the way. Let your child know you place a high value on effort. Then, reinforce your message by showing your student how effort pays off. When your elementary schooler gets a high grade on a test, for example, say, "I know how hard you studied, and this is the result. I'm proud of you."

Friday, March 08, 2024

Help your child learn to work as part of a team

Leadership is a positive trait, but students also need to know how to work with others without taking over. To encourage fairness, take turns making some family decisions, such as what toppings to put on a pizza. Discuss the need to consider everyone's tastes. Promote fairness by setting rules such as "If one person chooses the game, the other gets the first turn." Offer praise when your child shows teamwork.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Get set for standardized tests

Standardized tests are a part of most students' school careers. Ask the teacher when your child will be taking a standardized test. Then, help your student prepare by reading, talking and playing word games together. When your child reads, boost comprehension skills by asking questions, such as "What was the main idea?" Above all, keep standardized tests in perspective. They are only one measure of your child's ability.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Set the timer to jumpstart writing

Here's a great way to encourage your child to write. Together, choose a topic. Then, set a timer for five to seven minutes. Until the timer rings, both of you write whatever comes into your head. Keep writing, even if it doesn't make sense. When the timer goes off, share what you each wrote. This also works to help jumpstart a writing assignment when your child says, "I can't think of anything to say."

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Help your child get ready to concentrate

Kids need to be able to concentrate when doing schoolwork. Here are some techniques that can help: When your child is about to tackle an assignment, offer this reminder: "Think through what you are going to do." A mental picture can make concentrating easier. You can also let your elementary schooler choose a fun activity to earn when the work is complete, such as playing a game with you. It may help your child persist through a tough task.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Show your child how to make the time for projects

You've got a big project looming. Your child has a science report due and has yet to start it. The solution to both situations is the same: Don't put things off. Together, make specific plans for doing the work for your projects. Put them on the calendar. Then, show your child how to look for "extra" time. You both can brainstorm project ideas while waiting in line, for example. Your child can read a few pages of research material on a car ride.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

To encourage reading, try tips from the kids

When the Reading is Fundamental program asked children what encouraged them to read, the kids had great responses. Here are some to try: Let your child pick out books. Set goals and offer small incentives (one mom adds a new circle to a paper "reading caterpillar" for each book her child reads). Send your child notes of praise for finishing a chapter or to say "I love you." And set an example by reading in your own free time.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Serve up conversation at family meals

It may not be easy to get your family together for a meal, but research shows it's worth the effort. Mealtime conversation can improve your child's vocabulary and academic performance, and strengthen bonds with you. Strive to eat at least one meal as a family each day. Turn off distracting devices and talk about everyone's day. Address your child directly and encourage participation in the conversation.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Encourage your child to use time management tools

To succeed academically, your child will need to be able to plan and use time wisely. To begin building this skill, teach your child to be a clock-watcher and calendar-counter. For example, ask your student to watch the clock to make sure your family is ready on time for school, work or other activities. And have your child use a calendar to count off the days until a birthday, spring break or a special family outing.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for February 2024

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Learn a new word for a special occasion

2024 is a leap year, and February has an extra day. Teach your child another name for leap year: "Intercalary year." Intercalary means "inserted into a calendar," or "inserted between other things or parts." How many times today can your family use this new word in a sentence?

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Five things teachers really want from families

Teamwork between home and school can make a big difference to your child's learning. Here are five things teachers wish all families would do: 1. Build your child's confidence with praise and love. 2. Discuss the school day and the things your child is learning together. 3. Support your child's effort with schoolwork. 4. Schedule some relaxed reading time each evening. 5. Partner with the teachers to support school success.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Experiment with fractions your child can see

Some children find fractions more intimidating than whole numbers. Hands-on activities can help your elementary schooler see and understand the concepts. Try this one: Get out some measuring cups and two identical glasses. Have your child pour one cup of water into the first glass. Then, have your child guess: How many half-cups will it take to fill the other glass to the same level? How many quarter cups? One-third cups? Experiment together to find out.

Monday, February 26, 2024

No-nag strategies help your child keep track of responsibilities

Nobody likes to be nagged. But kids need to be reminded of their responsibilities once in a while. Here are some simple solutions: Teach your child to write tasks on a to-do list in order of importance and cross them off as they are finished. You can also make a job chart that lists responsibilities, when they should be done and by whom. Then you can just point to the chart. Or, create a "daily reminder box" that family members can check.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

When kids teach, they also learn

Sometimes, the best way to remember something is by teaching it to someone else. When it’s time to study for a test, have your child make up questions for you to answer. Take the test, then let your child explain the answers to you. You'll learn what your elementary schooler knows (and where things are a little fuzzy), and your child will solidify understanding of the information.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Be clear about the behavior you want to see

"Don't forget your jacket." "Don't run in the street." Sometimes it seems like adults fill kids' heads with all the things they're not supposed to do. The problem is that young children often tune out the word "don't." Instead, tell your child what TO DO: "Take your jacket. Stay on the sidewalk."

Friday, February 23, 2024

Encourage your child's creative side

Children can sometimes express themselves better through movement or artwork than they can in words. To encourage your child's artistic self-expression, offer a variety of materials for art projects. Provide a place to work where it's OK to make a mess. Expose your elementary schooler to creative works by others, too. Without even leaving home, you may be able to visit an art museum's website, and watch virtual plays, concerts and dance performances online.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Footprints make learning facts fun

Here's a way to make memorizing things like math facts more engaging for your child: Cut out a lot of paper footprints. Write a math fact (5 x 7 = 35, for example) on each and place them throughout your home. Have your child follow the footprints, saying each fact out loud. Rearrange the footprints around the house each day.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

To encourage action, play Beat the Clock

If you have trouble getting your child to do something, try transferring your authority to a neutral "boss." For example, when you want your child to finish a chore, complete schoolwork or get ready for bed, set a kitchen timer and play Beat the Clock. Your child must complete the activity before the buzzer rings. Kids love it when the kitchen timer is in charge, and you won't have to be the bad guy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Open the door to creative stories with five words

When children tell stories, they learn to use their imaginations, to play with words and to structure their thoughts. To have some family fun with storytelling, select at least five words with no connection to one another (for example: dragon, song, tree, happy, forgetful). Have each family member tell a story that includes all the selected words. Then, compile your tales in a book, Stories of Our Family.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Are you showing your child how to resolve differences respectfully?

The way you manage your response during a conflict sets an example for your child. When you get upset with someone, be a role model. Calm down by counting to 10, or agree to talk later when you're calm. Try to be honest about your feelings, and listen carefully to the other person's feelings. Remember to talk about the problem, rather than attack the person. Then, think of possible solutions and agree on what's fair.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Make it easier for your child to do schoolwork

Helping with schoolwork doesn't include doing it for your child. Instead, support your child’s effort to do it. Make sure your elementary schooler has a clear place to study. Then, establish schoolwork routines so your child will develop positive study habits. Turn distractions like TVs, phones and loud music off. When subjects are challenging, help your child see how they relate to personal interests. You can also add some fun by making up games or songs to help your child learn facts.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Family time doesn't have to be complicated

Families hear a lot about spending "quality time" with their children. But quantity time is important, too. Children who spend more time with their parents tend to do better in school. Try taking a daily walk with your child. You both need exercise, and you'll have time to talk. Eat at least one meal together each day. And look for things you can do as a family, such as having a picnic in the park or playing a game of Scrabble.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Reinforce the link between actions and consequences

It's important for your child to understand that actions have consequences. Whenever possible, establish consequences that logically flow from your child's actions. For example: If your child won't get up in the morning, bedtime will have to be set earlier, since your child obviously needs more sleep. To reinforce that all choices have consequences, sometimes have family members talk at dinner about the consequences of their choices that day.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Bring world events to your child's wall

To help your child learn about what's happening in the world, create a current events wall together. Encourage your child to look through news articles and print or cut out pictures and articles about current events. Post them on a bulletin board. Older children can sort the stories into categories, such as local, national and world articles, or topics, such as science and sports. Change the display every week or two.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Special time makes the best valentine

This Valentine's Day, show your child your love with a gift of quality time with you. Here's how: Cut out some paper hearts. On each one, put an amount of time (10, 15 or 30 minutes, an hour). Each heart is good for the specified amount of one-on-one time with you. Then, let your child trade in a voucher for your undivided attention at the soonest convenient time. And today and every day, tell your child “I love you!”

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Add some math to your child's TV time

Does your child love TV? Here's a way to add value to screen time. While watching a show, have your child keep track of the number of minutes of program before each commercial break, and then the number of minutes of commercials. Which is greater, program minutes or commercial minutes? Help your child create a bar graph with the results.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Encourage skill-building by making it fun

Your child is learning new skills in school. And providing opportunities to practice them at home in fun ways helps to solidify them. To reinforce writing skills, for example, you could have a "silent supper," where family members write notes instead of talking. You can also make practicing math facts a game by writing math problems in one column and the answers in another (in a different order) and having your child match them up.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

There are many positive reasons to talk to teachers

Have you contacted your child's teacher lately? You don't have to have a problem to talk to the teachers. You can mention how hard your child is working. Or let the teacher know about progress you think your child is making. Get in touch by email or ask the teacher for a conference appointment. The information you share about your student helps teachers be more effective.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Give back talk the silent treatment

It can be very irritating when children have to have the last word in every argument, or mumble negatively under their breath. But instead of getting angry, experts suggest that you ignore your child's last words. Back talk won't get your elementary schooler anywhere if you've ended the conversation, stopped listening and begun to walk away. Wait until you are both calm and then return to the conversation.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Teach a respectful approach to questioning teachers

Teachers are human and can make mistakes. But there is a right way and a wrong way for students to question a teacher. It's disrespectful to speak up in the middle of the class and say, "You're wrong!" and try to prove the teacher incorrect. Instead, teach your child to respectfully ask questions that promote understanding: "Did you mean…?" "Well, what if…?" "What do you think about…?"

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Break big tasks into small pieces to help your child see them through

Many elementary schoolers have a tough time thinking ahead and following through on their plans. One reason is that they lack a realistic sense of time. Your child may really think one day is enough time to finish a big project. Help your student break large assignments down into small parts to do over several days.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

An audience makes reading aloud more fun

Kids enjoy reading to their families, and listening to your child read is a great way to instill a love of reading. When you're not available, give your child the next best thing: a captive audience. Gather a few stuffed animals or action figures around your student. They can listen while your child reads. Later, ask your child about audience reactions. "What was Monkey's favorite part?" "Did Batman understand the main point?"

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

The smart way to learn requires effort

Effort is essential for academic success. Students who try will learn and get smarter. Remind your child that when it comes to intelligence, "It's what you do with what you have that counts." Offer encouragement by saying often that you are sure that with effort and persistence, your student can learn anything. And when your child makes progress, be sure to say "You see? Your hard work is paying off."

Monday, February 05, 2024

Play a guessing game with sound-alike words

Homophones are words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings (heal, heel; bear, bare; weigh, way). To sharpen your child's sense of language, think of a pair of homophones and give clues to guess it. For example, "I'm thinking of a word that is a letter and a drink" (T, tea). Get started with some of these pairs: ant, aunt; board, bored; hole, whole; meet, meat; rows, rose.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Move forward from a poor report card

How should you react to a poor report card? First, there’s no need to panic or get upset. Just talk to your child calmly about each grade. Ask, “Do you understand why you earned this grade?” Next, ask the teacher about things your child can do to improve and ways you can help. Find out what help may be available from the school, such as peer tutoring. Then, help your child set specific, achievable goals for improvement.

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Use poems to build language skills

Reading poetry together enhances your child’s awareness of language and how it can be used. Share a wide variety of poems with your elementary schooler. When you read them, speak slowly and let your child listen to each word. Your student is likely to hear new descriptive words. Talk about unfamiliar words, and help your child look them up. Your student will build vocabulary and gain ideas for use when writing.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Go 'shopping' for financial literacy

Create an imaginary cash register and give your child practice making correct change. Here's how: Sort a few dollars' worth of change into four boxes: one each for pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Then, put together a selection of "products" marked with prices. Take turns with your child being cashier and customer. Add to the challenge by increasing the number of items you buy at a time.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

A lot of learning can happen in just a few minutes

In as little as five minutes a day, you can help your child learn. You can ask a question to stimulate creative thinking (What if the sun came up at night?). Or ask your child to express an opinion and back it up with reasons (What is your favorite book? Why?). You can tell a story full of information about the real world, or simply say "I love you." Children need to feel loved to take the risks necessary to learn.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for January 2024

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Teach your child who to call in an emergency

Does your child know who to call in an emergency? Don't wait for a crisis to find out. You should have these numbers programmed in your cell phone and posted by every telephone in your home: Police, fire and emergency responders (911); family members' work phones and cell phones; a nearby neighbor. Show your child how to make calls. Talk about which number to call in different circumstances, and what to say.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Create a family yearbook with your child

Family bonds give children a sense of security. One way to foster this important connection is to have your child help you preserve family memories in a yearbook. Throughout the year, collect photos of family events and have your child put them in an album. Add things that remind you each of special times: a recipe you all loved, a leaf found on an autumn walk. Encourage your child to write captions.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Make math tasty with an estimation game

Estimation is an important part of math. Here's a fun way for your child to practice estimating: Get two large glasses of the same size. Fill one with something small (like dry beans). Fill the other with something large (like cookies). Have your child estimate how many pieces are in each glass. Then, have your student count to check the answers. Finally, enjoy the cookies together!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

One activity will help your child every day

One of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed in school is to read aloud together. It introduces young children to the delights of books, and even older kids love to be read to. Make reading aloud together a daily priority. To keep it interesting, be sure to read books you enjoy. And sometimes, build your child's vocabulary by reading books that are a little too advanced for your child to read alone.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Create silly sentences to make lists memorable

Studying for a test usually involves memorizing. Your child can remember lists of items by writing a sentence using words that begin with the first letter of each word in the list. For example, the first letter of each word in "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles" stands for the first letters of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Help your child give up on quitting

It's important to teach your child that failure is something that can happen, not something a person is. Here are some things you can say to encourage your elementary schooler after a setback: "That's a challenge, but I know if you stick with it you can do it." "It will get easier with more practice." "If it doesn't work that way, try another way." "You were able to do ____ when you thought you couldn't. I bet you can do this, too."

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Explain how to respond to bullies

Bullying can happen in person and online. But students are less likely to be bullied if they appear confident and resourceful. Encourage your child to avoid kids who demonstrate bullying behavior. In a bullying situation, remind your child to say "no" and express feelings with words, not violence. Ask your student to tell you or a trusted adult at school about bullying behavior directed at your child or anyone else. And if you think your child is being bullied, tell the school immediately.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Give your child time to think

Your elementary schooler is learning how to think about learning as well as facts. To nurture these skills, allow some time for your child to figure schoolwork out independently. If your student has forgotten how to do a math problem, for example, ask, "How could you find out?" And when your child finishes an assignment or project, ask questions about how the process went, such as "Did you allow enough time to finish?" and "What did you learn?"

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Reading time isn't over when you reach 'The End'

Some of the best reading times come after you've closed the book. After reading aloud together, ask your child to retell the story. Which were the good parts? Why does your child think so? Next, help make connections between the book and your child's own life. Has your child ever felt like any of the characters in the story? Thinking and talking about books enriches your child's reading experience.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Teach self-control by giving responsibility

It takes time for children to understand the value of self-control, as opposed to control that's imposed by adults. You can help by gradually giving your child more responsibility for completing schoolwork and chores. Be patient and persistent, and your elementary schooler will grow into a happy, self-disciplined adult who is ready and able to tackle life's challenges.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Attendance is critical for your child's success

Children who miss school often fall behind and score lower on tests. They can have a hard time making and keeping friends. And frequent absences in elementary school set a pattern that increases the risk that a student will drop out of school later. Make school attendance a family priority. Don't let your child skip school for reasons other than illness or emergency. If your student regularly resists going to school, or your family is facing attendance obstacles, let the teacher or school counselor know.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Support your child on the way to ambitious goals

People who achieve usually set their sights high. If your child has set a lofty goal, help break it down into a series of smaller, readily achievable goals. Then, provide support if the going gets rough. Say things like, "Keep your eyes on your goal. Getting on the honor roll is worth it." Be sure to recognize your child's progress. Remind your elementary schooler that progress itself is a success, even if the goal is still unmet.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Play a comparison game with your child

Comparing is a thinking skill your child will need in school. Here's a game that will sharpen this skill: Find several pictures of items that are similar but not the same. They might be things such as flowers, houses, babies or cars. Make some big, some small, some different colors. Ask your child to put similar pictures together. Then, ask why your child grouped them that way. How many different ways can your elementary schooler group them?

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Talk about how to show respect for others

Respect is the basis for other desirable behaviors in school. Discuss common courtesies with your child, like saying "Thank you" and "Excuse me" that show respect. Explain that trying to understand other people's viewpoints is another respectful courtesy, as is being honest and not deceiving, cheating or stealing from others.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Practice scientific thinking at home

Scientists know that asking the right questions leads to learning. To practice the "scientific method" at home, have your child think of a question (What happens to plants if it stops raining?). Next, read about the topic together and have your child make a guess about the answer. Then, help your child figure out how to test if the guess is right (grow two plants, but water only one). Your student should write down what happens and report to you on the results.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

When helping with schoolwork, think ABC

Helping your child with schoolwork can be as simple as ABC (and D and E)! A is for Attitude. Model a positive attitude toward learning for your child. B is for Breaks. Let your student take short breaks during study sessions. C is for Choice. Let your child choose what to work on first. D is for Directions. Your child should read them carefully, then restate them. E is for Encouragement. Find positive things to say about your elementary schooler's efforts.

Monday, January 15, 2024

This trick looks like magic, but it's science

Try this science experiment with your child: Place a penny on a sheet of paper. Set a clear glass of water on top of the penny. Can your child see the penny? Next, cover the top of the glass with a saucer. The penny disappears! Explain that we see objects when light rays reflect off them into our eyes. But the light reflecting off the penny has to pass through air, water and glass, which makes it bend. The saucer blocks the bent light ray from reaching your child's eye, and the penny seems to disappear.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

A failing grade is feedback for the future

Your child didn't pass a test. What should you do? Think of F as standing for "feedback." First, notice anything your child got right. Then, help your student learn from the rest by asking questions such as: What kinds of questions did you miss? Did you miss them because of something you didn't read or remember from your notes or the book? Did you make careless errors on questions you knew? What does this test tell you about how you should prepare for the next one?

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Send your child off to sleep with positive thoughts

The last words you say to your child at bedtime will be the words that will echo in your elementary schooler’s brain all night. Make a daily habit of remembering the best thing your child did that day. Talk about it right before saying goodnight.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Ask questions to encourage thinking

Not every problem your child will face will have an easy solution. So it's important to teach your student to ask questions and think things through. To promote this kind of thought, say things like, "I wonder why that happened" or "I wonder what might happen if …?" Encourage your child to ask questions about the world all around. And when your elementary schooler expresses an opinion, demonstrate how to find facts to support it.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Share a strategy for success on matching tests

Tests in elementary school often have a matching section. To help your child score well, talk about how to answer this type of question. Remind your child to read all the directions carefully. Then your child should look to see whether one column is longer than the other. If so, some answers may not get used. Tell your child to match the easiest items first, and then cross out already used answers. That will narrow the choices for the tougher matches.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

When you set rules and limits, explain why

Children need and want limits. But don't simply make a rule and demand obedience from your child. Once kids are old enough to reason, they should be encouraged to do so. Understanding why they should or should not do things helps them make good decisions when adults aren't around. When you make a rule or set a boundary, explain why your child should obey it (and avoid saying things like, "Because I said so!").

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Balance screen time with activities that matter

Children learn by doing. The main problem with too many passive screen activities is that they keep kids from doing more productive things. Students are spending more time with screens to do schoolwork. So after school, make sure your child spends plenty of time reading, playing outdoors, making art, pretending or just thinking. These activities are vital for healthy development.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Chapter books make great 'installment' read alouds

Young children have short attention spans, so short books work well for read-aloud times. But as they grow older, children can enjoy longer, more challenging books. Reading books aloud on the "installment plan" is a great way to read with an older elementary schooler. Try reading a chapter each night. Then, stop and ask what your child thinks might happen next. Who is your child’s favorite character? Why?

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Telling a story can make it easier to write

Creative writing assignments can be challenging for students. Some children can't think of anything to write. Or they can think of a beginning, but by the time they write it down, they've forgotten where they were going next. One strategy that can help is to have your child tell the story into a recording device. Then your student can just listen to it and write it down. Your child will probably have to do some editing, but it's a great way to overcome writer’s block.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Teach the three A's that improve school success

Grades aren’t the only A’s that matter in school. Your child can be successful in school by mastering these three A's: 1. Attendance. Attendance is a fundamental factor in academic success. You know how important it is in the working world, too. Teach your child that it’s a priority. 2. Attitude. Help your child learn the importance of effort. Explain by putting effort into school, your child will learn. 3. Achievement. Teach your child to set and work toward goals. Encourage your elementary schooler to aim high.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Show your child the positive side of mistakes

What sets successful people apart? When things don't work out the way they plan, they don't think of themselves as failures. Instead, they always try to learn from the experience. To instill this habit in your child, ask, "What would you do differently the next time?" Explain that you're always proud of your child for trying new things and new ways to solve problems, because that's how people get smarter.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Simple ways you can make a difference every day

Families play an enormous part in their children's academic achievement. Here are some simple, effective things to do to help your student: Establish routines for schoolwork, chores, mealtimes and bedtime. Read with your child every day, and make wise use of limited recreational screen time. Supervise your child's activities. And when it comes to school, express high expectations for your child, then encourage and praise effort.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Help your child start the day a healthy way

Research shows that a nutritious breakfast helps children do better in school. Help your child research healthy breakfast foods. Have your student draw or cut out pictures of breakfast foods, then look up their nutritional information, such as sugar, fat, vitamins and fiber. Then your child can put the pictures and information on a poster for your kitchen. Together, use the poster to plan a week of healthy breakfasts.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Remember 10 rules for promoting positive behavior

Ten rules can help you maintain effective discipline and a healthy relationship with your child: 1. Set positive goals for behavior. 2. Make rules and consequences clear and enforce them consistently. 3. Involve your child in solving problems. 4. Avoid lecturing. 5. Offer praise for good behavior. 6. Ask why your child misbehaved, rather than making assumptions. 7. Use logical consequences. 8. Let your child make some choices. 9. Expect your child’s best effort. 10. Focus on your child’s strengths and show your love.

Monday, January 01, 2024

Resolve to make this a year for reading!

It's New Year's resolution time. To promote school success in 2024, make some resolutions that involve reading. Resolve to: 1. Set aside time every day when the whole family reads. 2. Keep lots of enticing reading material handy. 3. Read aloud with your child every day. Then, to stick to your resolutions, make a plan and track your progress. Don't forget to reward yourselves!

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for December 2023

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Make new goals as clear as a bell

Ring in the New Year by helping your child improve school habits. Help your elementary schooler identify poor habits to get rid of and decide on new positive habits to adopt instead. Next, have your child cut some bell shapes out of paper. Write the habits your child wants to stop and start on the bells and hang them from some colorful streamers. Then ring out the old and ring in the new!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Reaffirm your commitment to help your child learn

Families have supported their students in many ways this year. 2023 may be over, but the need for your involvement in your child's education continues until your student graduates. As we head into 2024, consider making this pledge: "I promise to monitor my child's schoolwork and talk about school and what my student is learning. I will expect my child's best effort in school. I will read with my child every day, and say "I love you" and "I know you can learn and do well."

Friday, December 29, 2023

Token earning can motivate learning

When learning something new, some children respond well to learning incentives. These are rewards your child receives after performing well. Give points or tokens when your child does what's expected. Take them away when your child doesn't. Let your student trade the tokens for play time or small rewards. Don't make it too difficult to earn them, or your child may end up feeling defeated.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Prepare your child to tackle challenges

Competence leads to confidence. To give your elementary schooler the confidence to face academic and life challenges, help improve organizational skills. Having items when they are needed makes kids feel capable. Also, offer your child plenty of opportunities to express opinions and have them taken seriously. Talk together about how you handle work responsibilities and challenges, too. Your attitude will inspire similar behavior from your child.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Whip up some enthusiasm for spelling

Here's a fun idea to help your child master the alphabet and the spelling of simple words: Spread a layer of whipped cream on a dark-colored tray or plate. Have your child use a finger to write letters and words. Mistakes are easily wiped away, and correct spelling is quickly rewarded with a lick of a finger.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Schedule time for the things that matter

There is no doubt about it. Routines help children feel comfortable and confident. Setting up routines can also help you avoid arguments with your child and encourage positive study habits. Consider making these items part of your family's daily routine: A discussion of what happened during each person's day; regular times for schoolwork, chores and preparing for the next day; family reading time and exercise.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Cozy up for family storytelling

Are you looking for educational family entertainment? Then grab some snacks and get cozy for a family storytelling night. To prepare, read a book to yourself enough times that you can tell your own version to your family. When you tell stories, your child creates mental images, an important reading skill. Have your elementary schooler tell a story, too!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

One good book may lead your child to another

You know reading is important, but your child just isn't interested in picking up a book. To encourage reading, ask to hear about a book that your child liked (or one that at least wasn't too bad). Then, look for other books that author has written. Get one and read the beginning aloud. If you can get to the "good part," your child may be more interested in reading the rest independently.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Teach empathy by example

Research shows that students do better academically and socially when their families emphasize kindness as much as they do grades. True kindness involves understanding how others feel. Model empathy for your child. Ask questions like, "How did that make you feel?" Then, show that you listened: "It sounds like you were really relieved." Imagine together how other people might be feeling, too. Make it a point to reward your child's thoughtfulness with praise.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Build your child's cooperation skills

To succeed in school, students need to be able to work well with others. Take time to teach your elementary schooler about cooperation. Make it clear that you expect your child to take turns and share, and offer praise when you see this behavior. Encourage your child to be honest by demonstrating honesty yourself. And explain that it makes you proud when your child admits mistakes and takes responsibility for them.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Pull out a puzzle for family thinking fun

Jigsaw puzzles are a great family winter activity. And they help develop your child's thinking skills and ability to recognize patterns. Pick a spot where you can leave the puzzle out while family members work on it. To add to the game, leave a scorecard out to keep track of how many pieces each person adds. Or put a star on the back of a piece and offer a reward to the person who fits it into its proper place.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Provide some memory building practice

How do children boost their memory skills? By memorizing. Here's a fun way to help your elementary schooler practice: Cut out five items from a grocery store ad. Ask your child to remember the items and their prices. Then remove the pictures. Can your child remember the items and what they cost? When remembering five is easy, try six, then seven and so on. Challenge your child to achieve a personal best.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Banish boredom with a creative board game

If your family has been playing the same board forever, have your child invent a new one! Cover an old or worn-out game board with white self-stick paper, then get out some colored markers and ask your child to draw a new game. Next, have your student write a set of rules for the new game. Then play! If you want to preserve the game, cover it with clear self-stick paper. It will last until your child is ready to invent another.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Send a strong message about substance abuse

Here are some facts all families should know: Kids who begin drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence during their lifetimes than those who start after age 21. The median age for first alcohol abuse among teens is 14, and the most commonly abused drugs among 12- to 13-year-olds are alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription medicines. Unintentional consumption of edible cannabis products by children is on the rise, and it often results in hospitalization. It's also true that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their families from elementary school age on are 50 percent less likely to use them.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Unwrap holiday meanings for your child

Holidays offer lots of fun activities and chances for families to create bonds and learn together. This season, set aside some quiet moments to talk with your child about the meanings of the holidays your family celebrates, and why you do what you do. Spend some time reading books together about December holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Can your child think of a new holiday tradition your family can start?

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Engage your child in active thinking

Here are four ways to help your elementary schooler be an active thinker: 1. Encourage your child to ask questions. Then listen and take the questions seriously. 2. Ask your child to find facts to support opinions. 3. As you and your student go about daily activities, encourage guessing about how things work, and then try to find the answers together. 4. Challenge your child to make estimates: "How long do you think it will take to do this math?"

Friday, December 15, 2023

Listen to your child…and to the teacher

It's important for children to feel heard and believed. If your child tells you something a teacher did that seems unkind or unfair, you should listen. But don't assume the incident is as bad as it sounds. If you are concerned by what your child says, contact the teacher. Calmly express your concern and ask for the teacher's point of view. If there's a problem, work together to solve it.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Create a checklist for a smoother morning

Even children who wake up early may have trouble getting ready for school on time. But a little bit of planning can make your morning routine less hectic. Make a list with your child of things that must be done each morning before anything else. Post the list and a pencil in a handy spot, and let your child check off tasks after completing them. Your elementary schooler will start the day with a sense of accomplishment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Encourage responsible behavior three ways

Families want children to learn to make responsible choices about school and life. But constant direction and criticism can wear kids down. To encourage positive behavior, say thank you when your child behaves responsibly without being told. Praise efforts, not just outcomes. And encourage involvement in hobbies that keep your child busy. Busy kids need less external control than those with too much time on their hands.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Use the news as a teaching tool

Newspapers (in print or online) are a great source of learning activities for your child. Take turns at dinner having each family member report on something (even the comics) they read in today's paper. Or you can take turns reading a brief article aloud with your child and discussing what each of you thinks is the most important fact. To build geography skills, help your child find states and nations mentioned in the news on a world map.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Every child needs these priceless gifts

As you think about holiday gifts, remember there are some gifts that last a lifetime that only you can give your child: The gift of your time: reading together, helping with learning and just enjoying each other. The gift of understanding: that your child will make mistakes, and that you can help your student learn from them. The gift of confidence: Believing in your child's abilities helps your child believe, too.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Preserve school-year memories your child can be proud of

Show that you think your child is special by making a school memory book. Collect school-related mementos like photos of your child reading, the super-hard math problem your student finally solved, etc. In the spring, lay them on the floor in chronological order and let your child choose what to include to remember this school year. Put the items in a scrapbook. If you do it each year, your child will have a visual reminder of many things to be proud of.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Get a jump-start on good behavior

A large part of discipline should happen before your child misbehaves. Creating a loving, respectful relationship with your child can motivate good behavior. Then, be sure to praise what your child does right. To prevent repeated misbehavior, make some changes. A child who is always cranky and slow in the morning, for example, may need an earlier bedtime.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Turn words into action to improve writing

Writers carefully choose verbs that paint a picture of the action they want to convey. To help your child practice, play the Name That Action game. On slips of paper, write verbs that describe a precise action, like skip, hop, stomp, tiptoe, limp and crawl. Take turns drawing a slip and acting out the word. Whoever guesses the word goes next. Encourage your child to remember this game when writing. Choosing the right descriptive verb will make your child's writing come alive.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Siblings are great for encouraging reading

Studies show that children who see an older brother or sister reading for fun are more likely to seek out books themselves. Read together often as a family. And when it's time for new books, take your children to the library together. Let your younger child watch the big kids browsing and reading.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Write and fold the way to spelling success

Here's a tip that can help your child study spelling words: Divide a piece of paper into four columns, labeled Cover, Look, Write and Check. Your child should write a word in the Look column and say the letters aloud. Next, fold the Cover column over the Look column. Have your child write the word from memory in the Write column. Your student can verify accuracy by uncovering the Look column, and then write the word correctly in the Check column.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Encourage your child to jot down reading summaries

By the time your child has finished reading the last chapter of a book, are the details of the beginning long forgotten? It will be easier to write or do projects about books if your child stops to write a short summary (one or two paragraphs) after reading each chapter. Then, after finishing the book, your child will be ready to edit the notes into a final report, or to choose key events to highlight in a project.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Focus on planning and persistence, not perfection

Successful students don't quit when schoolwork gets difficult. To encourage an "I can finish this" attitude, never offer to complete a project for your elementary schooler. Instead, help your child develop step-by-step plans for completing assignments on time. Then, offer praise for effort on each step of the process, not just for the final result. Help your student keep in mind that persistence is more important for learning than perfection.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Spark imagination with picture books

Picture books are not just for preschoolers. They are great tools for stretching any child's creative thinking. Look at a picture book with your child and ask questions such as: "Can you tell me a story about what you see?" "Can you imagine what happened before this?" "What do you think will happen next?" "What do you think the artist was trying to say?" See how many stories and ideas your child can think of.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Routines make children feel safe

A feeling of security gives children the courage to face changes and challenges. For most kids, that sense of security comes from feeling loved. It also comes from knowing that some things don't change. Establishing routines and following them will build your child's sense of security. Set regular times for bed, meals, reading and studying. When schedules must change, let your child know how and why.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Highlight the rewards of acting responsibly

Sometimes, children need to be reminded to fulfill their responsibilities. To remind your child without nagging, try using "When…then." For example, "When you have finished your schoolwork, then you may build with Legos." This helps your child remember the good things that can happen only after the task is done. This technique is most effective when you use it consistently.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for November 2023

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Encourage attempts at independent learning

Some children can become too dependent on family help with schoolwork. To offer support while helping your child become an independent learner: Explain that one of the things students must learn is to do their own schoolwork, and you will help. Then, select one section of an assignment for your child to try alone. Make sure your elementary schooler knows what to do, then leave the room. If the work is totally wrong, explain the concepts again. If the work is fine, have your child do another section.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Try pro tips for tutoring your child

Teachers do all they can to help students learn. But there may be times when your child also needs your support with schoolwork. Ask the teacher to suggest materials you can use, such as books or flashcards, and the best ways to help. Then, when tutoring your child, praise effort and correct responses. After an incorrect response, give the correct answer and ask your elementary schooler to repeat it. End tutoring sessions after 10 or 15 minutes, and keep a chart of your child's progress.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Replace perfectionism with more productive thinking

Some children can be very hard on themselves. They feel like failures if they aren't the best. To ward off this perfectionism, set reasonable goals for your child and relax about normal mistakes. When your child is self-critical, don't brush it off. Instead, discuss it. Remind your child that no one can be perfect. Point out your student's strengths, and encourage the use of affirmative self-talk, such as "I'm proud of how hard I tried."


Monday, November 27, 2023

Let your child learn from schoolwork choices

Offering some choices about how to do assignments can reduce friction over schoolwork. Doing the work isn't optional, but you can let your child decide things like: whether to work alone or near others, whether to start right after classes or after relaxing a bit, and whether to start with math or reading. Experiencing the consequences of a poor choice will help your child learn to make a better one next time.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Trade places to promote understanding

The next time you and your child have a disagreement, try switching roles. After things calm down, ask your child to pretend to be the parent while you pretend to be the child. Then act the way your child was acting, and have your "parent" explain why you should behave differently. Try to convince your "parent" it should be OK for you do as you want. You'll have some fun and each get a better idea of the other's point of view.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Give younger siblings 'schoolwork' too

How can you supervise your child's study sessions when a younger sibling has nothing to do and demands your attention? Try filling a "schoolwork" box with items for activities your preschooler can do independently, such as drawing or putting together puzzles. Your younger child will get in the habit of doing "schoolwork" before starting elementary school, and your older child will be able to concentrate on studying.


Friday, November 24, 2023

Team up with the teacher to tackle problems

By now, you are probably aware of any issues your child is having with school and learning. But you may not know how to address them. Your child's teacher is ready to help. Ask for a conference, in person, online or over the phone. Share your concerns and ask what the teacher has observed. Together, plan what you and the school can do to help. If necessary, meet again.


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Enjoy a holiday word game

Add a secret ingredient to your holiday feast this year: learning! Entertain your child (and the rest of the family, too) with this classic game. Pass out pencils and paper and ask people to make as many words as they can from the word "celebration." Or try a hands-on variation: Spell out a word with Scrabble tiles (or cardboard tiles you make yourself), and let your child rearrange the letters into new words.


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Inspire creative thinking with a tall-tale challenge

Here's a way to add variety to your bedtime reading routine and learn a bit more about your child. Sometimes, instead of reading a book, challenge your child to make up the "tallest of tall tales." It can start with "Once upon a time," and friends and school activities can be part of the plot, but then your child's imagination should take over. Storytelling gives your student experience in constructing a narrative, and you'll find out more about what matters to your child.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Practice skills at home that help kids make friends at school

Many of the important social skills that help children make friends at school can be taught at home. Role-play being friendly, honest and a good listener with your child. When you play games together, teach your child to be a good sport. You can promote skills like cooperation and compromise by doing projects together, such as making a family dinner.


Monday, November 20, 2023

Boost inner strength to combat negative influences

Celebrities and "influencers" can affect children's goals and how they see themselves, and sometimes in negative ways. Provide a positive influence by helping your children develop their own ideas about who they are and want to be. Praise their skills, effort and ideas rather than appearance or antics. Find ways for them to explore their strengths and talents. Show your confidence in their abilities to face challenges and find solutions for themselves.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Promote a positive attitude about math

Students' feelings about math can affect their performance in it. They are more likely to do better on a math assignment if they are calm and confident than if they are nervous or upset about it. To help your child get in the mood for math, offer a reminder that effort makes math smarts grow. Send the message that figuring out challenging problems is rewarding and fun. If your child is worried about being up to the challenge, offer reassurance: "You know more than you think you do."


Saturday, November 18, 2023

Ask your child to help with holiday plans

Participating in family rituals gives kids a sense of belonging. This holiday season, create some new traditions with your child. Together, decide what you will eat and what to do for family fun. Plan decorations your child can make. Think about ways everyone can help prepare and clean up. Your child will get a boost from seeing plans through and helping the family.


Friday, November 17, 2023

Show faith in your child's ability to improve

When kids get low grades, parents worry. But reacting to a child's promise to do better with negative comments such as, "I'll believe it when I see it," or "Prove it" won't help. Instead, offer your child encouragement on school mornings. Say "You can do this. I believe in you." You can also say that you know your child will try hard. Your support may supply the confidence your elementary schooler needs to live up to that promise!


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Avoid arguments over rules and behavior

Does your child use newly developed reasoning skills to argue with you? Keep in mind that the word 'no' sparks arguments. So, rather than saying "No, you can't watch a video," say "Yes, you can watch it when you have finished your schoolwork." It's also important not to offer choices when only one action will do. For example, don't ask if your child is ready for dinner. Say, "Dinner is ready. Please come to the table."


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Make time for fun, relaxing reading

Helping with schoolwork isn't the only way to support your child's education. One of the best things you can do is to encourage your student to read for fun and relaxation. Print out a story your child can read in the bathtub. Cozy up under a blanket and read by flashlight. To find more time, limit passive screen activities and offer reading as a replacement. The first two weeks may be hard, but it will get easier.


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Proven techniques can help your child master material

To succeed academically, students have to do more than memorize information. They also have to be able to understand it and recall it on demand. To boost memory skills, encourage your child to explain the material. Students think more about concepts when they put them into their own words. Help your child compare and contrast a new concept with ones already learned. Drawing a picture or symbol can also help your student remember a concept.


Monday, November 13, 2023

Have a creative sandwich celebration!

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich (the man who gave his name to the famous lunchtime staple) was born on this day in 1718. Celebrate the day by challenging your child to invent a new sandwich. Here are some categories to try: Best tasting sandwich. Most interesting meatless sandwich. New sandwich using fruit. Unusually shaped sandwich. Most creative breadless sandwich.


Sunday, November 12, 2023

Talk about what makes a decision wise

Help your child learn to make responsible decisions by talking about the choices children make every day. Discuss what makes a choice responsible, such as how it affects others and whether it helps your child achieve a goal or meet an expectation. At other times, talk about decisions you've made and what factors you considered while making them.


Saturday, November 11, 2023

Good feelings, not bribes, motivate students

Should you offer your child incentives to do schoolwork? Don't bribe your child with promises of money or material things in advance, say teachers. Instead, respond to hard work with a reward that helps your child feel capable of doing well. Offer specific praise that says exactly what your child did right. Other appropriate rewards might include special time with you, or letting your child select a movie for the family to watch together.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Encourage appreciation by thanking your child

The most effective way to get children to do what you want is to set an example. So, to help your child learn to appreciate people and the things they do, begin by thanking your child. You can thank your child for listening, using polite manners, setting the table or working hard on schoolwork. If you haven't thanked your elementary schooler by bedtime, do it then. Your child will fall asleep feeling good, and grateful that you noticed.


Thursday, November 09, 2023

Support your child through fourth grade challenges

Fourth grade can be a challenge for elementary school students. In the early grades, teachers focus on basic skills. But in fourth grade, students must use what they know. They generally tackle bigger projects and do more writing. To support your fourth grader in this transition year, stay positive and establish a regular study time. Encourage your child to set weekly goals and break big assignments into smaller chunks. Foster friendships with classmates. Your child is developing important skills that will help in the years to come.


Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Stay up-to-date on your child's progress

When poor grades catch families by surprise, they may do and say things they regret later. Avoid such surprises by staying aware of how your child is doing. Review your student's schoolwork daily, and talk about it together. What was easy? What was challenging? Chat often with your child about how school is going and listen closely. The stories students tell can reveal a lot. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to the teacher to get answers and discuss ways to support your child's learning.


Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Celebrate accomplishments with a trophy

Did your child raise a grade recently? Was your student named Student of the Week? Here's a fun way to reward a child for a job well done. Go to a thrift store and find a used trophy. Take it to an engraver and, for a small fee, get your child's name engraved on the nameplate. Then, celebrate your child's achievements!


Monday, November 06, 2023

Boost literacy skills with fun activities at home

Students do better in school when they practice reading and writing skills at home. To boost your child's literacy skills, incorporate fun reading and writing activities throughout the day. Reading is not just for bedtime! Keep books where your child can pick them up any time. Start a family journal. Play word games. Then, set an example and let your child see you pick up a book or write a poem in your own downtime.


Sunday, November 05, 2023

Accomplishment is worth a little struggle

Families who rush to solve their children's every problem send the message that they don't think the children can manage by themselves. But when students have a chance to work problems out for themselves, it makes them feel competent and confident. That's why sometimes, it's best to let your child struggle a bit with a problem. Offer support and encouragement ("I know you can figure this out"), and then allow your child some space to try.


Saturday, November 04, 2023

Try a sweet way to encourage independence

You want your child to ask for help with schoolwork when necessary. But some kids ask for help with every problem. To encourage some independent problem-solving, put out a bowl with a few small treats, like candies or grapes. When your child asks for help, give it, but remove a treat. When the treats are gone, so is the help. Say that your child can eat anything left in the bowl when the schoolwork is complete. If your child is truly stuck, let the teacher know.


Friday, November 03, 2023

Expect your child to try hard and learn well

Expectations matter. When you make it clear that you expect your child's best effort in school, your elementary schooler is more likely to do well. If you don’t, your child is less likely to achieve. Express your confidence that your child can learn and do well. Keep in mind, however, that even the best student will make mistakes. Your child needs to know that is OK, and mistakes are also chances to learn.


Thursday, November 02, 2023

Support your child in three ways every day

From day to day, you may be helping your child with schoolwork in many different ways. But according to research, three things support school success every day. The first is making class attendance a priority. The second is reading with your child. The third is making time for productive, screen-free activities. When the school day is over, encourage your child to read, play board games, exercise or think.


Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Experiment with estimating time

Does your child dawdle over schoolwork then run out of time? Your student may be having trouble managing time. To strengthen this skill, have your child estimate how much time each task will take. Write down the estimates beside each task. Then keep track of the actual time the task takes, and have your child compare the actual time to the estimates. Your elementary schooler will learn how much time tasks really take and be better able to plan work.


eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for October 2023

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Explain the steps for managing anger

Anger is a natural emotion. But kids need to learn how to cope with strong feelings like anger without lashing out. Explain that if your child feels anger rising, it's a good idea to step away from the person or situation if possible. Then, your child should try to figure out what is causing the feeling. When the feeling eases, your child should discuss the issue calmly, listen to the other person's point of view and compromise if necessary.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Predictable books help kids connect with reading

Children who are just learning to read benefit from books that help them along. When you choose books for your child, look for text with rhythm and rhyme, and repeated words and sentences. Predictable plots and events that follow a natural time sequence make it easier for young readers to follow the story. A plot or character your child can relate to will boost interest.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

With your help, your child can do great things

Research makes it clear: All families, no matter the adults' own level of education, can help their children succeed academically. To do it, set high (but still realistic) goals for your child. Then stress the importance of persistence, and praise effort and progress. Be firm about limits and enthusiastic about school. Show respect for your child's ideas, and share your family's values.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Help your child check for writing quality

Before your child hands in a writing assignment, review it together. Help your child think about the answers to this checklist of questions: 1. Does my writing make sense? Are the facts correct? 2. Does each paragraph connect logically to the ones before and after? 3. Are my sentences complete? Do subjects and verbs agree? 4. Are all the words spelled correctly? Are any overused? 5. Is my final draft neat and legible?

Friday, October 27, 2023

Show your child what subtraction looks like

If your child is having difficulty with subtraction basics, try using paper clips to show what subtraction looks like. Suppose your student must subtract 8 from 16. Make a chain of 16 paper clips. Have your child count them. Then your child can count again as you remove eight clips, one at a time. Finally, have your elementary schooler count the remaining clips. Visual aids like this can help students get a clearer idea of math concepts.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

How to help when your child is frustrated

Statements like, "I hate school!" or "I'm dumb!" are often signs that a child is frustrated with schoolwork. To help your child in this situation, share a story of how you struggled with something when you were young. Explain how you worked through it. Ask guiding questions to help your student come up with strategies to try. Then encourage your child to try again. If frustration persists, let the teacher know.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

When grades are great, focus on what's working

If your child's grades are suffering, you know what to do: Emphasize study skills and ask the teacher how to help. But when your child gets all A's? Don't make the common mistake of looking for something that still needs improvement. This can make students feel that nothing they do is good enough. Instead, discuss what your child is doing that's working. Compliment effort and look for ways to build on the subjects that interest your child.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Your assignment is to let your child teach you

It's may have been a long time since you had to do schoolwork. To show that you appreciate the work your student is doing, let your child give you an assignment from time to time. Even if it's easy for you, don't show it. Instead, ask your child to help you. Teaching others reinforces students' skills and makes them feel important and a little smarter.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Go online to show your child the world

The next time your child has to write a report about a state or a country, make a virtual visit together online. Have your child type the name of the place into a search engine and follow the links. Explain that news or local government websites may have more up-to-date information than older books. Have your elementary schooler look for some maps online, too. Print out some blank ones, so your child can practice labeling the features.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Make a place for 'works in progress'

You don't want your child's unfinished projects spread all over the house for weeks. But it's important not to make the preparation and cleanup so time-consuming that your student puts off doing the project until the last minute. Find a space (the top of a bookcase, a box in the closet) where your child can store the unfinished project and supplies. Make it easy for your student to pull the project out and work on it often.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Add a little excitement to math practice

Math skills improve with repetition. One way to make math practice fun for your child is to glue a picture onto each of 10 large index cards. Then cut the cards in half, mix them up and put them in a container. Set a timer for five minutes and give your child math problems one by one. Each correct answer earns your child a chance to draw a card. How many complete pictures can your student make before the timer runs out?

Make bedtime reading a relaxing ritual

When your child was younger, you may have read aloud at bedtime every night. But now that your child can read, should you keep up the habit? You bet. Research shows that, in addition to building literacy skills, the sound of reading aloud can help soothe children. Make daily bedtime reading with your child a relaxing time together. You'll be building cozy memories and reading skills for a lifetime.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Answer a teacher call with an open mind

It’s hard not to imagine the worst possible scenario when the teacher contacts you about a problem with your child. But getting upset with the teacher or your child won't help. Instead, ask for more information and listen with an open mind. You'll probably find that the situation is not as bad as you assumed. When you know the specifics, it’s easier to work with the teacher to solve the problem.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Create a study routine that helps your child focus

Some children have more trouble concentrating than others. That can make completing schoolwork challenging. Establishing a study routine will make it easier for your child to get down to work. Set a regular time and minimize distractions. Help your child make daily to-do lists and put them in an order that works for your student, such as hardest task first. Then, let your child take a five-minute break after every 20 minutes of working.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Show your child how you take responsibility for your mistakes

Your mistakes can teach your child useful lessons. When they happen, demonstrate how to behave. If you forget to do something you should have done, be honest and say, "I messed up." Then talk about what you could have done differently. Make amends if you can. Your elementary schooler will learn that you take responsibility for your mistakes, and that will make it easier for your child to do the same thing.


Monday, October 16, 2023

Support your child with love, limits and respect

Children value themselves as they are valued. To build the sense of self-worth that supports school success, make it clear that you love and accept your child. At the same time, set clear rules and limits. Your child will find security in them. Then, demonstrate respect by allowing your child to have a say in decisions that affect the entire family.


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Challenge your child to an observation game

Scientists are skilled observers. Play a game with your child to develop observation skills. Have your elementary schooler describe the front of a familiar building without looking at it. Ask your child for as many details as possible, and write down what your child says. Then take a trip to look at the building and compare your child's memory to reality. Play often with different buildings, and your student will learn to notice and remember details.


Saturday, October 14, 2023

Flash cards are versatile study tools

Many kids use flash cards to study math facts. But flash cards are also a great tool for learning new reading or science vocabulary words, as well as names, events and dates in social studies. Studying the cards and saying the words or facts on them out loud helps students memorize the material. Then, when they use the cards to quiz themselves, recalling the information helps reinforce it in their minds.


Friday, October 13, 2023

Make it clear that schoolwork is worth the effort

Families know that getting their children to do their best on schoolwork in a timely way is often a tough task. To provide motivation, treat school as your child's job. Set time aside to discuss it every day. Help your child see that effort affects results. For example, ask, "Do you think this is a grade you deserve? Why or why not?" Then discuss things your child did that worked, and what your elementary schooler could do differently.


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Prepare for a productive parent-teacher conference

Whether you meet online or in person, having a conference with the teacher is an important way to help your child learn. Before your conference, talk with your child. Ask about subjects your student likes best and least and why. Ask if your child has any concerns. To make sure you and the teacher discuss these and other things that matter most, make a list. Include things the teacher should know about your child, and questions about your child's progress and how you can help.


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Encourage confidence with a special bouquet

Encouragement helps kids become confident students. An "encouragement bouquet" is a fun way to remind your family to support one another. Put a vase in the middle of the table. With your child, attach paper cutout flowers to drinking straw stems. Then, whenever someone gives a compliment or word of encouragement to another family member, put a flower in the vase.


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Could your child have a learning difference?

Undiagnosed learning differences prolong academic struggles. The sooner they are recognized, the sooner kids can get the help they need to thrive. Experts recommend that families take NOTE. This stands for: Notice: Be aware of signs that your child might be struggling. Observe: Watch for patterns in your child's behavior. Talk: Discuss what you see with others who know your child. Engage: Get help from a professional, such as a teacher or doctor.


Monday, October 09, 2023

Use an iceberg to inspire appreciation of others

Kids sometimes make snap decisions about teachers and classmates. To help your child look a little deeper, talk about an iceberg. A little shows above the water and a larger part is hidden beneath. Explain that people are like icebergs; only a few of their qualities are immediately visible. Encourage your child to look for people's hidden qualities. For example, someone who seems stubborn at first might stick with your child in a tough spot.


Sunday, October 08, 2023

Slow down and perk up reading time

One of the most common mistakes parents make when they read to their children is reading too fast. Reading experts advise parents to slow down and "really get into the story." Be dramatic. Use different voices for each character. Pause for effect and to let your child ask questions. Then encourage your child to do the same when reading aloud to you.


Saturday, October 07, 2023

A do-over can improve a rough morning

Everyone has those mornings. Your child is grouchy and moving slowly. You keep repeating "hurry up." Sometimes the best cure is beginning again. Stop and say, "Hey, this isn't going too well. Let's start the morning over!" Leave the room, and then come back in with a big smile and say "Good morning!" You may start laughing together, and you will both have a healthier, more productive day.


Friday, October 06, 2023

Help grandparents be reading buddies

Grandparents love listening to their grandchildren read aloud, and it helps the children improve their reading skills. But often, distance gets in the way. If in-person visits won't work, try sending grandparents a copy of a book your child is reading. Then, when they call or video chat, they will be able to share reading time with your child.


Thursday, October 05, 2023

Your child can learn a lot from tests

Students often think that learning is only necessary before a test. But a lot of learning can happen afterward, too. When children review tests and identify the kinds of mistakes they make, they can learn how not to repeat them. Mistakes are commonly careless errors, or the result of lack of preparation or poor habits. Encourage your child to correct mistakes on tests. Then, brainstorm together about ways to avoid making the same kinds of errors again.


Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Encourage the qualities that help kids achieve

What makes a child an achiever? One study found that high-achieving students tend to be self-reliant, and realistic about their strengths and weaknesses. They set challenging but realistic goals, plan carefully, and know how to find and use help. They expect obstacles and prepare for them, and they check progress regularly. Foster these qualities and watch your child achieve great things.


Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Help your child be an independent learner

It can start with a simple question. But before you know it, you've spent 20 minutes answering your child's schoolwork questions. Instead, help your elementary schooler learn how to find the answers independently. If your child asks how to spell Illinois, for example, ask, "Where could you find that answer?" Get out the dictionary or a map or globe and have your child find it. Along with the answer, your child will learn how to find more answers in the future.


Monday, October 02, 2023

Provide plenty of thinking practice

Thinking is a skill. And like other skills, it can be strengthened with practice. To provide thinking opportunities, encourage your child to identify patterns. You might ask, for example, what your student sees in a spider's web. Also help your child think about the reasons for acting in a particular way. Then, ask questions like, "What would you do differently next time?"


Sunday, October 01, 2023

What to do when your child lies to you

Children lie sometimes. But not all lies are alike. If your elementary schooler tells an obvious lie to avoid trouble, calmly say that you expect your child to tell the truth. When your child admits to lying, say you appreciate the honesty, but your child must still do (or not do) whatever was lied about. If your child lies to create excitement, explain why it's better to tell the truth. But if your child lies often and seems not to care, seek help from a school counselor or other professional.


eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for September 2023

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Simple ways you can help with writing

How can you help when your elementary schooler has a writing assignment? It's fine to help your child brainstorm about a topic, but let your child do the choosing. You can also answer a question or two about how to spell a word, and offer praise when your child uses interesting words appropriately. Then, encourage your student to find and fix errors ("I see a place in the first paragraph where a sentence should end. Can you find it?"). Finally, urge your child to write a neat final copy.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Teach techniques for calming down

Children who don't know how to calm down when they are upset can develop academic and social problems. If stress, disappointment or hurt feelings have your child worked up, teach some coping strategies: Your child could go to a bedroom to regroup. Or could share feelings with a trusted person. Tackling a chore can help your child burn off energy and feel good about completing a task. And your child can always ask you for a hug.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Celebrate, support and reconnect at bedtime

Is your family trying to do so many things that it is hard to keep track of one another, even in the same house? Stay connected by gathering each night in a bedroom. Take turns sharing one positive thing from your day. Share a least favorite thing, too. Your family will be able to celebrate the positives together and help one another deal with any tough stuff that comes along.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

A bookmark can help your child read smoothly

To help your child improve choppy, disconnected reading, get out a straight-edged bookmark. Placing the bookmark under a sentence will help your child learn to scan the entire line instead of reading word by word. Don't worry about the bookmark becoming a crutch. When it is no longer needed, your child will set it aside. Taking it away too soon won't help.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Explain that effort is the way to get smarter

One of the most important messages you can give your child is "Smart is not something you just are. Smart is something you can get." Children who are willing to work hard at a subject often learn more and better than bright students who don't apply themselves. By studying, practicing and learning from their mistakes, they get smarter, and their successes lead to more success.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Support new readers by taking turns

If your child is just starting to read, encourage practice by playing "I Read, You Read." Choose a book your child can read. You read a sentence aloud, then have your child read it back to you. You can also read all but the last word in a sentence and have your child supply the missing word. As your child's reading skills improve, try reading one page and having your student read the next.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Connect school to your child's interests

To help your child understand the value of education, connect it to things your student is interested in. Ask your child to tell you about favorite activities, then ask, "How can school help?" Together, brainstorm some answers. For example, if your child says, "I like to watch cartoons," the answer might be, "School can help me learn how to draw and how animation is done."

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Feed your child's brain every morning

Students who eat breakfast have more energy, work faster, concentrate better and score higher on tests than those who don't. To make sure your child gets a healthy breakfast, keep easy-to-make items on hand, such as microwavable oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. Serve "fast fruits," like apples and bananas. If your child doesn't like breakfast food, try non-traditional items, such as peanut butter sandwiches or soup.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Men, be a reading role model

Reading tests often show that boys lag behind girls in reading. One reason may be that moms do more reading aloud and elementary school teachers are often women. So boys may associate reading with women and school. Fathers, uncles and grandfathers can encourage boys to read by showing them that books are for men, too. Give reading with your children as much time as you do sports or other activities.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

When writing is fun, it doesn't seem like work

Strong writing takes practice. Here are some ways to get your child writing more without making it seem like work: Ask your child to write funny captions for family photos. You could also ask for a list of things your child would like as birthday gifts, or the school rules your student would make. Suggest that your child write to a friend or relative. Or stimulate creative thinking by asking your child to write a short story about spending 100 dollars.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Reinforce rules that improve learning for all

Teachers can't teach if they are busy managing student misbehavior. Support your child's teacher by reinforcing school rules at home: Teach your child to show respect for people and property. Do not tolerate inappropriate language. Then, discuss the importance of following directions, and explain that your child should avoid behaviors that distract the class from learning.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

When is it time to contact the teacher?

Your child is complaining about schoolwork again. Should you let the teacher know? Contact the teacher if your child regularly finds assignments too easy or too hard, or won't do them even when you've tried to provide motivation. Also let the teacher know if your child doesn't understand the instructions, even with your help. Discuss actions to take to help your child, and follow up to determine if they are working.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Motivate your child with a puzzle

If your child likes puzzles, use them as motivators! When your child is not around, make a puzzle by pasting a picture from a magazine onto cardboard and cutting it into pieces. Then, every time your child reads a book, or does schoolwork or a chore without being nagged, offer a puzzle piece. Each day will bring your child closer to solving the puzzle and seeing the picture.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Put your coin jar to use building math skills

Your jar of spare change is a great tool for helping your child learn math. Coins are useful for teaching skills such as sorting, for example. Have your child put all like coins in piles, or make piles that each equal a dollar. Provide estimation practice by asking your child to estimate how many coins there are. Use coins for word problems, too. If your child wants to buy a toy for $4.95, is there enough in the jar? If so, how much is left? If not, how much more is needed?

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Fit supporting the school into your schedule

How can you get involved and support students and the school if you work during school hours? There are so many ways to make a difference. For example, you can stay in touch with your child’s teacher and respond to school surveys. You may be able to offer career expertise or help translate for non-English speaking parents. Your participation helps in important ways and shows your child that education is a priority.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Discover ways to support science learning

Even if your child doesn't grow up to be a scientist, some knowledge of science will be necessary to understand a rapidly changing world. And even if you don't know much about science, you can help. Ask your child's teacher for suggestions for science activities you can do together at home. Find out about other ways to support science education, too, such as working with other families to gain local business support for the school's science program.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Start school day mornings on the right foot

A bad start on a school day morning can interfere with your child's learning. To set your elementary schooler up for a productive day, post a morning checklist so your child knows how to get ready without being told. Your student can use any extra morning time to read, study or play relaxed games. Or you can talk together about something about school that your child likes: the teacher, the book the class is reading, etc.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Practice asking six questions together

Children learn by asking questions. To teach your child to ask the kinds of questions that help children learn, choose an object in your home: a pair of jeans, for example. Explore this object with your child by asking questions that start with Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. (Who invented blue jeans? Where were they first made? When can you wear them?) Then, help your child research the answers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Use routines to establish helpful learning habits

You probably have lots of routines that make your life easier. Your child needs your help developing some, too. Here are three school success routines to help your child establish: 1. Have your child put everything needed for school the next day in a designated place in the evening to avoid a morning scramble. 2. Have your child work on assignments at the same time of day. 3. Read together for 20 minutes every day.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Finish the day on a positive note

A relaxing bedtime routine can help your child feel safe and secure in this sometimes uncertain world. Tuck your child in every night. This is an ideal time for you to share positive thoughts about your child. Your child can also share hopes and dreams with you. You can sing a bedtime song, or read a story aloud. Make this time a special time for you both.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Provide some responsibility practice

Responsibility can be learned. And the best way to teach it to children is to give them some responsibilities. Elementary school students are old enough to be responsible for getting up on time, completing assignments and a chore or two, treating others with respect and going to bed on time. Let your child know what you expect, and what the consequences will be for ignoring responsibilities.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Encouragement helps turn classmates into friends

When it comes to making friends at school, attitude makes a difference. Classmates like to be friends with children who accept them and build them up. Help your elementary schooler brainstorm a list of supportive statements, such as "Good answer!" "Nice try!" or "Great idea!" Use them at home. The more you use them with your child, the more likely your student will be to use them with classmates.

Friday, September 08, 2023

Give your child a checklist to encourage quality work

Establishing positive study habits will help your child get the most out of schoolwork. To encourage your child's best effort, offer this checklist. Before turning anything in, have your elementary schooler ask: Did I follow the directions? Is my work neat so the teacher can read it? Have I checked my spelling? Did I complete every step of each math problem? Have I shown and double-checked my work?

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Boost your child's ability to adapt and thrive

If school situations or rules have your child unsettled, boosting resilience will help. Start by listening to your student's concerns; your child may be worried about something different than you think. Then, point out your elementary schooler's strengths, and offer reminders of other challenges your child has handled successfully. As you go about your own life, model problem-solving by thinking out loud when you are deciding how to handle a situation.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Create a bright poster to keep goals in sight

Benjamin Franklin observed that people with clear goals seemed to be happier. He carried a list of his goals wherever he went. To encourage your child to follow Franklin's example, get some poster board and markers. Help your child develop two or three learning goals, then make a poster that spells them out. Hang the poster in a prominent place where your child will see it every day. When your child achieves a goal, celebrate together…and set some new goals.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Consider giving your child a seat at the conference table

Parent-teacher conferences are an important way to get specific information about how your child is doing in school. Sometimes, these meetings may include your child, too. Taking part can actually help students become more accountable for their own learning. Having everyone participate can also build a stronger bond between home and school. You, your child and the teacher will gain a shared understanding of what's expected, so you can work together effectively.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Study time can still be social

Children need a quiet place to study. But being sent to a bedroom to do schoolwork may feel like a punishment to your child. You don't want your student to rush through assignments just to be around people again. In that case, try allowing your child to do schoolwork at the kitchen table or in a room with others around. Just make sure the TV is off and there are no major distractions.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Review habits that help kids stay well

Student health and safety are a top priority for schools and families. Good nutrition, adequate rest and medical care help prevent illness, but one of the simplest ways you can keep your child healthy and learning is to teach effective hygiene. Make sure your child knows to wash hands frequently with soap, and to use hand sanitizer if soap isn't available. Make it clear that your child shouldn't share food, drinks, or clothing with other students. Then, if your child does get sick, follow school protocols for returning to schoo

Saturday, September 02, 2023

The 'power of one' makes a difference at school

You may not have time to volunteer at school regularly. But that doesn't mean you can't make a difference. All you need to do is look for one task you can do to help this year. It could be working on a fundraiser, chaperoning a field trip or recruiting volunteers for a project. Whatever it is, if you do one thing and every other parent does one thing, the school will have more than enough volunteers.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Learn how to contact key school personnel

Family-school communication is more important than ever. Families need to know who they can turn to with questions or concerns. Do you know the name of the school principal? Your child's counselor? The nurse? If not, call the office or look on the website to find out who they are and how to contact them. Introduce yourself when you are at school. Connecting with key people at school will make your child's education journey go more smoothly.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for August 2023

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Help your child practice reading to learn

Reading nonfiction is an important way students learn. A strong ability to remember what they read is essential. To strengthen this ability, encourage your elementary schooler to preview the text by reading the main headings and scanning the pictures. Next, your child should read the introduction, summary and any questions that follow the passage. Finally, have your student read the chapter itself in short sections, making sure to understand each section before moving on.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Develop your child's inner motivation

Students who are motivated only by the desire to get a good grade rarely do more than the minimum they need to earn it. But students who are motivated from within are more likely to stick with a task and retain what they've learned. At the start of project or reading assignment, discuss what your child wants to learn from it. Along the way, ask your child to share new knowledge and celebrate progress.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Name-calling is no joke

Children have called each other names for centuries. But it's wrong to think that there's nothing families or schools can or should do about it. Persistent name-calling, and name-calling with an intent to hurt, are forms of bullying. Teach your child that this behavior is hurtful. Don't accept "I was just joking," as an excuse. Voice your disapproval when you hear your child or anyone else putting another person down.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Start routines to make school mornings smoother

Getting back into school mode after a long summer break can be a challenge for some children. To help your child make the transition, establish some daily routines. Explain the tasks you want your child to do and post a schedule so your child knows what to do when. To further boost independence, use silent signals sometimes, such as a gentle touch on your student's shoulder to indicate that it's time to calm down or pay attention.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Reinforce the need for timeliness at school

Families juggle lots of commitments, and it isn't easy. But for success in school, it's important for your child to be in every class on time and ready to learn. Children who are on time are more inclined to take school seriously. On the other hand, allowing children to be late sends the message that school isn't that important and that rules can be broken. Reinforce the need for timeliness with your elementary schooler. Show how you plan ahead to be punctual, and make it clear that you expect your child to do the same.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Don't get stranded without a book

You have a long wait for an appointment, or a short car ride turns into a long standstill because of a flat tire. Whether you and your child are stuck for a few minutes or stranded for an hour, make the most of that time by reading. Keep a book or magazine stashed in the car or in a bag you take with you. It will provide a pleasant, productive way for you and your child to pass time during unexpected waits.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Provide opportunities to follow directions

Schoolwork and tests both require students to follow directions. To provide valuable practice, give your elementary schooler a detailed set of instructions for doing a task. (Baking a cake or making pizza from scratch is perfect.) Ask your child to read them out loud and circle the actions that are called for. Supervise as your child completes the task, then reread the directions together. Did your student follow them to the letter? If not, ask, "Can you figure out where you went wrong?"

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Here's an easy formula for helping with math

You can help your elementary schooler learn math even if you don't remember any of the math you took in school. Ask your child questions about math work, such as "How did you arrive at that answer?" or "Look at this page of problems. Do you see a pattern?" It's also helpful to involve your child in practical math at home, such as measuring. Then, encourage regular practice by establishing a daily routine that includes time for math.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Encourage a healthy body image

Were you critical of your looks when you were a child? Many kids feel uncomfortable about their physical appearance. To improve a poor body image, offer compliments. Even if you don't like an outfit or a haircut, there is probably something about your child's appearance you love. Say so. And don't make jokes about appearance or weight. Your child won't find them funny, and these jokes can be harmful.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Positive learning habits help kids prepare for success

Start the new school year off right by encouraging positive habits your elementary schooler can rely on all year long. Help your child set learning goals, for example. Then regularly ask, "What will you do today to help you reach your goal?" Learning to think ahead will also help your child. You might say, "I know you plan to write your report next weekend. But what if the weather is nice and you want to play outside? What do you think about writing some of it today?"

Monday, August 21, 2023

To support success, offer encouragement, not pressure

Learning is full of challenges and obstacles. Encouragement from families, rather than pressure, helps children face them. If your child feels stressed in the coming year, show that you care. Be available to listen. Respect your child's feelings, and explain that mistakes are just learning opportunities. Then help your child develop positive study habits. When studying is routine, it's easier to deal with the pressures of increasing workloads.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Make it easy for your child to be honest

You want your child to avoid stretching the truth and cheating in school. To encourage honesty, catch your child being honest and offer praise for telling the truth. Even if you don't like what you hear, avoid overreacting when your child is being honest with you. Say, "I appreciate your honesty." It's also important to give your child plenty of chances to be honest. If you doubt what your child is saying, say, "I'm having a hard time believing you right now," and allow your elementary schooler to change the answer.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Add a creative element to reading

Combining reading and creative activities develops your elementary schooler's imagination and keeps the reading interesting. Encourage your child to draw pictures of characters or scenes from a favorite story. You can also ask your child to make up songs about stories and books. For example, ask, "What might the three little pigs sing when the wolf is coming? How would the music sound?"

Friday, August 18, 2023

Three key school supplies don't come from a store

It's school supply season! But three key things your child needs for school success can't be bought: concentration, organization and motivation. To help your child acquire them, set a regular study time and create a place to read or work that is as distraction-free as possible. Teach your child to use calendars and checklists to keep track of responsibilities. Most importantly, talk together each day about school and the new skills and concepts your child is learning.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Wait out your child's stormy mood

A child's moods can be like weather at the beach. You expect a sunny day, but storm clouds appear out of nowhere. The best response is the same in both cases: Take cover. Your child needs to learn to express feelings in appropriate ways. So don't let an upset child engage you in an argument (one of you is likely to get your feelings hurt). Instead, say "We will talk about it later, when we are both calm."

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Hunt for letters in the kitchen

Young children often want to spend time in the kitchen when family members are cooking. Here's a game that will sharpen your child's observation skills and help with reading readiness, all while you fix a meal. Ask your child to find five A's, F's or M's. Your child can look on soup cans, the cat food or even the soap. Once finding letters becomes easy, move on to letter combinations or whole words.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Help your child set personal learning goals

Now is the perfect time to sit down with your child and agree on some broad goals for the new school year. Does your elementary schooler need to beef up math skills? What new things does your child want to learn? To provide motivation, make a goal scorecard: Have your child list on a chart the steps to take each marking period to accomplish the goal. You can add some small rewards your child will earn for completing each objective.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Review the rules that keep your child safe on the school bus

Make sure your elementary schooler knows the bus safety rules of the road. Your child should walk on the left side of the road when going to the bus stop and remain seated and quiet on the bus. Remind your child to avoid touching the doors and windows, and to keep hands and head inside the bus. Say that you expect your chlid to follow the bus driver's instructions and to avoid actions that could distract the driver.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Share a funny tidbit to boost interest in reading

If your child has access to books and other reading materials and still shows no interest in reading, show what fun your student is missing. Read some children's books your child might enjoy to yourself. Then, share a few teasers (interesting or funny tidbits from the books). You may find your child reaching for the books to give them a try! Keep it up by reading and discussing books on a wide range of subjects that might interest your child.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

It's time to get organized for learning

Organization makes it easier for students to do their best work. Help your child prepare for the new school year by setting up a study space with as few distractions as possible. Have your child keep supplies in a basket or bin nearby. Then, give your child some different colored folders and assign a color for each subject. Then, your elementary schooler can file handouts and schoolwork by subject and find things when it's time to study.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Shine a light on time zones

Conduct a time-zone demonstration to help your child understand why people in other parts of the world may be eating dinner when your family is just waking up. Here's how: Get a globe (or a ball) and have your child put a sticky note on your location. Turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on the globe. Explain that the sun lights only part of the ball at one time. As the Earth turns, sunlight hits different parts of the surface.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Set expectations that motivate success

Children care how their families view them, and they usually live up to expectations. So set expectations that will motivate your child's best efforts. As you prepare for the coming school year, make a list of high (but realistic) expectations for your child, such as working hard, turning in schoolwork on time, etc. Discuss it together. Once school starts, be consistent. Help your child take pride in progress and express your belief that your child will be successful in school.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Teach the basic rules of self-protection

Parents can't always be with their children, so they must teach them to protect themselves. Make sure your child can provide a full name, address and phone number, and knows whom it is safe to share this information with. Teach your child how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency, and what an emergency is. Review the safest routes to and from school, the bus stop and other frequently visited places. And explain that it's important to tell you if something someone does or says makes your child feel uneasy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Share a performance secret with your child

Athletes know that talking to themselves can help them perform better. It's true for students, too. Saying things out loud can help the brain tune out distractions. So if your child is doing a worksheet, for example, suggest reading the instructions out loud to boost concentration. When facing a challenge, your child can build self-confidence by saying, "I am a hard worker, and I am going to get this task done."

Monday, August 07, 2023

Don't throw away those grocery store ads

Grocery store ads are great for helping your child practice math skills. Look through the ads together and have your child cut out pictures of foods along with their prices. Now challenge your elementary schooler to create and solve word problems using the pictures. "Joey bought one pound of bananas for 50 cents. How much would two pounds of bananas cost?"

Sunday, August 06, 2023

It takes skills to plan a family trip

Here's a fun activity that combines map skills, research and math. Have your child pick a nearby attraction that would be fun to visit. Together, plan a pretend family trip. How would you get there? Help your child find maps and transportation schedules, and plot a route. How long would it take? What should the trip budget be? If possible, carry out the plan. Your child will be able to see whether the research was correct.

Saturday, August 05, 2023

Plan a special reading day

Every now and then, declare a Reading Day. Set the whole day aside for reading book after book. If your child is young, you can spend most of the day reading favorite books aloud (let your child choose what to read). If your child is older, Reading Day can be a day when each family member curls up with a favorite book and then shares the interesting parts during mealtimes.

Friday, August 04, 2023

What's special about your family?

All families are unique. That means your child has special things to be proud of. Find out what matters to your family. Give family members sheets of paper on which you've written: I'm proud that my family has a tradition of…; I'm proud that my family plans to…; I'm proud that my family works together to…; I'm proud that my family enjoys…. Have everyone fill in the blanks, then share the answers.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Record an audiobook with your child

Listening to audiobooks and reading along can help develop your child's reading fluency. And it's more fun if you make your own audiobooks together. Simply record yourself as you read a story to your child. Slow down and pronounce words carefully. Act out the character's voices. At the end of each page, have your child ring a bell. Later, when your elementary schooler listens and reads along, the bell will be the cue to turn the page.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Teach your child the best way to make friends

The best way for a child to make friends is to look for other kids who are seeking friendships, too. Encourage your child to look for signs of openness, such as smiling or making room for someone to sit down. Suggest that your child ask questions to show signs of interest. "I always see you with that case. What instrument do you play?" Then, remind your child to take it slow. New friendships need time and space to grow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Check for vision problems before school resumes

If your child's eyes aren't functioning properly, learning may suffer. Eye doctors encourage examinations for children who often lose their place while reading, avoid up-close work, or hold reading materials closer than normal. An exam is also warranted if your child complains of headaches, head-tilts while reading to use one eye only, or reverses letters and words when reading and writing.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for July 2023

Monday, July 31, 2023

What to say when the news is scary

Scary things happen in the world, but families can help children process frightening news. Monitor what your child sees and hears on the news. If your elementary schooler is frightened, find out what your child already knows. Kids' fears may be very different from the truth. Explain that you and other adults will do all you can to keep your child safe, and point out the people who help in scary situations. By listening, you show your child that you are a safe person to talk to about anything.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Get set before giving your child a pet

Caring for a pet can build children's sense of responsibility, but only if they are capable of following through. Before agreeing to your child's request for a pet, talk about the responsibility involved. Discuss the specific tasks your child will be responsible for together. If you think your child is ready to carry them out, make it easier by linking the tasks to daily events in your elementary schooler's life. "The cat gets fed before you eat breakfast."

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Help your child learn from disappointment

You can't protect your child from disappointments. But you can teach how to cope with them, and even grow from them. First, ask how your child is feeling, and acknowledge the feelings. Then ask questions about what happened, so your child can understand the experience. Don't try to "fix things" for your elementary schooler. Instead, help your child explore options by asking "what if?" questions.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Establish a school-year sleep routine now

Getting your child into an effective sleep routine now will make school day mornings easier in the fall. Set a bedtime, and stick to it every night. Children who stay up later on weekends have more trouble resetting their internal clock on Mondays. Be sure to build in some quiet time before bed, when your child can read. And don't negotiate. If bedtime is 8:45, don't give in to pleas of "five more minutes."

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Try Grandma's rule for good behavior

It is important to establish clear guidelines for your child's behavior and to enforce consequences consistently. Ideally, consequences should be more positive than negative. Remember Grandma's rule: "When you have done what you are supposed to do, then you may do what you want to do." Always phrase it positively: "You can play a game when you finish your chores."

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Explore natural wonders on a micro-hike

Build your child's observation skills by taking a micro-hike together. Have your child lay a three- to five-foot piece of string on the ground outdoors. Provide a magnifying glass, and say, "Imagine you are the size of an ant." Then have your child follow the string trail and observe tiny details. Ask questions like: What kind of world are you traveling through? Who are your nearest neighbors? Are they friendly?

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Build a word bridge to better reading

Word bridges link letters and develop reading fluency. Play this game with your child: Write the letters of a word, such as FRAME, vertically. A few spaces to the right, write the letters in reverse order (EMARF) vertically, so the two columns of letters line up. Now, challenge your child to fill in the spaces to make words. For example, putting an R and an E between the F and E makes FREE. Keep a dictionary handy for ideas.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Story starters spark creative thinking

The words "I'm bored!" often mean that whining, fighting and trouble are on the way. To spark your child's creativity and promote thinking, make a list of story starters. For example, "When I opened the door, I got the surprise of my life," or, "Once there lived a child whose life would have been perfect except for one thing." Then give a starter and have your child use it to write a story or play or paint a picture.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Recycle worksheets and revive your child's skills

Keep school skills sharp this summer by pulling out some of your child's papers or worksheets from the recent school year. Math, science and reading papers are especially useful. Once a week, have your child redo some of the work. This summer school time will help reinforce the material in your child's mind, and you'll have some time to do other things while your student works.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Help your child understand more about fairness

Is "No fair!" your child's favorite phrase? Use it to talk about what fairness involves. For example, fair doesn't always mean equal. An older child may have more freedom. A younger one might have fewer responsibilities. Sometimes fairness involves compromise, so look for times when you can meet your child halfway. Ask, "What do you think would make it fair?" and use any of your child's ideas that are realistic.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Use familiar items to make geography relevant

Where do your elementary schooler's blue jeans come from? How about the foods on the breakfast table? Help your child think about geography by mapping the products your family uses. Display a map of the country or the world. Then have your child write the name of each item on a sticky note and use it to mark the place on the map that the item came from. Together, read more about those places and the people who live there.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Explore possibilities with family puppets

Boost creativity and communication by making family puppets with your child. First, make copies of photos of your family members. Then cut out the heads and glue them to craft sticks. Help your child cut out pictures of clothes from catalogs or magazines and attach them to the sticks. Your family can use the puppets to act out how you have dealt with a problem or conflict. Then, see if you can act out a better approach.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Add to math skills with a coin game

Play this simple game to boost your child's addition skills and teach a little about money. Hide several coins under your hand on a table. Tell your child how many coins you are hiding and what they add up to. Then ask your elementary schooler to guess which coins you have. Leave a selection of additional coins on the table so your child can try different combinations to come up with the right answer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Make rules work for you and your child

Things go much more smoothly at home and everywhere else when children know the rules. To make your rules effective, concentrate on what you want your child to do, not what you don't want to see. Offer your child choices you can live with. Be sure your elementary schooler understands your expectations, and enforce limits consistently. Then, when you see positive behavior from your child, praise it.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Let reading take you to unusual places

Doing the same things the same way every day can get dull. But it is important to read every day with your child. To keep it interesting, find unusual places to read. You could read in the bathroom or under a tree. Or create a secret reading hideaway by tossing a sheet over a clothesline. Consider having a "most unusual place to read" contest, and take pictures of family members in their creative spots.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Show your child what it takes to run a family

Parents often take care of family responsibilities that their children aren't aware of. Help your child see what it takes to run your household by making a family responsibility chart. Include the name of the person responsible for each chore, including yourself. As a family, discuss ways to improve and share these job assignments. Contributing will put your child on the path to capable, responsible adulthood.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Instill healthy habits now to be ready for fall

The summer is the perfect time to establish some healthy habits that support school success. Clean hands are important for staying healthy, so together, practice really thorough hand washing. If your elementary schooler tends to skip breakfast, reestablish the habit by letting your child experiment with unusual foods. Use summer's longer days to encourage active outdoor activities (wearing plenty of sunscreen!), then stick to a regular bedtime.

Friday, July 14, 2023

One wet penny buys a lot of science fun

How many drops of water will fit on a penny without running off? Challenge your elementary schooler to find out. First, ask your child to make a prediction. Then give your child a penny, a glass of water and an eyedropper (a straw will work if you don't have an eyedropper). If your student works slowly it's possible to get as many as 24 drops on the penny. Repeat the experiment. Does your child get the same number?

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Recognize the patterns that are all around

Pattern recognition is an important math skill, and developing it can be fun for your whole family. Look around your home for patterns. Is there one in the floor? The bedspread? Then take a walk with your child to look for patterns in nature. Look at the way leaves are arranged. Examine petals on flowers. Count spots on butterfly wings. How many patterns can your family create with rocks, twigs and other natural objects?

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Count on math to make car trips fun

Here's a fun game that will reinforce your child's grasp of addition and make any car ride fun. Point out an approaching car and have everyone guess how many passengers will be inside. A correct guess earns as many points as there are passengers. Put your child in charge of score-keeping. The player with the most points at the end of the ride wins.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Help your child avoid tantrum triggers

When children don't have the skills to cope with feelings or situations, they often resort to toddler-style outbursts. Try to figure out what triggers your elementary schooler's tantrums. Where possible, help your child avoid those situations. And when you see a tantrum coming, help your child practice some calming techniques, like deep breathing while counting to 10, or saying "I can work through this."

Monday, July 10, 2023

Homemade puzzles give your child the big picture

When children put puzzles together, they build skills that are also useful in math and reading. Puzzles teach logic, pattern recognition and spatial thinking. They also develop children's ability to envision a complete unit when looking at a fragment. To make puzzles at home with your child, cut out pictures from magazines or advertisements. Glue them onto cardboard and cut the pictures into puzzle pieces. Then mix them up and let your child get puzzling!

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Your time is a priceless gift

Here's an idea for a gift for your child that's worth a million bucks, but that doesn't cost a dime. All you have to do is ask your child: "What do you want me to give you that money can't buy?" Children usually have simple requests, like "Read to me more," or "Teach me how to…." Most of their responses simply mean, "Pay more attention to me."

Saturday, July 08, 2023

Let your child see you learning

To motivate your child's desire to learn, be a learner yourself. Show your elementary schooler that you enjoy reading. Watch educational programs. Tackle projects that involve learning new skills. Demonstrate curiosity, then talk about your new ideas or discoveries with your child.

Friday, July 07, 2023

Spanking children is never appropriate

The purpose of discipline is to teach. In studies, children whose parents didn't use physical punishment scored higher on tests of their ability to learn than kids who were spanked. The non-spanking parents talked with their children more. When your child does something wrong, talk about what it was. Explain why it was wrong and what your child should do differently in the future.

Thursday, July 06, 2023

A comparison game teaches logical thinking

You can't force your child to think logically, but you can teach logical thinking. Here's a game to try with your child. Name two objects. For example, a red sock and a blue sock. Ask your child how they are alike and how they are different. If that's too easy, challenge your student by picking items that don't have much in common, such as a banana and a barbell. (Both start with B. Both can make you strong.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Support your child through stressful times

Constant stress takes a toll on family life and on children. To reduce the effects of stress on your child, start the day with pleasant words and calm routines. Make a point of slowing down when you interact together. Give your child chances to solve problems independently. And when you must correct behavior, make it clear that you love your child, no matter what.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Put on a family play

If you've been relying heavily on screen entertainment lately, take a night off and produce the entertainment yourselves. You can find free play scripts for children online. Choose one that your child will enjoy, and print several copies. Then gather family members to read the play aloud together. Or, if your children are older, they can put on the play while the adults act as the audience.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Help your child learn to be a good sport

Whether your child participates in organized sports or just plays casually, reinforce one of sports' most important lessons: what it means to be a good sport. Remind your child that fun should come first. If everyone is having fun, winning and losing don't seem so important. When you play games together, discourage gloating or pouting, and say something positive after every game, no matter who wins or loses.

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Choose books that develop character

Your elementary schooler is learning about friendship, compassion, honesty, responsibility, courage and more. To reinforce the lessons, read books together which address these values. Some to try: Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds (ages 4 to 8). The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein (6-10). Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm (9-12).

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Math riddles are a fun challenge

Can you think of a way to write a math problem whose answer is 3 by using only the number 2? Here's one way: (2 + 2 + 2) ÷ 2 = 3. Challenge your child to think of other math problems like this. It's a good way to use the last five minutes of a math study session, or to pass any time you spend together waiting for something else to happen.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for June 2023

Friday, June 30, 2023

Keep math skills from sliding this summer

Students who don't do math over the summer risk losing months of skills. Helping your elementary schooler practice math skills all summer is critical. Here are just a few fun ways to add math to your child's day: Have your child use a map key to calculate the distance between home and the places you go, then track the actual mileage. Add the digits on license plates outside and see who can get to 100 first. Play cards and board games that use number skills.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Say 'You can do it,' and your child probably will

Children often say they can't do something—even before they try. What they need most is a little encouragement. Express confidence in your child's ability to learn. Say things like: "Just try it. You're usually good at this kind of thing." "This is challenging, but I know you can do it if you don't give up." "You've learned hard things before, and I'll be here if you need me."

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Listening shows you care what your child thinks

A positive self-image helps give children the courage to take on challenges. One way to boost this sense is to listen when your child talks. You don't always have to agree with what your child says. Just by listening, you help your student feel respected. Make eye contact, nod and smile, avoid interrupting. Then let your child know you expect the same treatment when you're talking!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Clear rules help eliminate arguments

You have a better chance of eliminating conflict between you and your child if you pick a calm, unhurried time to discuss any issue you are having. Then agree on a rule to address the issue in the future. For example, your child must read before having recreational screen time. Post the rule where you both can see it. When the situation next arises, you can just point to the rule and avoid an argument.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Combine a fitness walk with a family talk

Regular exercise is proven to boost learning. So is family engagement in education. But finding time for both when you are also working can be a challenge. Here's a suggestion: Combine a fitness walk with a family talk. Each evening, set aside 30 minutes for a brisk walk with your family. During this time, you can reconnect and catch up on what your child is learning and thinking about.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Some children need help making friends

Making friends isn't always easy for many kids. They sometimes act like someone else or do strange things to be popular. Remind your child that the key to making friends is to "Be yourself." Then suggest keeping a journal. In it, your child can practice expressing feelings and ideas before sharing them with others. You can also talk to your elementary schooler about your own childhood friendships. And if shyness is a barrier, look for ways for your child to meet other shy children.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Smooth the move to middle school

Will your child be starting middle school in the fall? To ease the transition, begin to prepare now. Together, learn about the new school. Read its website regularly, and look for summer activities for rising middle schoolers, such as reading and orientation programs. At home, help your child keep up reading and math skills with frequent practice. Discuss your student's hopes and concerns about middle school, and make it clear you will support your child in this exciting next step.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Learning to sew might just improve your child's writing

Kids' clothes always seem to need a new button or patch. Teaching children to mend their clothes encourages them to take responsibility for them. And there's another plus: Your child also develops the small motor coordination needed for writing neatly and easily. Demonstrate a sewing task, then let your child do a repair job on a piece of clothing. With practice, your elementary schooler will build skills and strengthen writing muscles.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Maximize the positive effects of reading at home

Reading at home boosts academic achievement. To make it a positive experience, look for high-interest books at the library with your child and refresh your supply often. Then read them together. If your elementary schooler struggles with reading, take turns reading sentences. Pause from time to time and ask thought-provoking questions (What do you think will happen next?). Your child is more likely to be interested in reading if you set an example by reading often yourself.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Try a soapy solution to stop quarrels

The ability to put aside anger and cooperate with others is important for school success. If your children are squabbling, try this solution: Wash away anger by washing windows. Put one child on the inside of a ground-floor window and the other child on the outside. They must wash the same window at the same time. By the time they're done, they'll probably be too busy laughing at each other to be angry.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Assign your child a chore or two

Chores teach children responsibility and the satisfaction that comes from making a meaningful contribution. Consider assigning your child one or two age-appropriate tasks. Be sure to explain each step, so your child will know exactly what you expect. Elementary schoolers can: Put away clean laundry. Wash dishes. Water plants. Help change sheets. Read to younger siblings. Help with projects around the house.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Homemade clay is a recipe for creative fun

Young children love to play with clay. They can squish it and pound it and form it into fascinating shapes. To make clay at home, prepare this recipe with your child: Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and a drop of food coloring. Cook and stir over medium heat until a soft ball forms. Let cool, knead and play!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Discover an alphabet of details in a picture

Strong students pay attention to details. Try this with your child to help foster this skill: Find a picture with lots of detail, and put it where you can both see it. Give your child and yourself a sheet of paper, and each of you write the letters of the alphabet down the left side. The goal is to find something in the picture that begins with each letter. Who can come up with the most words in five minutes?

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Experiment with an egg

Try this science experiment with your child: Place a raw egg (in its shell) into a container with a lid. Pour in enough vinegar to cover the egg. Put the lid on. After two or three days, discard the vinegar. Touch the egg. Ask your child, "What do you think happened to the eggshell?" (It dissolved, leaving only the inner membrane to keep the egg together.) The rubbery egg can be gently bounced (from a low height) and squeezed.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Busy parents build connections in creative ways

How can busy parents maintain the close connections with their children that support school success? By getting creative. If you aren't home when your child gets home from school, call your child if possible to hear the day's news. If you're out of town, ask your child to photograph activities so you can catch up on your return. Or, keep a family log book where you all jot down thoughts, triumphs and concerns.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Expose your child to real-world math

You don't have to be a math whiz to build your elementary schooler's math skills. Just involve your child in the kinds of math you can do easily at home. Have your student help when you need to measure something. Have your child estimate the distance and time to get somewhere, then check to see if the estimate was correct. Suggest that your student make graphs of the colors of cars in a parking lot. Then do it again on another day and compare.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Put senses to use to learn new words

To help your elementary schooler learn to spell new words, write each word on an index card. Then, ask your child to look at a word and spell it out loud three times. Have your child "take a mental picture" of the word and put the card away and spell the word three times with eyes closed. Next, have your child write it with a finger in salt spread out on a cookie sheet. Finally, your child can check the spelling against the index card.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

A lot of learning can happen in a little time

Parents these days have a lot of responsibilities to juggle. Fortunately, many learning activities can fit into small blocks of time. It doesn't take long to: Look up a new word in the dictionary with your child. Help your child locate places mentioned in the news on a map. Quiz each other on math facts. Review schoolwork or demonstrate an organization technique, like using a calendar to track commitments.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Choose a nickname that's a sign of strength

Giving your child a special nickname can reinforce positive character traits. Discuss your child's greatest character strength and how it will help in life. Then find out how to say the strength in another language, and turn it into a name. For example, a brave child might be called "El Valiente." When your child shows that strength, use the nickname. Explain what it means. If your child likes the name, it may stick.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Point out the positive side of mistakes and failures

Children need to learn how to handle failure if they are to succeed. If your child is facing up to a failure and is unhappy, don't try to minimize the feelings. Instead, explain that mistakes give us information that allows us to make necessary changes and get smarter. You can also talk about what you've learned from your own failures. Above all, don't allow your child to lower personal expectations.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Try a journal project with a dreamy theme

Keeping a journal gives children writing practice, helps them learn to express themselves and promotes self-exploration. To make it interesting, suggest that your elementary schooler keep a dream diary. Your child can write down (or dictate) the previous night's dreams each morning. Encourage your student to include lots of details, but don't try to interpret the dreams. Instead, ask questions like, "What does that make you think of?" and "Do you ever feel like that when you're awake?"

Friday, June 09, 2023

Focus attention on following directions

Does your child seem forgetful, absent-minded or irresponsible when you give directions? An ability to focus on instructions and carry them out is important for school success. To help your child concentrate, reduce distractions when you speak. Turn off the TV. Say things like "I know it's sometimes hard to pay attention, but I need to see your eyes when I'm talking to you." Then keep your instructions short.

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Play a family conversation game

Dinnertime conversations, where everyone talks and listens to one another, build your child's vocabulary, social skills and family ties. But sometimes children need help taking part in family conversations. Make a game of it. Have each person tell a story about their day and include one thing that isn't true. Then take turns guessing which thing it is.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Summer routines help your child stay school-ready

Keeping up school success routines throughout the summer is an effective way to support academic achievement. Reading, for example, is a skill that children must practice continually or it will get rusty. Set aside 30 minutes each day for quiet reading with your child. Be sure your child's daily summer routines also include physical activity and household responsibilities.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Send your child on a number hunt

To help your young child recognize numbers and some of the ways people use them, have a number hunt. Choose a number, such as 12. Write it on a piece of paper. Now challenge your student to find that number somewhere in your home. Your child might find it on the clock or on a can in your cupboard. Talk about what it represents. Then it's your child's turn to write down a number and send you on a number hunt.

Monday, June 05, 2023

Sharpen skills with a creative writing game

Writers are careful observers. Here's a fun way to help your children build observation and writing skills. Bring some pencils and paper on a walk. Set a time limit, then challenge your kids to write down words for things they see around them (building, tree, etc.). They can also include descriptive words like tall or gray. When the time is up, see who can turn their word collection into the most creative sentence.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Bird watching is science in action

To help your child connect with science, suggest keeping a record of the birds in your neighborhood. Your child can draw them, write descriptions or take pictures. While your student is at it, discuss ways humans and birds are similar. You might ask, "Do you think baby birds are afraid when they learn to fly? Are there things you might be afraid to do but know you need to learn?" Help your child go online to identify and learn more about birds in your area.

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Promote reading with an advertising lesson

To put a positive spin on screen time, pay attention to the ads when you watch a TV show with your child. Talk together about the words advertisers use to get viewers to buy things. Then, challenge your child to make a commercial for a favorite book. What points would your child make? How will your child convince people to stay tuned? Have your elementary schooler practice the ad and then "sell" the book to the entire family the next time you watch TV.

Friday, June 02, 2023

A simple process encourages cooperation

Want to motivate your elementary schooler to do something? First, tell your child exactly what you expect. Next, link the behavior you want with something your child wants (that you're willing to deliver). "When your math is completed, we can play a game." Then keep your promise when your child does what you've asked (and not before!). Be sure to comment positively when your child cooperates the first time you ask.

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Manners matter, at home and at school

With all there is to teach your child these days, manners may not be high on your list. But in a classroom, one student's bad manners can make learning harder for everyone. To encourage respectful behavior, talk with your child about what it means to treat others the way your child would like to be treated. And when you are upset, let your child see you express your feelings calmly.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for May 2023

Wednesday, May 31, 202

Celebrate progress and set new goals

As the end of the school year approaches, take some time to review the highlights with your child. What was your elementary schooler's favorite project? In what subject did your child improve most? What book did your child most enjoy reading? Celebrate all the progress your student has made this year. Then look ahead. Brainstorm together about something your child would like to learn this summer. Plan ways to help your child achieve the goal.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Learning fractions is as easy as folding a napkin

Fractions can be fun to learn, particularly when kids can get their hands on them. To help your child see fractions in action, demonstrate how to fold paper towels or napkins into equal parts. Start with halves: How many ways can you each think of to fold the paper to create two equal halves? Move on to fourths, eighths and sixteenths. Let your child use a marker to label the fractions.

Monday, May 29, 2023

A time log can help make choices clear

Most of us don't have a clear idea of where all our time goes. To find out, set aside one week to keep a family time log. Every half hour, record how you and your child spend your time. At week's end, you will have a clear picture of where your time is going. Are you spending too much time on things that aren't priorities? When you know that, you can make choices that are best for you and your family.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

A party is an invitation to practice social skills

Kindness, consideration and friendliness don't always come naturally. One way to help older kids develop these traits is to let them "host" a party. Your child should invite people who will foster friendliness. Before the party, have a dress rehearsal. Review table manners and introduction methods. Help your child think of conversation-starting questions. The party will be a fun way to practice!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Your undivided attention is a priceless gift

Children crave their families' attention. It builds confidence that can help them face challenges. Experts recommend giving kids lots of GEMs: Genuine Encounter Moments. When your child has something to say, stop if you can and offer 100 percent of your attention. This is a GEM. Pretending to listen is not. Without GEMs, kids often start to misbehave. They would rather have negative attention than be ignored.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Turn laundry time into a science lesson

Doing laundry can be more than just a chore. It can also teach your child science skills, such as observing and classifying. Scientists notice details. Ask your child, "Does this towel feel different from that one? Why could that be?" Scientists also put things in groups. Help your child sort the laundry by color, size or family member. Then challenge your student to come up with a new way to "classify" clothes.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Give your child the confidence to speak up

Speaking in front of others, in a classroom or elsewhere, doesn't come naturally to all kids. But you can build your child's public speaking confidence by being an attentive listener. Start by paying attention when your child talks. Show your interest and make eye contact. Then be patient; don't interrupt to correct your student or give an opposing view. Let your child express a complete thought or opinion before you give yours.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ask your child to communicate in writing

When children are just beginning to write, they concentrate on correctly forming each letter. Later, they must learn to focus on clearly communicating their ideas. To provide some practice, ask your elementary schooler to communicate with you in writing. You might have your child write out step-by-step instructions for doing something, for example. When you follow the directions exactly, your child will find out just how clear the communication was.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Consider giving a screen allowance

An ordinary allowance teaches children to budget their money. A screen allowance teaches them to budget something more precious: their time. Each week, give your child an allotment of tickets, coupons or tokens each good for a half hour of approved recreational screen use. Help your child plan the week's screen activities in advance. If your child wants to watch something special, suggest "banking" some tokens beforehand.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Connect with neighbors to benefit kids

Children need family and friends to support them. It's worth the time to get acquainted with other adults, teens and children in your community. To begin, get to know the names of the other kids in your neighborhood. Greet them by name. Introduce yourself to their families, and work with them to provide a caring group of adults for all the neighborhood kids. Try organizing a picnic or other social event to bring families together.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Make a reading connection with your child

It is often difficult to know what your child is thinking about. One way to get clued in is by looking through magazines (or an online newsfeed) together. Notice which articles catch your child's attention. Is it the subject matter or the photographs? Discuss what interests your elementary schooler and why. Reading together this way helps keep you updated both on interests and how your child thinks.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Build a thoughtful pause into your responses

Before you answer your child's questions or intervene to correct behavior or a mistake, stop and take a deep breath. The short break will help you avoid answering questions or making decisions your child could answer or make independently if given enough time. Pausing will also help you avoid acting or replying without thinking and then having to apologize or change your mind.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Stage a newspaper scavenger hunt

Provide an introduction to what's in a newspaper by sending your child on a scavenger hunt through the pages (in print or online). Have your elementary schooler look for: Something to eat. Something to drink. Something to play with. Something to ride in or on. Something to wear. Something hot. Something cold. Something that makes your child frown. Something that makes your child smile. Younger kids can look for pictures, older kids for words.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

This game makes math patterns child's play

Improve your child's ability to recognize math patterns by playing the What's My Operation game. First, think of a simple math operation, such as "add 5" or "multiply by 3." Then, ask your child to say a number. Perform your operation silently and say the result out loud. For example, if you choose multiply by 3, when your child says 6, you say 18. Then your child says 4, and you say 12. After three rounds, can your student guess your operation? Now it's your child's turn.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Try a tasty science experiment

Here's a way to turn your child's interest in food into a learning experience: Put a little sugar on different parts of your elementary schooler's tongue. When does your child actually taste it? Repeat with lemon juice, salt and unsweetened chocolate. Can your child identify the places on the tongue where sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavors are tasted? Then, have your child suck on an ice cube and repeat the experiment. Does it make a difference?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Your child learns when you think out loud

Children learn by watching their parents. And when you talk about what you are thinking and doing, you make it easier for your child to learn. If you are cooking, for example, you might say, "I'm looking for a cake recipe. I don't have time to read all the recipes in this cookbook, so I'm going to turn to the index in the back. Here under the letter C is a recipe for chocolate cake." Your child will see how useful an alphabetized index is.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Help your child set a weekly learning goal

Having students set a weekly learning goal can motivate them to aim high and keep trying. It can also help families make sure students stay on track. Have your child choose a goal and post it on the refrigerator. Then, talk about what steps your elementary schooler will take to reach it. For example, a child who wants to finish a book could decide to read two chapters per day. During the week, check on your child's progress. If problems arise, help your child brainstorm possible solutions.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Ask questions that encourage self-improvement

If you say, "You could do better" when your child does a half-hearted job on an assignment, your child may hear, "You're not good enough." You don't need to praise your elementary schooler for a poor effort. But to motivate, it helps to begin by saying something positive about the work. Then, ask "Are you satisfied with your work? Do you think the assignment reflects the effort you put in? What would you do differently next time?" It's possible your child will say, "I could do better."

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Practice reading skills when watching movies

Want to strengthen your child's reading skills in a different way? Try "reading" a movie together. As you watch, encourage your elementary schooler to ask questions. Talk about the characters. Ask your child to predict what will happen next. When the movie is over, point out connections between the story and your child's experiences, and discuss what your student liked or didn't like, and why.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Motivate your child to behave well

Effective discipline teaches and motivates children to behave well. Help your elementary schooler understand your rules and the consequences for breaking them. Then enforce them consistently. Just as importantly, appreciate your child's efforts and positive behavior. Above all, make it clear that you always love your child, even when you don't love your child's behavior.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Use expectations to emphasize two key lessons

"Two of the most important lessons children can learn," wrote columnist William Raspberry, "are that they matter and that they are counted on." One way to show that your child matters is to set expectations. When you maintain a regular study time, for example, your child learns that education matters to you. Expecting your elementary schooler to fulfill age-appropriate responsibilities shows that you are counting on your child's capable contribution.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Play a multiplication game to build math and word skills

Help your child have fun with words and math by playing a calculator game. Assign each letter of the alphabet a number (A:1, B:2, etc.). Give your child a word to write in numbers using your code. Next, ask your student to use the calculator to multiply those numbers and find the word's product. Finally, challenge your child to look in a dictionary for the seven-letter word with the highest possible product.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Praise what you can when your child is struggling

Praise can motivate children to keep working when they are struggling with a subject. But sometimes it can be hard to know what to say. Children recognize false praise, so focus on something your child has done right. You might use phrases such as, "That was a good try" or "You've learned hard things before; I know you'll get it." If your child continues to struggle, let the teacher know.

Monday, May 08, 2023

Appreciate the effort that goes into education

May 8-12 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Take a moment to appreciate those who are working hard to fill pandemic learning gaps and help students succeed, starting with yourself. Then consider sending a thank-you note to a helpful teacher. When teachers and families are a supportive team, students thrive.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Hands-on practice helps kids tell time

Children see so many digital clocks that they can't always tell time on a clock with hands. Help your child practice by drawing a clock face on a paper plate and using two strips of paper for hands. Ask questions such as, "When you feed the dog at 8:00, where are the hands on the clock?" or "Where are the hands when school lets out at 3:30?" Let your child take control and move the hands to the correct time.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Use a diary to promote natural curiosity

Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Encourage that curiosity by helping your child keep a nature diary. Your elementary schooler can use words or pictures to record the plants, animals and insects seen out the window or in your yard or at the park. Have your student include the date and place of each sighting. Then, help your child research the finds online and add facts to the diary.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Battle obesity with screen-free activities

Childhood obesity is a major health issue, and TV and other screen devices are a part of the problem. In one study of overweight kids, researchers found that those who were encouraged to spend less time with screens lost weight. Set limits on recreational screen time, and encourage your child to engage in lots of active, screen-free activities.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Conduct an eye-opening science experiment

Give your child a glimpse into the way eyes work with this after-dark activity: Have your elementary schooler look in a bathroom mirror. What do your child's eyes look like? Next, turn off the light and ask your child to count to 20. Then turn the light back on and say, "Look at your pupils. Did they change size?" Explain that pupils get larger in the dark to let more light into the eye. When the light comes back on, pupils shrink.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

When you relax, your child will, too

Kids can suffer from stress just like adults. And that stress can have a negative impact on their studies, relationships and sleep. The first step in helping your child relax is to relax yourself. Move slowly and talk in a quiet voice. Sit in a comfortable place together. Close your eyes and listen to soothing music. Or take an imaginary trip by describing a peaceful place. Ask your child to imagine what you'll do there.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Encourage creative thinking with 'circular' stories

Telling "circular stories" is a fun way to get your child's creativity flowing. Gather family members and start a made-up story: "Once upon a time there was a knight who was sent by the king on a dangerous mission." After a sentence or two, it's the next person's turn to continue the tale. Keep going around the circle until the story is finished with the magic words "The End."

Monday, May 01, 2023

Teach your child to ask proofreading questions

Careless errors in writing can make your child's points unclear. Help your student give written work a final "once-over" before turning it in. Teach your child to ask: Is every sentence complete, beginning with a capital and ending with a punctuation mark? Does my paper say what I want it to? Have I checked the spelling? Have I used commas and apostrophes as needed? Is my writing legible? Is this my best work?

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for April 2023

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Learning happens when you include your child in your routines

You don't always have to set aside a block of time to teach your child. Just do the things you normally do, but do them together. Explain what you are doing. Let your child observe and ask questions. Let your child help you. Then ask questions that encourage thinking: "Why do you think I do it this way?" "If it takes 15 minutes for the food to cook, and we want to eat at 6:00, what time should we put it in the oven?"

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Help your child choose words that motivate

Let your child know that negative thoughts and words can actually make tough times worse. Words like "awful" and "horrible" are often exaggerations that can make disappointments seem like disasters. If you hear, "This math is impossible," help your child restate the situation: "This math is challenging, but I know I can figure it out."

Friday, April 28, 2023

A bedtime review can boost morning recall

After studying for a test, encourage your child to finish preparing by reviewing the most important information one more time right before going to bed. It shouldn't take long; 10 or 12 minutes should be enough. Your child's brain will keep thinking about the material even during sleep. The next day, your child may find the material easier to remember.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Consistency fosters self-discipline

Children develop self-discipline when they have a clear set of rules to stick to. When adults enforce the rules, kids may grumble, but they are usually relieved. Make your rules and expectations clear to your child, then be sure to offer praise when your elementary schooler lives up to them. And as your child demonstrates responsibility, allow more freedom.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Play a simple game to build pattern recognition skills

Pattern recognition is an important math skill. To help your child practice, play Guess the Pattern. Provide the first three numbers in a simple pattern (1, 3, 5), and ask your child to tell you what comes next (7). Allow a few guesses, then supply the answer. Take turns giving each other patterns. Start with simple ones, and increase the challenge as your child gets older and learns more math.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Help your child learn real-life lessons from TV

In real life, problems don't always get resolved in 30 minutes the way they often do on TV shows. But watching a show with your child can lead to a discussion about ways to solve problems in real life. After you watch together, turn off the show and talk. Was that the most effective way to solve the problem the characters faced? What else does your child think they could have done? Has your child ever faced a similar situation? What happened?

Monday, April 24, 2023

Use pictures to encourage creative writing

To strengthen creative writing skills, have your elementary schooler write a story based on pictures. Together, cut out interesting, unrelated pictures from catalogs, magazines or newspapers. Have your child choose four or five and tell you a story that links them together. (How does the tiger connect to the rocket?) Then, have your child write the story down. For variety, scramble the picture order and ask your child to tell a new story.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Specific questions keep communication flowing

If you worry about whether you'll still be able to talk together when your child is a teen, you're not alone. Worrying won't help, but establishing effective communication habits will. Listen whenever your child wants to talk. One way to encourage a quiet child to talk is to ask specific questions, such as "What was the most unusual thing that happened today?" Start with questions that aren't threatening, like "What do you think of this picture in the catalog?"

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Pop some popcorn for tasty math practice

Grab some popcorn and improve your child's math skills! Ask your child to estimate how many popped kernels will fill a drinking glass. Then count. Refill the glass with popcorn and ask your elementary schooler to find three things that are lighter and three things that are heavier. Then weigh the items to check. Finally, have your child estimate how many popped kernels will fill a favorite popcorn bowl. Count and enjoy!

Friday, April 21, 2023

Sharpen skills with a grocery list

To provide reading and writing practice, ask your elementary schooler to write your grocery list. Name the items you need, and challenge your child to sound out the words before you help with spelling them. When you bring the groceries home, can your child match the words on the list with the words on the items? Your child will build skills and feel competent every time you ask for help making a list you can take to the store.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Promote learning with a handmade gift

If a relative has a birthday coming up, help your child make a birthday scrapbook as a gift. Your student can research the birthday person by writing or emailing other relatives for stories, quotes, memories and photographs. Then your child can decide which material is most important, design a layout and write photo captions. The recipient will treasure a handmade gift, and your child will gain research and writing skills.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Experiment with science in the kitchen

Get some ground black pepper, dish soap, a bowl and some toothpicks and try this fun science experiment with your child: Fill the bowl with water. Sprinkle a little pepper on top. Have your child dip a toothpick into the center of the pepper. What happens? (Not much.) What happens if you put a drop of dish soap on the toothpick first? (The pepper moves quickly to the sides of the bowl.) Explain that this is because the soap breaks the surface tension of the water.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Acknowledging feelings helps your child manage them

Sometimes when children have a problem, what they need most is for a parent or loved one to say, "I can see how upset you are." With those few words, you make it clear that you understand your child is feeling sad or frustrated. That gives your elementary schooler some choices. Instead of just trying to get big feelings across, your child can tell you more about the problem, ask for your help, or begin to look for a solution independently.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Ask questions that help your child find solutions

Your child is doing a math assignment and is stuck. How can you help your elementary schooler solve the problem without doing it yourself? Get your child talking. Ask what your student knows about this type of problem. Then have your child explain the work so far. Has your child done any problems like this before? Often children will suddenly say, "Oh, I see. I divided when I should have multiplied."

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Ask questions to help your child read unfamiliar words

When your child is reading and gets stuck on an unfamiliar word, ask questions to help your student sound it out: "What sound does the first letter make?…What sound does the last letter make?...Are there any letter combinations you recognize in the word? What sounds do they make?" Have your child point to each letter in order and slowly say the sound it makes, then blend them together faster.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Guide your child's online research sessions

Your child may have grown up around computers, but elementary schoolers are just beginning to learn how to find reliable sources of information online. Supervise when your child is researching online. Explain that being listed first in a search doesn't mean a website is better. Discuss ways to figure out if a site is credible. Does it give facts, not opinions? Does it cite sources for information it presents? Can your child confirm the material on other sites?

Friday, April 14, 2023

Don't choose between chores and your child

If you struggle to get everything done and still have enough time to spend with your child, try giving your student your attention while you do your chores. Talk together while you cook or do yard work. Or have your child read a favorite story to you while you wash dishes. Your child will have your attention, and you'll still get the work done.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Study goals and short sessions build concentration

Setting goals for study sessions helps students focus and avoid distraction. At the start of your child's next study session, help your student set a goal for what to accomplish in 10 minutes. Set a timer, and when it goes off, check and see if your child has met the goal. Then set another goal for the next 10 minutes. Brain researchers know that children learn more in two short study sessions than in one long one.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Create a personal math connection

Children learn math more readily when it's concrete and personal. A measurement diary is both. To make one, write the earliest height and weight you have for your child in a notebook. Then, have your elementary schooler enter today's height and weight, as well as arm length, and neck, waist and head circumferences. Repeat these measurements each month, and have your child compare them to see the growth. At year's end, help your student put each month's information onto a graph.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Label the table to boost reading skills

If your child is a beginning reader, foster emerging skills by helping your student learn to recognize and spell the words for the familiar objects in your home. Write the names of everything in your child's room on paper labels and attach them to the matching objects. Then ask your child to spell "dresser," for example. At first, your child can go to the item and read the spelling from the label. After living with the labels for a while, your young reader probably won't have to.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Send a positive message about learning

Your actions tell your child many things about your attitude toward learning. Parents who don't look at the work their kids produce are sending the message, "Your work doesn't interest me." Checking only for errors says, "Smart people never make mistakes." Review schoolwork, and ask about what your child is learning. Send the message that your child can get smarter by working hard, and that smart people learn from their mistakes.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Use your eyes when correcting behavior

Children are more likely to do what they are asked if they are actually listening in the first place. To get your child's attention when correcting behavior, move in close. Say your child's name. Then look your child in the eye, and with a neutral expression and a calm voice, ask for the behavior you want. Hold eye contact for a moment after speaking. Your point will have been both made and heard.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Offer reading support three simple ways

If your child has difficulty with reading, here are three ways to help: First, pre-read the material and go over any words together that might give your child trouble. Second, stay close by to help with hard words. And third, as your elementary schooler reads, ask questions about the material, such as "Who is this story about?" and "Where does it take place?" Being able to answer may build your child's confidence about reading.

Friday, April 07, 2023

Communication helps prevent substance abuse

You may think there's plenty of time before you need to talk to your elementary schooler about substance abuse. This is not true. Young children are exposed to messages about drugs and alcohol in the media. The opioid crisis has devastated many families. Start discussing the dangers now. Ask what your child has heard, and make your rules clear: No drugs ever (unless prescribed for your child) and no underage drinking. Parent-child communication is so important that some experts call it the "anti-drug."

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Plan screen-free ways to manage your child's time

Experts agree that children need plenty of screen-free time for reading, schoolwork, exercise, play, family time and relaxing. One way to keep screen use in balance is to think about the times you rely on digital devices as babysitters for your child, and to come up with alternatives. For example, if you turn on a screen to occupy your child while you make dinner, try doing some advance meal preparation. Or, invite your elementary schooler into the kitchen to help you cook instead.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Remove hurtful words from your family's vocabulary

Many families have rules against swearing, but swear words aren't the only words that hurt. Take your rules a step further and don't allow family members to use insulting words, such as "dumb," "stupid" and "idiot," about themselves or anyone else. Your child will have to get creative to express frustration, and may even learn some new vocabulary!

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Can your child detect the mystery word?

The next time you and your child are stuck waiting, play a game of Word Detective. Choose a written word you can see from where you are (don't say it out loud), and give your child a clue about it, like "Things you wear on your feet." After your child finds the word "shoes," it's your student's turn to choose a word and give you a clue. You'll have fun and your elementary schooler will get extra practice recognizing words and phrases.

Monday, April 03, 2023

Avoid these common motivation mistakes

You want to motivate your child to do well academically. But saying the wrong thing can have the opposite effect. For example, avoid threats of punishment ("If you don't do an excellent job, there will be no screen time for a month.") Also avoid name-calling and nagging ("You're lazy and you'll never get into college if you don't straighten up!"), and comparisons to other people ("Your brother always got A's. What's wrong with you?").

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Take precautions when your child plays sports

You don't want your child to be one of the 3.5 million kids who get hurt annually playing sports. To promote safety, help your child stay physically fit. Make sure your player knows the basic skills of the sport and wears appropriate protective gear that fits. Have your child drink plenty of fluids and warm up and stretch before playing. And if an injury happens, don't encourage your child to "play through" it.

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Use reading to turn frowns upside down

April is National Humor Month! Give your child a chuckle or two by going online to find funny riddles, comics, stories and poems for children. Take turns reading them out loud to each other. Then, together, try to come up with your own silly poetry and stories. See how corny you can be!

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for March 2023

Friday, March 31, 2023

Help your child feel capable of doing hard things

Some kids are willing to try hard, even if the work is tough. Others give up before they get started. What's the difference? It's the kids who believe in their ability to succeed who stick with it. Make it clear that your child has what it takes to do well in school. Then remind your student that ability without effort won't get the job done. The combination gives your child the power to achieve goals.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Visit world-class museums without leaving home

Get your child excited about museums by taking an online tour of one of the world's great collections. Match your child's interests to the museum. A music lover can check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Or go to to explore history, science and culture galore at the many Smithsonian Institution museums. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is at

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Help your child avoid plagiarism problems

Plagiarism is copying information or original ideas directly from another source without giving credit. Explain to your child that copying word for word is cheating, and it often results in a failing grade. Tell your child to read the information in the sources and "Put it into your own words." If your student wants to use a sentence word for word, it must go in quotation marks and your child must give credit to the author.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Chores help children learn to handle responsibility

To encourage responsibility with chores, make sure your child has the skills and supplies necessary for the tasks. Next, consider your child's energy level; schedule chore time for a time when your elementary schooler isn't tired or busy. Then, let your child choose a chore from your list. Expect a good effort and timely completion, but don't require perfection. Just thank your child for helping the family!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Take a creative approach to problem-solving

Children learn creativity by watching others. And when kids learn that there are often many ways to solve a problem, they learn to think creatively and become better problem solvers. So let your child see you tackle problems in different ways. Regularly create new solutions for old problems. Your child will learn that fresh thinking can turn up new (and sometimes better) approaches.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Try three ways to help your child relax

If your child is under stress, help manage it in positive ways. Humor is a great way to help children forget frustration. Together, try singing a few silly songs. You might also leave a funny cartoon at your child's place at the breakfast table. Exercise is another effective stress-reliever. And helping others can also provide perspective and make your child feel better. Together, brainstorm ways to lend a helping hand.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Practice spelling a tasty way

Baking alphabet cookies is a sweet way to encourage your young reader to enjoy spelling. Any cookie dough that can be cut into shapes will work. If you don't have alphabet cookie cutters, let your child "write" letters on rolled-out dough with a clean finger. You can then cut around the marks with a knife. Help your child make enough cookies to spell out words. Try it with a few spelling words!

Friday, March 24, 2023

Sing songs about places…then find out more

Many great songs mention real places. When you sing a song like "This Land is Your Land" with your child, talk about the places in it. Look them up on a map. "London Bridge is Falling Down" is about a real bridge in London, England (one version of which is now in Arizona). Help your child find out more about it. The next time you take a long trip, pass time by singing as many "geography" songs as you can.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Family life makes a great bedtime story

Telling bedtime stories is a great way to connect with your child and promote responsible, caring behavior. For an endless source of new story ideas, try making the characters' names rhyme with family members' names. Then you can tell stories from your lives that teach the lessons you want. Characters could realize the effect their behavior has on others, or model sharing without fighting, for example.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Use report cards as conversation starters

Whether your child's report card is great or shows a need for improvement, use it to enhance your communication with your child and the school. First, talk to your child. Were any grades a surprise? Did any make your child proud? What does your student want to improve? Then, if you have questions, contact the teacher to discuss them. Two-way communication with the school strengthens teamwork…and that helps your child.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Take steps before leaving your preteen at home alone

While young children should never be left at home alone, sometimes families leave preteens on their own for short periods of time. Preparation can help this go smoothly. Before you leave, make sure your child knows how to reach you. Review what to do in case of fire or other emergency. Discuss how your child should handle phone calls and a knock at the door. It's also wise to talk about who, if anyone, is allowed in the house and whether your child is allowed to go out.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Strengthen writing skills and family ties with a newsletter

Are your relatives far away? Your child can keep everyone updated on family activities while building writing skills by putting together a family newsletter. Have your elementary schooler write letters or emails to ask relatives for news, family stories and photos. Then your child can use a computer at home or at the library to compile their replies. Your student will gain keyboarding, writing and layout skills, and the joy of keeping the family connected.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Eliminate supply hunts at study time

If statements like "I can't find a ruler" and "I can't do my social studies until I find my colored pencils" are common delay tactics at study time, help your child create a schoolwork kit. Collect tape, glue, rulers, pencils and other supplies and put them in a tray tote or a basket. The container is off limits unless your child is doing schoolwork. With everything in one place, your child won't waste time hunting.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Create a time line of your child's lifetime

A time line is a graphic way to help children connect world history to their own personal history. To help your child make one, stretch a roll of paper along the floor. Have your child draw a line horizontally across it. Above the line, write important dates in your elementary schooler's life, chronologically from left to right. Below the line, help your student do the same with historic events that have occurred since your child was born.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Show your child how to interact respectfully

When teaching your child to treat others with respect, showing is as important as telling.  Show your child that physical differences aren't the only way to identify people: "The man in the blue shirt" works just as well as "the man in the wheelchair." Speak of people as individuals, and avoid generalizations. Explain that everyone is worthy of respectful treatment, and that your child can always ask you questions and discuss differences with you privately.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Play a game of 'reverse tic-tac-toe'

Daily math practice doesn't have to be all work. Playing "reverse tic-tac-toe" is a fun way to help your child build skills for math success. In this version of the game, instead of trying to get three X's or O's in a row, your child tries to force you to do it. In order to win, your elementary schooler will have to think and plan ahead (both important skills for solving math problems).

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Keep little problems from becoming big ones

If your child is upset about something at school, don't ignore it. Left alone, the problem might get worse. Instead, ask your child to explain the situation. If you hear something like "the teacher hates me," avoid taking sides. Hear your child out and then contact the teacher. Calmly listen to what the teacher has to say, and explain how your child feels. Open communication will help you all work together to solve this and future matters.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Invite a cast of characters to a family dinner

Have fun with history and reading at a special dinner. Ask each family member to come as a historical figure or fictional character. They can wear costumes, but they shouldn't say who they are. To discover who has come to dinner, everyone should ask one another questions. Each person should speak and answer in character. Imagine a conversation between Ponce de Leon, Paddington and Susan B. Anthony!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Conversations can help prevent violence at school

Schools go to great lengths to keep kids safe. Families also have an important role to play. Talking to your child about safety issues on a regular basis is essential. Start a dialogue by asking questions such as, "What scares or frightens you?" "What makes you feel safe?" "What makes you angry?" "What ways can you think of to solve a problem without hurting someone?" and "How could you promote saftey at school?"

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Don't battle over fixing assignments

If you see that a school assignment includes wrong answers, don't insist that your child redo it until it's right. Instead, ask if your elementary schooler thinks the work is done correctly. If your child isn't sure and asks for help, you can give it. If your child is too frustrated to care, it's probably time for a break. Let your child decide whether to change an answer. Teachers need to see what students do and don't understand. If schoolwork struggles continue, work with the teacher to find a solution.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Inspire your child with real-life superheroes

Being a positive role model for your child is important. But don't stop there. Create a gallery of heroes for your child. Find pictures and stories of real people who have overcome great odds, starting with people in your family. Did someone persist in the face of obstacles, or give up a lot so you could get an education? Talk with your child about these heroes and what you both can learn from their example.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Build family closeness with Show and Tell

Show and Tell isn't just for school. It's also an effective way to encourage family conversations at home. Pick a night and choose a theme. Topics might include "something I'm proud of," "something I've made" and "one of my favorite memories." Have family members take turns showing and telling. Your child will get a safe opportunity to practice public speaking, and you will all learn more about one another.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Nurture your child's talents

Experts report that the most talented young people often have one thing in common: Their families supported their talents. To encourage your child's development, expect your elementary schooler's best effort. Look for ways to make practice time enjoyable. Show your interest by learning your child's sport or skill, or by attending your student's games, recitals or other activities. And most of all, support your child, win or lose.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Take time to enjoy small successes

Some children move from one project to the next without stopping to enjoy the good feeling that comes from a job well done. Help your elementary schooler take pride in the results of work. If your child makes a snack, you might say "It's good to enjoy what you've made, isn't it?" Display your child's art where others can see it. And set an example by letting your child see you stop and enjoy your own successes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Have your child create a practice test

There are many things your child can do to study for a test, but one of the best is to think like the teacher. Have your elementary schooler review class notes, then make a list of questions that might be on the test. Then your child can prepare to answer them. Chances are, some of your child's questions will show up on the test. Students feel confident going into tests if they've thought through the answers ahead of time.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Add to responsibility one day at a time

Here's a game to play with a calendar to encourage your child to act responsibly. Make a list of important daily behaviors—getting up on time, reading, tidying up. Let your child add a letter of the word "responsible" to the calendar each day after completing all tasks. When the calendar says R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-L-E, do something special together to celebrate.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Try a silent solution to encourage tidy habits

Help your elementary schooler learn that completing a task includes cleaning up afterward. If your child's messes get out of hand, announce that you are expecting a visit from the silent custodian. Your child should prepare by tidying up. Whatever isn't picked up by a time you set goes into a box marked "silent custodian." In order to get an item back, your child must complete a chore of your choice.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Name-calling is no joke

Kids have called each other names for centuries. But it's wrong to think that there's nothing families or schools can or should do about it. Persistent name-calling, and name-calling with an intent to hurt, are forms of bullying. Teach your child that this behavior is hurtful. Don't accept "I was just joking," as an excuse. Voice your disapproval when you hear your child or anyone else putting another person down.

Friday, March 03, 2023

The COPS checklist helps students catch writing errors

Before your child hands in a writing assignment, go through the COPS checklist for proofreading together. C is for capitalization. Does every sentence start with a capital letter? Are all the proper names capitalized? O is for overall appearance. Is the paper neat and easy to read? P is for punctuation. Are the sentences punctuated correctly? S is for spelling. Has your child checked any word that looks tricky in a dictionary?

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Take care of yourself so you can care for your child

Working parents are experts at juggling the demands of jobs and families. But to be the best help to your child, you must meet your own needs, too. Think of ways you can preserve your energy. You might relax for 15 minutes with a book or pursue a hobby. Getting enough sleep and regular exercise helps, too. And try to stay in touch with friends who can give you a listening ear when you need it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Discuss what to do after making a poor choice

Sometimes, children will make poor choices. It's what they do next that counts. Teach your elementary schooler these steps for recovering from a mistake: First, admit it. "I said there was no math assignment so I could go play at Jamie's house, but that wasn't true." Second, accept the consequences. "I'll have to do my schoolwork and stay at home this week." Third, make up for it. "I'll use that time to master math skills." Finally, learn from the experience. "Next time I'll do my schoolwork first!"

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for February 2023

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

You don't need to have all the answers

Parents sometimes worry that their children won't respect them if they don't have all the answers. But kids respect parents more when they admit they don't know something and say, "Let's find out." You don't have to answer questions immediately, either. If your child asks a difficult question when you are too busy to answer, say, "That's a good question. I'd like to think about it and get back to you at dinner." Then do.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Send your child on a hunt for different letter styles

Young writers can be confused by the different ways letters appear when printed. Is "a" the same as "A"? Look through old catalogs and newspapers with your child and cut out uppercase and lowercase letters in as many fonts and sizes as you can find. Help your child sort the letters and paste all the examples of each letter onto a separate index card. Your child will learn a variety of ways each letter can look.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Encourage table talk at family meals

Experts know that casual talk at the dinner table helps families connect. Children who feel close to their families are also less likely to take part in risky behavior. But conversation is impossible when everyone is focused on a screen. So turn off the TV and other devices during meals. Instead, encourage everyone to share a success. Your family dinners may shield your child from trouble later on.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Get to the bottom of underachievement

It is possible for very bright students to struggle in school. When your child's performance in school is well below your child's ability, it's time to take action. First, talk to the teacher. Your child may be bored. Could the teacher assign a project that might provide an interesting challenge? Work together to find solutions. Outside school, look for activities that develop your child's strengths. If the situation continues, ask a doctor how to find out if your child might have learning differences.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Use three jars to teach money management

Promote the savings habit by having your elementary schooler divide pocket money into three jars. The first jar is for change your child is free to spend as desired. The second jar is for saving for more expensive items that may take a few weeks or months to afford. The last jar is for long-term savings for big ticket items, like college, for example.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Emphasize the difference between fact and opinion

In order to think critically about reading material, your child must learn to separate fact from opinion. For practice, give your child a news article on a subject of interest. Cut off the headline. Ask your child to read the article and underline the facts in red and the opinions in blue. Then have your child write a new headline. How does it compare to the original?

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Five questions improve reading comprehension

Who? What? When? Where? Why? Teach your elementary schooler to keep these questions in mind while reading, and your child will begin to read more carefully and understand the material better. What happened in the story? Where did it happen? Who was involved? When did it happen? Why was it written? Talk with your child about the answers. If your student can't answer the questions, suggest reading the passage again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Support responsible learning

To be responsible students, children must take the job seriously. For that, they need their families' support. Make learning a priority in your family's life. Visit the library, explore new places, take nature walks. Establish routines that make reading and studying an expected part of each day. Encourage your child to keep trying when schoolwork is tough. And when your student has questions, demonstrate how to find the answers.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Encourage writing and communication by sharing a journal

When kids have time to think about what they want to say, they sometimes share their deepest thoughts. Try sharing a journal with your child. Glue a picture of the two of you onto a notebook, then write something positive about your child. It might be about how hard your student is trying in school or how your child makes you laugh. Leave it for your elementary schooler to read. The next day, it is your child's turn to write to you. Keep it up all year!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Play the Too Much Game with your child

Sometimes enough is enough. That's when it's time to play the Too Much Game. Tell your child: "When I say 'too much,' you say something that's good in an appropriate amount, but not when you have too much. Then say what bad thing comes from too much." Your child might say, "Food is good, but eating too much is unhealthy." Take turns and have some fun: Too much bathing might wash your skin off!

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Spot the states in this license-plate game

Studies show that American students tend to do poorly in geography. Here's a game to help your child learn where places are. When you are on the road together, make your child the "license-plate lookout." Your child should write down the out-of-state license plates. When you get home, help your student locate the states on a map or globe and mark each one with a sticker. Can your child collect all the states?

Friday, February 17, 2023

Get answers to questions about tutoring

If your child is struggling in school, a tutor may be able to help. Check in with your child's teacher to find out what the issues and options are. Tutoring may be available through the school, or you may wish to hire a tutor. Before hiring someone, be sure to ask: What are the person's academic qualifications? (It's preferable for elementary tutors to be certified teachers.) Has the tutor taught this subject or taught children your child's age? Will the tutor communicate with your child's teacher? (The best tutoring supports classroom learning.)

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Develop your child's sense of self-respect

When children don’t respect themselves, they find it hard to value other people and treat them respectfully. To bolster self-respect, give your child opportunities to develop competence by practicing skills. Notice progress and successes, and encourage your child to stay positive in the face of challenges. Allowing your child to make age-appropriate choices shows that what your child thinks matters. And sticking your principles and demonstrating your own self-respect encourages your child to do the same.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Reward positive effort with a weekend surprise!

Tell your child you've planned something special for the weekend, but don't say what it is. Let imagination build the excitement. After dinner, ask everyone to get into pajamas. Then build a fort with pillows, chairs and blankets. Pop popcorn and put pieces of cut-up fruit on sticks. Stay up late reading, playing board games and eating your treats. In the morning, serve your child's favorite breakfast.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Ask this question when your child gets home

When your child gets home today, try asking the same question Nobel Prize-winning physicist Isidor Rabi's mother asked him: "Did you ask a good question today?" Encourage your child to think about what's being taught in class. What questions does your child have about how a concept works or connects to another idea? Rabi credited his mother for his becoming a scientist; her daily query prompted him to ask thoughtful questions.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Keep your child thinking wherever you are

When you are doing errands or stuck in traffic, keep your child's brain working with thinking activities. At the supermarket, for example, ask your child to point out all the orange items, or everything that costs more than two dollars but less than three. In the car, ask your child to find signs with the letter J or an exclamation point in them. Ask questions that require thought, too: "What do you think might happen if we… ?"

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Proper behavior makes school buses safer

Misbehavior on the school bus can affect everyone's safety. Remind your child that you expect respectful behavior toward the bus driver and others on the bus. Your child should follow bus driver's instructions and treat the bus and all school property with care. Expect your child to follow these rules in the family car, too. If you need to, pull over in a safe place and wait until everyone is behaving properly before you resume driving.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Use a schedule to make responsibility routine

To help your child finish schoolwork and chores without needing frequent reminders, create a responsibility routine. Write down a schedule with specific times for schoolwork and studying, reading, chores and free time. If you stick to the routine, your child will know it's necessary to finish that math worksheet, set the table and lay out clothes for tomorrow before playing. Have your child check off each task after completing it.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Inspire caring and creativity with valentines

Valentine's Day (February 14) is coming up. To teach your child about caring for others, make a list together of people who might like to receive a valentine, such as a lonely child, a single neighbor, a helpful store clerk or the school custodian. Ask your child to make cards for them. If possible, help your student deliver the valentines in person. Seeing the recipients' joy will encourage more kind gestures.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Choose age-appropriate news sources

Watching TV news can upset elementary schoolers, and the older they get the more vulnerable they are. Fifth graders are old enough to understand what they see, but too young to put it into perspective. To help explain, look for news sources produced for children, such as Scholastic News. News videos for kids are available online on sites such as NBC News Learn. Watch together, so you can answer questions and explain what your child is seeing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Make talking and thinking part of reading aloud

As you read with your child, stop from time to time to discuss what you're reading. What does it mean? How does the story relate to things your child already knows? When new words appear, ask your child to think about what other words have similar meanings. Before you reach the end of a passage, see if your student can predict what will happen next. When children make these connections, they get more from their reading.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Keeping up with assignments adds up to math success

If your child has homework in only one subject, it's likely to be math. Math builds on itself, and students have an easier time if they stay up-to-date with assignments. Have your child read through any sample problems and explain them to you. If the sample is confusing, remind your child to ask the teacher for help the next day. On days when there is no math homework, review basic math facts together.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Prioritize attendance to prevent missing out

Missing just one day a week of school adds up to more than two years of missed class time over a child's school career. Absent students also miss things they can't make up, like discussions and demonstrations. To keep your elementary schooler from missing out, review your child's absence record and recommit to making school attendance a priority.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Motivate good behavior with marbles

Here's a simple system to encourage good behavior. Every time your child does something properly, provide a marble to put into a clear jar. Notable achievements, such as an improvement in a grade, also earn marbles. Poor behavior costs your child marbles. When the jar is full, the whole family gets a treat. Keep the jar in a visible spot where your child can watch it get full and remember that good behavior benefits everyone.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Positive words encourage cooperation

When you want your child's cooperation, send a positive message. Saying "I hope you finish your schoolwork and do a careful job. Then we can play games and eat popcorn," sounds like an invitation, while "No schoolwork, no games" sounds like a threat. It's the same message, but which version would your child rather hear?

Friday, February 03, 2023

Participate in things that matter to your child

It's not always possible for families to attend every one of their children's events at school. So what's most important? It's simple, really. Ask which events mean the most to your child. Your elementary schooler may not care if you miss the perfect attendance award ceremony. But it may be important that you hear your child's 30-second solo in the spring concert. When you can't be there for everything, be there when it matters to your child.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Sneak some science into conversations

You'd probably be met with a groan if you said, "Let's talk about science" to your child. To bring the subject up more naturally, notice the moon and stars. Ask what your child can tell you about the current shape of the moon. Or talk about the food your family eats. Can your child tell you why it's important to eat vegetables, or what protein does Talk about digital devices, too. How do you each think technology influences life?

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Collecting is a fun way to practice school skills

Is your child's room crammed with collections of "treasures"? Use these collections to reinforce school skills. To encourage reading, visit the library or go online together to read about your child's collecting interests. Practice math skills by having your child count and sort and classify items. Promote organization by having your student think about ways to display and keep track of collectibles, such as creating a digital catalog.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for January 2023

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Play the Try a New Vegetable game

To encourage your child to give a new healthy food a try, write the names of vegetables you have on hand on slips of paper. Repeat so you have two slips for each vegetable, and put the papers into a hat. Your child draws slips until getting the same vegetable twice. That's the one you'll serve tonight. Then refill the hat with slips numbered from 1 to 10 and let your child pick again. That number is how many bites of vegetable your child has to eat.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Rewarding persistence can help establish study habits

Many skills children need to learn take time to master. But practicing times tables, vocabulary words or music scales isn't always fun. One way to keep your child motivated is to reward solid efforts. Stock a jar with small treats. Then you and your child can agree on the number of diligent practice sessions needed to earn a treat. As your child's skills improve, adjust the number upward to maintain the challenge until you can phase them out completely.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Finishing last is sometimes a winning move!

Some elementary schoolers race through tests to see who can finish first. And their grades reflect their hurried, incomplete responses. Remind your elementary schooler that it is important to take time to double-check answers. Your child may finish the test last, but grades will likely improve.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Discover the true stories behind local history

Is your street named for a tree or a famous person? How did your town get its name? What other questions can your child think of about where you live? Head to the library together and research some local history. Your child may enjoy looking at copies of your local newspaper from long ago. Encourage your child to find out more by interviewing some older citizens about their experiences.

Friday, January 27, 2023

These student achievement tips are parent-approved

In a survey, parents of high achieving high school students were asked how to raise a child who is successful in school. Their top tips? Stay engaged and emphasize the importance of education. Take time to talk together and respect your child's opinions. Give your student an ethical foundation. Get involved with the things that interest your child. And let your child know your love is unconditional.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Attitude turns a failure into a useful lesson

It took Thomas Edison hundreds of tries before he found the right materials for his light bulb. But each time he learned what wouldn't work, Edison got closer to finding out what would, and he kept going. Help your elementary schooler take that same attitude. When your child makes a mistake, ask "What do you know now that you didn't before?" Experience is a good teacher when children pay attention to the lesson.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Increase responsibilities and privileges at the same time

Children's responsibilities should grow and change as they get older. When giving your child responsibility for a new chore, emphasize the positive reasons for the change. Praise your child for being able to do the job "now that you're so grown up." And as you add responsibilities, consider adding privileges, too. A child who is old enough to do laundry is also old enough to decide what to wear in the morning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Make reading aloud an interactive activity

When you read together, try these tips to boost your child's reading comprehension. Pause from time to time to ask questions about the story, such as, "Why do you think the character did that?" Help your child make connections between things in the reading and familiar experiences or ideas. And when you finish reading, have your child act out the story.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Everyone benefits when you get involved at school

Volunteers work for free, but not for nothing. There are lots of benefits to getting involved at school. You'll learn what's going on and get another perspective on what your child tells you. You'll have things to talk about with your child. You'll have a chance to develop valuable workplace skills, such as project management or fundraising. And you'll be able to make a difference to every child in the school.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Teach your child how to find answers to questions

"How do you spell…?" "What’s a…?" "Where is…?" Students are full of questions. It's important that they learn how to find the answers for themselves in reliable sources. Keep a few basic reference books, such as an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an atlas and a thesaurus, on hand or bookmarked online. When your elementary schooler asks you a question, demonstrate how to use them. Your child will not only answer the question, but will also learn how to find the answers to others.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Easier mornings start the night before

In many families, weekday mornings are often rushed and disorganized. To make yours more manageable, get ready the night before. Have your child lay out clothes, pack up schoolwork and put schoolbags by the door. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, too. Sleepy, crabby kids are hard on families and teachers, and they also can't learn well. Fuel your child's brain for learning with portable breakfast choices that can go out the door with your child.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Build social skills…one compliment at a time

Young children are naturally self-centered. But you can help your child grow out of this and learn to appreciate other people. Encourage your child to compliment at least one person at school each day. Explain that compliments should be sincere, so your child will have to look for positive things that friends and teachers do. Each evening, ask who your child complimented and why.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Sign here to encourage homework responsibility

Sometimes, kids "forget" to tell their parents about a school assignment. Usually, asking them to write down what they must do for each class solves the problem. But a few kids may then start erasing assignments from their notebooks. If this happens, ask your child's teacher to sign each day's assignments vertically across your child's writing. That way, there will be no mistake about what's due.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

What do you and your child have in common?

As children grow, their interests change. To maintain a connection, parents need to find new ways to talk, listen and connect with their kids. One good way is to find an interest you and your child share: making model rockets, biking, playing board games, baking, etc. Whatever it is, make time to do it together. Communication will flow easily when you both can share in and discuss an enjoyable activity.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Share a simple system for remembering reading

Studying with the R-C-R-C method can help children remember what they read. Teach your elementary schooler these four steps: 1. Read. Have your child read aloud. 2. Cover. Your child should put a piece of paper over the passage. 3. Remember. Ask your child to explain the reading. (If this is a struggle, try a shorter passage.) 4. Check. Your child should reread the material to verify recall accuracy.

Monday, January 16, 2023

There is no such thing as safe tobacco use

Many parents believe that their kids are too smart to vape or smoke. But nearly five percent of middle school students use tobacco products, and e-cigarettes (vaping devices) lead the list. Vaping is not safe for children and young adults. Vapers are also more likely to become smokers, and life expectancy for smokers is 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers. Make it clear to your child that you do not allow tobacco use of any kind.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Help your child turn words into pictures

Many students struggle with a common reading problem. They can recognize the individual words in a passage, but they have trouble understanding the overall meaning. Help your elementary schooler learn to visualize. When your child reads to you, describe the images that occur in your mind. Or, help your child draw pictures or diagrams of the story's action. You could even act out the story, and have your child describe what you are doing.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Time with you adds to your child's education

Parents are their children's first teachers. And your child is still learning from you! That's why it's so important to make time together a priority. To find more time, write down everything you do in a week. Is there anything you can pass off to someone else so you can spend that time with your child? Make sure your child's schedule includes time for family, too. Then plan some fun things to do together.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Five steps help students study spelling

Computers don't catch every spelling mistake, so students need to learn how to spell. Teach this five-step method that works. When learning a new word, have your child: 1. Pronounce the word slowly, and think about the sounds the letter combinations make. 2. Spell the word out loud. 3. Spell the word silently while visualizing the letters. 4. Write the word down. 5. Repeat.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

A sick day is for getting well

When illness strikes, you may need to keep your child at home. Take care of your child, but don't make staying home a treat. That can make your child want to miss more school. Instead of filling the day with screen time, read together. This is the perfect time to dive into a longer book. And if your child will be out for more than a day or two, ask the teacher how to access missed work.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Family meals nourish important connections

It isn't always easy for busy families to sit down for meals together each day. Yet experts say that eating meals as a family is an important way for parents to keep the lines of communication open with their children. And when your child helps you prepare and clean up, too, you'll have even more time for some great conversation. So, if you can't eat dinner together, spend extra time over breakfast!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

When you can't volunteer, maybe relatives can

Working parents don't always have the time during the day to volunteer at school. But students and the school benefit from volunteer efforts by any adult family members. Many schools welcome grandparents as volunteers. If your child doesn't have a grandparent available, perhaps aunts, uncles or godparents could get involved. Ask your child's teacher how these volunteers can help.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Provide an introduction to social skills

Your child will feel more confident in social situations at school if you review how to make social introductions together. Provide practice by having family members sit in a circle. Everyone should take turns introducing themselves (Hi, I'm Scott). Then have family members introduce the person to their left and say something about that person (This is my brother, Eric. He likes to play soccer and wear high-top sneakers.).

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Bring science home with a 'do-it-yourself' kit

Experimenting is an important part of scientific thinking. Create a "science-in-a-box" kit to inspire your child to experiment at home. Include items such as: aluminum pie pans, balloons, empty cans, pins or thumbtacks, clean Styrofoam trays, tape, a flashlight, a magnifying glass, a magnet, a ruler, scissors and string. Then help your child brainstorm some questions to answer by using these materials.

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Help your child move beyond negative feelings

Many parents tend to dismiss their children's negative feelings. They respond to "I hate reading" with "Don't be silly." But acknowledging children's feelings can help them move on to finding solutions. Accept your child's feelings, even as you stop unacceptable behavior. "I know you're feeling frustrated by reading, but you need to keep trying." Then ask, "Why do you feel that way? What do you think might help?"

Friday, January 06, 2023

Add a little excitement to math practice

Math skills improve with repetition. One way to make math practice fun for your child is to glue a picture onto each of 10 large index cards. Then cut the cards in half, mix them up and put them in a container. Set a timer for five minutes and give your child math problems one by one. Each correct answer earns your child a chance to draw a card. How many complete pictures can your student make before the timer runs out?

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Link your child's interests to possible careers

Exploring careers is fun for elementary schoolers, and it helps them link learning to life. You can help by noticing your child's interests and encouraging discovery of related careers. Give an animal lover a library book about a veterinarian. A budding astronaut might like to try out a telescope. Your child's choices may differ from yours, but who knows? With your support, your little inventor may just build a better mousetrap.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Encourage your child to talk about reading

When kids talk about reading, they get more excited about it. They think about what they read more deeply. To encourage your child to talk about reading material, ask a few questions, such as: Did the story turn out the way you thought it would? If you were the main character, what would you have done differently? How would the story be different if it took place where we live?

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Feed your child's memory with a grocery game

To succeed with schoolwork, your child must not only learn information, but also be able to recall it on demand. To provide practice, play a grocery game. After you shop, ask your child to help you put away the groceries. Once your student has put away four or five items, ask, "What items did you just put away?" As your child's memory improves, gradually increase the number of items.

Monday, January 02, 2023

Whisper to get your child's attention

If "You never listen to me" is a common saying at your house, you can improve your family's two-way communication. If your child is not paying attention, resist the inclination to yell. Whisper instead. Your child is likely to hang on every word. Then return the favor and give your child your undivided attention.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

For a strong parent-child relationship, remember 10 C's

Time is limited and you want to be the best parent you can be. You will be when you keep these 10 C's of a strong parent-child relationship in mind: caring, cuddling, commitment, companionship, conversation, consistency, chores, creativity, connections and culture. Give your child some of each today.

eTips: Daily Engagement Messages for December 2022

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Get set to start the new year strong

As winter break nears an end, help your child gear up to go back to school! Together, set some new learning goals. Make a new activity schedule that includes enough time for schoolwork, reading and playing, too. If you need to, reestablish a reasonable school-night bedtime and revive a family reading time. And be sure to remind your child that school is important and you expect your child's best effort.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Sometimes, 'no' is a positive thing to say

Is your life so busy you feel you don't have enough time for family or to help your child learn? You're not alone. This is a good time to review your schedules. Think of all the demands on your time and your child's. Then consider saying no to some of them. When you say no to some requests, you are also saying yes to more time with your child and doing what really matters.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

It's always the season for sending notes to your child

Sending notes with lunch is a great way to encourage reading and make your child feel loved. Make your notes extra-special by reusing the seasonal greeting cards your family receives. Just cut off the colorful card fronts, flip them over and write caring messages. A winter scene with "You warm my heart" on the back can make your child's day. Add your own creative touches to the cards and use them all year long.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Help your child learn how to get smarter

Studies show that people who believe in the value of hard work can face challenges, learn from them, and get smarter. When your child hits a learning obstacle, say things like, "I know you can do it. What else could you try?" Point out the effects of effort: "If you work on your project every day, you're sure to be proud of the result." Praise persistence, too: "You didn't give up until you figured it out! Your effort is making you smarter."

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Watch for the signs of school struggles

Low grades aren't the only signal that your child may be struggling in school. A child who suddenly doesn't want to go to school, for example, may have a problem with a classmate or a teacher. A child who starts blaming others for making it hard to learn, or says things like, "I knew I'd never be good in school," may be afraid of failing. If you see these signs, discuss them with your child, the teacher or a school counselor.

Monday, December 26, 2022

What comes after gift-giving? Thank-you notes

After a gift-giving occasion, help your child develop gratitude and writing skills by having a family thank-you note party. Set out lots of pens, paper, notecards and stamps. Provide a snack and let your child put on some music. Then get writing! Encourage your child to write two or three heartfelt sentences and mention the gift by name. Set an example by writing your own notes.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Help grandparents be reading buddies

Grandparents love listening to their grandchildren read aloud, and it helps the children improve their reading skills. But often, distance gets in the way. If in-person visits won't work, try sending grandparents a copy of a book your child is reading. Then, when they call or video chat, they will be able to share reading time with your child.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

A treasure hunt makes following directions fun

To improve your child's ability to follow verbal instructions, play a treasure hunt game: Hide a small toy or coin, then tell your child exactly how to find it. Start simply, by giving only two or three instructions. Help your child visualize carrying out the steps. Then ask your child to repeat the directions and follow them. You can increase the complexity of your instructions as your child's skill improves.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Anger has no place in discipline

Kids are great at pushing parents' buttons. But reacting with anger doesn't help. When you stay calm and under control, you deal from a position of strength. So, when your child's behavior is frustrating, take a deep breath and explain the behavior you want to see instead. Remind your child of the consequences of the misbehavior. Then offer a choice: Your child can change behavior or accept the consequences.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

You don't need a lab to sharpen scientific thinking

Many of the skills students need for success in science are things you can help your child practice at home. To sharpen powers of observation, ask questions that invite your child to notice small details. Demonstrate how to classify by sorting things into groups based on their characteristics. You can also encourage your child to make and test predictions about how the world works: "How fast do you think an ice cube will melt on the counter?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

When you can't be together, connect in writing

If a hectic work schedule is making it hard to stay connected with your child, try using a notebook to aid communication. Every day, write your child a note. Write about special things that happened during your day. Remind your child of tasks that need doing and things that are coming up. Then leave the notebook for your child to read. Ask your child to write you back and fill you in about the events of the day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Choose gifts that promote creativity and interaction

Your time and attention are the best gifts you can give your child. But when considering material gifts, think about screen-free items that encourage creativity and interaction. Gifts like hand puppets, balls, crafts, jump ropes and table games are great for children ages five to nine. For older children, gifts related to hobbies and scientific activities are ideal. And books are always a great option for children of all ages.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Strike back at the 'fourth-grade reading slump'

It's common for kids to hit a reading slump around fourth grade. In that year, books get harder and some students' concentration decreases. To ensure that your child keeps reading, continue to read together. Your involvement shows that reading is important. Look for reading materials that match your child's interests, and limit recreational screen time. Being bored sometimes may encourage your child to pick up a book.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Why your child's attendance matters

It seems obvious to say that kids need to attend school to learn. But studies continually show how important attendance really is. Absenteeism in kindergarten can influence whether a child gets held back in third grade. Frequent absences later on increase the chances a student will drop out of school altogether. Absenteeism is reversible, so make sure your child starts school on time, every day.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Give your child these priceless gifts

As you think about giving your child gifts, remember that there are some only you can give. One is the gift of your time, spent listening, reading, helping and having fun together. Another is the gift of understanding. If your child makes a mistake, listen before you scold. Confidence is another precious gift. When you show you believe your child can succeed, you help your child believe it, too.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Teach key ways to get along with others

The ability to get along with people is a social skill that helps children throughout their school careers. To build this skill, teach your child the importance of being polite. Explain that when friends are talking and your child wants to join in, it's polite to enter the ongoing conversation rather than change the subject. Encourage your child to ask others about their intentions and wishes. Emphasize the need to consider other people's feelings and show them respect even when they disagree.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Keep your child's brain active over break

Winter break is a time for fun. But that doesn't mean your child can't also continue learning. Encourage your student to read for pleasure. You can help find books by authors your child likes or suggest rereading old favorites. If your child receives holiday gifts, schedule time to make notecards and write thank-you notes. Board games are another fun way to learn. Play games with your child that require math or higher-level thinking skills.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Suggest fun things for your child to graph

Graphing makes information understandable at a glance, and it is an important math skill for elementary schoolers. Encourage your child to make some graphs over winter break. Suggest topics your elementary schooler might enjoy graphing, such as colors of cars in your neighborhood, the number of T-shirts owned by each member of your family, or the high and low temperature each day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A chore chart makes responsibility clear

To provide practice in being responsible, get your child involved in family chores. Create a chore chart, listing everyone's assignments for the week. Post the chart where it can be seen. When someone completes a task, it is that person's responsibility to check it off. If your child forgets to mark the chart, the chore is automatically your child's assignment again next week. This eliminates arguments about whose turn it is to do a chore, and encourages responsibility for doing chores and keeping correct records.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Make stress relief a part of your family's routine

Stress is all too common in families today. And when your children are stressed, it can affect their success in school. To reduce stress at home, create a peaceful after-school-and-work routine that lets your family reconnect. You might share a healthy snack while you talk together about the day. After 15 minutes or so, you'll all be more refreshed and ready to take on evening tasks.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Help your child think about the sources of online information

Anyone can put up a website, and the digital world is filled with conflicting information. That's why it's important for students to learn to evaluate the material they read online. Does the source's sponsor have a product to sell or a particular agenda? Your child should take that into account. If experts seem to disagree, your child should try to find out why. For example, is one source out of date, since newer research has been done?

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Stay in touch with your child's teachers all year long

To be an active partner in your child's education, communicate regularly with the teachers. Parent-teacher conferences are a start, but it's also important to stay in touch throughout the year. Ask teachers for advice on how to help your child learn. Respond to report cards. Provide information about situations affecting your child. You could even say thanks when your child learns a new skill.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Put your child in charge of some regular self-care tasks

Sometimes, all it takes to make your child more responsible is a change in attitude. Each month, think about all the things you do for your child. Then choose one thing you can teach your child to do independently. Coach your child in the skills needed to do the task. Provide a chance to practice, then make the task your child's responsibility. Say how proud you are of all your elementary schooler can do!

Thursday, December 08, 2022

To boost interest in reading, connect with authors

Encourage interest in reading by helping your child find out more about a favorite living author. Most writers love hearing from children who like their books. Suggest that your child write the author a letter. Send it in care of the publisher (look in one of the author's books for the name and address), or check online to see if the author has a website with contact information. The author may even write back!

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Establish ground rules for effective discipline

Creating and enforcing a basic list of rules can prevent a lot of power struggles with your child. Just make sure your rules are reasonable, that your child understands them, and that you consistently enforce the consequences for breaking them. That way, when your child wants to play a video game and you say "Assignments first. It's the rule," your student is more likely to get to work without much grumbling.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Check your child's backpack for conversation starters

If all you hear from your child about school is that it was "fine" or "boring," look in your child's schoolbag. The papers inside are great conversation starters. Kids who won't respond to general questions like "How was school?" will often answer specific ones like "How did you use this map in class?" If you find artwork in the bag, ask what your child was thinking while making it. Spelling words? Ask which are easy and which are hard.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Show your child in many ways that education matters

When students know that school is important to their families, it becomes important to them. Talk with your child every day about school. Discuss why you value education. Monitor schoolwork, and post your child's improved and successful work for all to see. Stay in touch with the teachers, and let your child know that you and the teachers are working as a team to help your child succeed in school.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Encourage your child to do a writing review

Before your child turns in a writing assignment, show how to review it. Teach your child to keep questions like these in mind: Does the writing clearly say what I mean? Does each paragraph focus on one specific idea? Does each sentence have a subject and a verb, and express a complete thought? Have I used words that express thoughts exactly? Is the handwriting neat?

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Families support school success in important ways

There's no recipe for creating a successful student. But the families of many successful students have some things in common. They read with their children. They make sure that their kids get enough sleep and exercise, and start each day with a nutritious breakfast. These families also encourage and support their children and expect them to work hard and achieve in school.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Encourage your child to try to solve problems

Parents who rescue their children at the first sign of trouble are sending them a message: "You can't do it without me." Their children never learn how to handle situations themselves. They may not even believe they can. As long as it is safe, let your child try to solve a problem independently. If one thing doesn't work, ask "What else do you think you could try?" Help your child think through the options. Then let your child decide what to do.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

A plan helps get recreational screen time under control

How many hours a day does your child spend watching shows, surfing the web, playing online games and texting? Are screens a distraction from schoolwork? Find out what digital media your child is watching or playing. Then, set limits and plan a screen-time schedule for your family. To encourage a healthy balance, help your child make a list of fun and productive activities to do when devices are off.

eTips: Daily Parent Engagement Messages for November 2022

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Offer support when your child feels challenged

Every stage of childhood has its challenges. But if you dismiss a challenge your child is facing as "just a phase," you may make it seem like you don't care. Instead, show support by asking your child to talk about what's going on. Listen without rushing to judgment. Then ask questions to help your child consider ways to handle the problem. You'll still need to correct inappropriate behavior, but your child will know you want to help.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Are you an 'askable' parent?

Children are full of questions, and they will seek answers where they can. Being an "askable" parent is the best way to ensure that you will be your child's primary source of information and values. Tell your child you want to answer questions. Never punish, tease or judge your child for asking a question, and don't try to avoid sensitive or embarrassing topics. Instead, say, "I'm glad you asked!"

Monday, November 28, 2022

Practice math and science in the laundry room

To reinforce your child's math and science skills, put them to practical use. Doing laundry together is one easy way. To practice observation, for example, ask your child, "Does this shirt feel different from that one? Why could that be?" Sort clothes by color or family member to help your child learn to classify. Encourage your child to quantify by asking things like, "Who has the shortest socks in the family? By how many inches?"

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Help your child feel like a writer

To encourage your child to see writing as something fun to do, offer a supply of interesting paper, and pens and pencils in different widths and colors. Or demonstrate how to choose fonts and colors on the computer, and encourage your child to email friends and relatives. Display samples of your child's writing on a family bulletin board to send the message, "I believe you are a writer."

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Teach your child to respect the world all around

Students need to learn to take respectful care of items around them: their own, the school's and other people's. One way to teach this behavior is to involve them in caring for the environment. Ask your child to think of things your family could do to protect your corner of the world: planting trees, recycling, etc. Suggest activities to match your child's interests. If your child likes animals, for example, help find out more about their habitats and what can be done to preserve them.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Take sides to improve critical thinking

There's usually more than one side to an issue. To help your child practice seeing the pros and cons of an argument, play a debate game. Throw out a statement, such as "Homework should be banned forever." Ask your child to think of all the reasons that support your child's opinion on the subject. Then ask for a list of all the reasons against it. Discuss both sides as a family. Which views were more convincing?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Make your holiday gathering an occasion for learning

Holidays offer your child a great chance to learn and spend time with family. So plan some activities that everyone can share. For example, your child can learn more about family history by interviewing older relatives. Your child might ask about their arrival in this country, or about unusual experiences they've had. If your family won't be seeing relatives this holiday season, help your child write the questions down in a letter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Have a ton of rhyming fun

Rhyming games can help children increase their vocabularies and general knowledge. And they are easy to play anywhere! If your child is trying to learn the names of the states, for example, say, "I'm thinking of a state that rhymes with plane. What is it?" (Maine). Take turns asking the questions. Or try making rhymes for words on your child's spelling list. Having fun with words develops your child's love of language.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Decide on consequences before the rule is broken

When your child breaks the rules, you have to take action. But consequences are more effective if your child knows beforehand what they will be. For example, "If you don't do your assignments, study time will be twice as long the next day to be sure you have enough time." Establishing rules and consequences in advance keeps your child from feeling picked on. And it helps reinforce the connection between actions and their outcomes.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Sometimes, saying 'no' gives your child a chance to grow

Families strive to give their children everything they need. But everything they want? That's a different story. Saying no at appropriate times encourages resourcefulness and helps kids learn to solve problems for themselves. Children must learn to occupy themselves and settle their own disagreements. They must do their own schoolwork. Saying no to doing these things for your child makes it clear that your child is capable of doing them independently.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The benefits of reading aloud don't stop as kids grow

Once your child can read independently, should you still read aloud? Research says yes. For one thing, reading aloud together now can have lasting positive effects on your child's attitude toward school. In one study, high school students whose parents read to them often when they were younger worked harder and earned higher grades in school than other students. Give your child a boost: Keep reading aloud.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Simple strategies at home support school success

There are lots of things families can do at home to expand children's learning. Here are a few ideas to start with: Play board games that involve numbers or reading. Play listening games such as Simon Says. Ask your child open-ended questions that inspire thinking ("What if?"). Give your child a daily responsibility to carry out. And most important of all, read with your child every day.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Notice and praise what your child does right

The right kind of praise helps your child feel like a capable and valued person. It can encourage your student to keep trying. Effective praise is specific and lets children know exactly what they did well ("Thank you for folding the towels so neatly"). Praise should also be earned. If you praise everything your child does, your praise will lose its meaning. Instead, motivate your child by praising effort and progress.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Build your child's powers of mental math

Here's a way to help your child practice doing addition without a pencil or paper. Start by giving your student four single-digit numbers to add together. Pause after you say each number to allow your child enough time to add. When that is easy, give four double-digit numbers, also spaced out one at a time. Next, give four numbers all at once. When your child is a pro, you can move on to giving five, six or more numbers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Stand near your child when giving directions

If you find yourself yelling instructions repeatedly to get your child to do as you ask, the problem could be the physical distance between you. When giving directions, stop what you're doing and walk over to your child. When you get close, you can use eye contact and facial expressions to get your child's attention. You'll save time…and your vocal cords.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Reevaluate rules to ensure a good fit

When your child outgrows a pair of jeans, you replace them. Limits and rules can be outgrown, too. That's why it's important to check regularly to see whether those limits still "fit." Keep in mind that what works for one child may not be appropriate for another. If you relax a boundary and your child doesn't respond well, you can always return to the way things were and try again in a few months.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Help your child see beyond a learning disorder

If your student has a learning disorder, make it clear that it does not define who your child is. Children with learning issues often think they can't do things well. Help your child see that's not true. Research the disorder so you can keep your expectations realistic, then focus on your child's strengths. To build confidence, assign doable chores. Encourage your child's interests and help find an extracurricular activity that is a good fit.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Save history for the future in a time capsule

A time capsule is a fun project to help your child learn that history is about real people's lives. Together, get some magazines and newspapers and cut out pictures of things that are important in your child's life, such as foods or a favorite pastime. Then help your student write a letter describing how your family lives. Put the pictures and letter in a sealed container, and store it for future generations to find and learn about kids today!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Review schoolwork to reinforce learning

Experts say that reviewing your child's schoolwork is important in every grade. Set aside time each day to look at classwork and assignments. Ask your child to tell you about it. Was it easy? Challenging? What can your student tell you about the subject? Compliment work that is complete and neat. If it isn't, ask your child to give it a little more effort.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Well-rested kids do better in school

One important way you can promote school success is to see that your child gets between nine and 13 hours of sleep each night. Even one more hour of sleep can help children stay alert, pay better attention and remember more. To help your child get enough sleep, encourage outdoor exercise and limit caffeine (and no caffeinated "energy drinks"). Then create a soothing, consistent bedtime routine.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Help your child avoid pitfalls that make problems worse

Knowing how to solve problems is a critical part of learning. There are many ways to approach a problem, but some strategies never work. Teach your child never to ignore a problem with a teacher, classmate or assignment. It won't go away and could even get worse. Getting mad won't help, and neither will quitting. If one solution doesn't work, encourage your child to try another, and to keep trying.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Create a keepsake that reinforces family ties

You can make the special days your family celebrates even more special by keeping a family journal of the events. Describe your preparations, and what went well and what didn't. Note what everyone talked about and how they felt (Lana squealed when Ethan…). You'll be capturing memories and creating stories that will strengthen your child's sense of family. Read them together often.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Reinforce precautions that help keep kids safe at school

Keeping students safe while they learn is a top priority for schools and parents. To help, encourage your child to get to know all the adults at school, not just classroom teachers. That way, your student will know who to turn to for help. Explain that there is safety in numbers, and your child should stay close to friends and walk in groups in the hallways. Above all, make it clear that your child must tell an adult immediately if a student brings a weapon to school.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Choose a 'math fact of the day'

Before children can succeed with higher math, they have to learn basic math facts. To make it more fun for your child, introduce a daily math fact, such as 9 times 6 equals 54. Challenge your child to repeat it often: in the shower, at the bus stop, in the lunch line. Say it together in different voices: a high voice, a low voice, a whisper. By the end of the day, you'll probably find that your child knows that math fact very well.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Give your child acceptable words to express strong feelings

At one time or another, many parents will hear "I hate you" from their child. When kids lash out with angry words, it's important not to overreact. Wait until you are both calm, and then explain to your child that "hate" is a hurtful word and it isn't acceptable. Offer some alternative things to say when upset, such as "I'm angry," or "I'm disappointed."

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Test stress eases when students prepare

Children with test anxiety are so afraid of failing that they can't do their best. It doesn't help to tell them to relax. What does help is preparation. Help your child find a quiet study space. Then help your student spread studying out over several days. Make sure that your child gets enough sleep, and on test day, offer encouragement: "I know you will do well. You're prepared."

Friday, November 04, 2022

Jump start your child's creative writing skills

Here's a great way to encourage your child to write and have fun together at the same time. Set a timer for six minutes. Then, until it rings, each of you write whatever comes into your head. Keep writing, even if it doesn't make sense. When the timer goes off, share what you each wrote. This technique is also great when your child has a writing assignment and says, "I can't think of anything to write."

Thursday, November 03, 2022

More choices can reduce power struggles

Power struggles with elementary schoolers are losing battles. To avoid them, give your child options rather than orders. "Would you like to do your reading now or after dinner?" Just be sure you can live with all the options you offer. If some things are out of the question, say so. "You may choose when to do your assignments, but the rule is that there is no screen time until schoolwork is done."

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Test your child's nerves with this science experiment

To help your child learn how nerves work, fill three large bowls with water: one with icy, one hot (not scalding), and one room temperature. Have your child put one hand in the hot bowl and one in the cold for one minute. Next, put your child's hot hand in the room temperature bowl. Ask, "Is it hot or cold?" Do the same with the cold hand. Your child's hot hand will feel cold, and the cold hand will feel hot, even though both are in the same water. That's because nerves sense temperature changes relative to what they are used to.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

View report cards as the start of a better future

Whether your child's report card is full of good or bad news, the way you handle it can affect your student's success in school. Review the report card together. Help your child see the link between effort and outcome. Is the time your elementary schooler is spending on studying paying off? Then, based on the report, help your child set some new learning goals. If grades aren't what they should be, work with the teacher to create an action plan to help your child improve.