In their many years of teaching elementary and junior high school students in Orange County, Anne Farrell and Jacqueline Watson have learned one important lesson they want to pass on to parents.
Your involvement in your child's education, Farrell and Watson say, is the most important contribution you can make to fulfilling your child's potential as a happy and productive adult.
That's the premise behind "Parents' Guide for Helping Kids Become 'A' Students," which Farrell and Watson have co-written with Elaine Dundas, a San Diego teacher and writer.
The paperback book (Blue Bird Publishing; $11.95) provides parents with specific ideas and strategies on how to help their children succeed in school.
"The question parents often ask is, how can I help my child in school," said Farrell, who taught for 31 years and recently retired as a resource specialist at Niguel Hills Junior High School.
Farrell said she and her longtime friend Watson, a resource specialist at Del Obispo Elementary School in San Juan Capistrano, hope their book will become a resource guide to parents.
"There's so much information in it, just real practical activities to improve all the skill areas like reading, math, spelling and writing," she said. "A big portion of it is how study skills can be improved, including homework, memory techniques, note-taking and test-taking tips."
Farrell said her teaching experience shows that the best students usually have parents who take an interest in their schoolwork.
Her advice to parents?
"Two words: Get involved," she said. "Get involved in their children's education, get involved with what's going on in the school, get involved with working with the teacher. Supporting the teacher is so important.
"If there's homework, make sure the youngster has a place and specific time to sit down and do that homework."
And if a child goes back to class the next day prepared with his homework, she said, "he's bound to have some answers the teacher is going to ask him. He's not only going to get a better grade, but it's going to build his self-image too.
"So often we see kids with poor self-images, and they're kids who don't do their homework and don't have any interest in getting things completed."
And, she said, "parents need to start at an early age--right when (the children) first go to school--and develop these great work habits. Once they get to junior high there won't be any fight about it. They'll know what's expected of them."
"Parents' Guide for Helping Kids Become 'A' Students" is available at the Reading Rhinoceros in Mission Viejo.