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Do Your Homework to Ensure Your Child Has a Productive Year

August 27, 1992|MARY LAINE YARBER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Mary Laine Yarber teaches high school English.

While a lot of people make resolutions at the start of a new calendar year, it's a good thing to do at the start of a new school year too.

If your son or daughter is starting a fresh school year, consider making some resolutions to help him or her succeed:

Provide a decent study area. All that's needed is a desk, chair, dictionary and a good light.

Respect your child's study time. Don't interrupt to remind the child of chores or to relay phone messages.

Help the student start a file. All the tests and other papers that accumulate during the year should go in it. An old cardboard box will work nicely.

This will help you monitor your child's progress, and can serve as valuable proof if a teacher omits or incorrectly records an important grade.

Keep a copy of each teacher's syllabus (general course outline) and discipline policy . Go over them with your child. That way both of you will know exactly what subjects will be studied and which behaviors are expected (and prohibited).

Call each teacher to introduce yourself . Ask to be notified of any changes in your child's work, both good and bad. Most teachers are much more likely to contact parents who have invited them to do so.

Give the teachers your home and work numbers . Children often report them incorrectly for school records. (I've wasted many hours trying to reach parents when the school didn't have a correct number.)

Call the school's attendance office every now and then . This is a good idea even if your child has no history of truancy. Even good students sometimes hit a phase of skipping classes, and it's best to catch it before a habit develops.

Because most schools have computerized attendance records, you can generally get a long-term rundown with one quick phone call.

Discuss current events with your child . Do this at least a few times each week. Watch a news program or read the newspaper together, then discuss it. Mealtime is also a great time to talk about the world's happenings.

Monitor and restrict television viewing. While it can be informative and entertaining, TV can also be a mind-numbing waste of time. Make sure schoolwork is done first and limit the daily viewing to an hour or so.

Praise your child's success . Do this in all activities, but particularly in schoolwork. Post exceptional papers and projects on the refrigerator or wall. Show the work to your friends and convey their compliments to the child.

Plan enrichment activities at least once a month. You may want to designate a regular day, such as the first or last Saturday, that the child can rely on and look forward to.

These enrichment activities don't have to be expensive. Consider viewing a PBS program together, reading a story aloud or visiting a museum, art gallery or library.

Finally and most importantly: Resolve to be the best example possible to your child by exhibiting your own intellectual interests. For example, let the child see you read for pleasure, whether it's books, magazines or the newspaper.

Maintaining just a few of these resolutions can really make a difference in your child's academic success.

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