Posts Tagged ‘school’

Summer Vacation Time

June 2nd, 2014

Juggling work schedules, kids’ commitments and the family budget may make some parents wonder if a family vacation is worth the effort. But before giving up, consider this: the kids might learn something from the experience. Families take vacations for many reasons – to spend time together, have some fun, or rest and relax. However, research shows these opportunities to visit other people and places and see something new can actually boost your child’s academic achievement.

Join us during June as we talk about summer vacations and academic achievement.


education, family time, podcast , , ,

Get a clue…

December 14th, 2012

Hmmm so I wondered after the last blog about myself and my children. I checked out the resources that Donna listed and am sharing here four of the clues to overindulging children. You can find the research and resources here….   4 Clues to Overindulgence

Instead of sharing with you the questions, I am going to share with you the examples.

  • My five-year-old has toys in every room of the house, but he is always begging for new toys.
  • My ten-year-old’s clothes closet is bulging with garments, but she can’t find anything to wear to school in the morning.
  • My 13-year-old has a heavy after-school activity schedule every day and all day Saturday. We want to keep him occupied so he won’t get into drugs.
  • My 17-year-old loves the computer and video games. He spends all of his time looking at the screen. He isn’t interested in sports, and it is a struggle to get him to exercise. I’m afraid he stays up half the night.

I encourage you to go view the questions. Then come back here and share your thought with us!

They made me think.


education, family time, friendship, overindulgence, positive parenting, raising teens, school, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Note from the Teacher

September 27th, 2012

“I have a note for you from my teacher” are not the words a parent usually likes to hear from their child. Or perhaps you get an email asking you to stop by the school. Before your radar sets off, take a deep breath. Sometimes teachers contact parents if their child has done really well. Other times the call comes because there is a problem. It’s important to remember your child’s teacher will have information about what aspects of her work are creating a problem. The teacher can tell you if your child is not paying attention, not participating in class, or not completing homework.

It’s also a good idea for you to initiate a conversation with teachers early in the school year about expectations. Find out how often homework will be given, when it is due, and how you will find out your child’s progress. Some teachers have a system they follow for assigning homework – assignment notebooks, folders, sign-off sheets. Discover what the teachers want and then do your part to be supportive.

I hear parents talking about how much homework their children have and if it’s a reasonable amount. That’s a good question and can vary depending upon school systems, teachers, and children’s ages. Harris Cooper, Director of Duke’s Program in Education says research is consistent with the “10-minute” rule” suggesting the optimum amount of homework a teacher should assign. Before anyone gets too excited, let me explain. It is a commonly accepted practice in which teachers add 10 minutes of homework as students progress one grade. For example, a first grader would have 10 minutes of homework while that 6th grader could handle 60 minutes.

What do you think about the 10 minute rule? Have you had a conversation with your child’s teachers about homework expectations this school year?

Donna Donald

homework, school , ,

School Success and Grandparents

September 20th, 2012

Grandparents have always been an important part of children’s lives. In fact,  many schools celebrated grandparents day on Sept 9th this year. In celebration of grandparents and in keeping with the theme of school success for our September podcast and blog  (, here are a few tips on how grandparents can help children this school year.

  • Ask. But ask specifically!  Rather than ask how school is going, be specific. Ask children what book they are reading, what their favorite part of the school day is, or what they are studying in a particular subject.
  • Praise. Not for their accomplishments but for their EFFORT! Praise them for the long hours they put into their studies. For eating that breakfast that helps their brain or simply for sharing their activities with grandpa and grandma!
  • Participate.  Visit or volunteer for activities or functions. Be a guest speaker. Or even join the class online blogs and discussion boards.  
  • Read. Share stories both written and verbal with your grandchild. Write them notes, letters or emails.
  • Plan. Encourage your grandchildren to think about their future plans and goals. Let your grandkids know you believe in them and the importance of trying their best.

“If you as a grandparent are raising your grandchildren, remember that it is important to know the child’s school and teachers. Get involved in your grandchildren’s homework, make school work a priority and stay in contact with the school.”

How have grandparents impacted your child’s school success?

Happy Fall!


For more information see the link below on Grandparents and School Success

Check out the recorded Parenting Webinar on Helping Children Succeed in School!

education, family time, grandparenting, positive parenting , , , , , ,

The Dog Ate My Homework!

September 13th, 2012

Ok, maybe your kids haven’t used that excuse, but homework has a way of getting lost. Misplaced homework is often the result of not having an organized study space for kids. My guess is that you purchased school supplies and some new clothes for back-to-school. But did you help your child create an inviting spot to study?

I remember doing my homework at the kitchen table and any reading in my bedroom. That seemed to meet my needs for concentration. Students have different needs. Some are easily distracted. Others don’t seem to be bothered by noise or activity. Talk with your child about his preferences. Add in what you know about him and then together set up the study area.

Kids need a desk or table with a comfortable chair. It’s important to have enough space for a computer, books, papers, and any other materials being used. Be sure there is good lighting and some type of storage. Perhaps you can designate a book shelf, filing cabinet, specific drawers, or even plastic containers. Then add the necessary school supplies – pencils, pens, markers, tape, glue, rulers, etc.  – so everything your student needs is in one place.

If this is a “dedicated” study space, think about adding color with wall paint, pictures, or posters. The idea is to make this an inviting place.

Would you want to go to work every day and not have a place to do your work? I’m guessing the answer is no. What ideas do you have for creating a study spot for your child?

Donna Donald

homework, school , ,

We Did It!

September 12th, 2012

The first Science of Parenting webinar aired Monday night. We enjoyed interacting with parents, grandparents, and others about Helping Your Child Succeed in School.

We recorded the webinar and it is now available for you to watch at your convenience. Just go to the top of this page and click on the “webinars” button on the left side.

At the end of the webinar we asked participants to share ideas for topics they would like to see addressed in future podcasts, blogs, and webinars. Your ideas are always welcome. Just send them via a blog entry.

Donna Donald

homework, school, webinar

School Success…Let’s get started!

September 6th, 2012

This month we are focusing on how to get the school year started right!

The short podcast gives a few ideas on homework and we are having an evening webinar on Monday the 10th of September to add more ideas to create success!  Listen to the podcast and join us on the 10th!

Lori and Donna

education, homework, podcast, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , ,

Can We Focus Please

June 28th, 2012

Do you ever having trouble remembering something you just read? Or you’ve already forgotten what you did five minutes ago or plan to do next? Happens to me way too often and I’m always telling myself, “Focus Donna.”

When I listened to the podcast I heard the “focus” word loud and clear. We’re told that focus has a lot to do with what we remember. In the classroom the teacher has to first get a child’s attention before he can teach a new concept. As a parent you have to get your child’s attention before you can even have a conversation.

Then the next step is to do something to elaborate on what was learned. This points out the need for enrichment activities to take learning to a higher level.

For example, let’s say your child just learned fractions. What can you do to enrich the concept? One idea is to have him help you bake his favorite cookies. He will soon be using those fractions with the measuring cups and spoons. Perhaps an older child is wrestling with active and passive verbs. She can elaborate on the definitions by writing a short story.

Focus and enrich – two simple words and concepts that are so important when it comes to learning. First we must remember and then we use or practice what we learned. What do you do to help yourself focus and remember? What have you found helpful in extending and enriching your child’s lessons?

Donna Donald

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Learn, Re-learn, Over-learn

June 21st, 2012

After listening to the podcast this month I found myself wondering about the things I have ‘over-learned’. Those things that come so easily to me now. And then I thought of my middle schooler and the things that are so difficult for her. I wondered how I could help her get to that ‘over learning’ that the podcast talks about so that she can be  less frustrated with certain subjects  (insert Math here).

As a parent sometimes it is so hard to watch our children struggle with different things in school. We want them to enjoy their days and not dread them. I am grateful that there are times that teachers have recognized struggling students and stepped in and said “hold up, we haven’t learned this yet and it’s not time to move on until we do”.  They concentrated on the learn, re-learn and over-learn.

As parents it is our job to continue the learning process. What are some things that you have done these first few weeks of summer to continue the learn, re-learn and over-learning of your school agers? Share your stories here with us!

Lori Hayungs

For additional ideas see “Dare to Excel” publications from ISU Extension and Outreach to Families  (also available in Spanish)

education, language development, positive parenting, social-emotional, special needs , , , , ,

The Country School Coatroom

June 14th, 2012

Picture a country school filled with students 1st through 8th grades. Hear the murmurs coming from the coatrooms. Imagine yours truly sitting cross legged on the floor next to a beginning reader.

This is the world I experienced for the first eight years of my education. I attended a large country school with three classrooms and three teachers.  We studied hard and played hard. And when you finished your assignments you got to be the teacher’s helper. This is where the coatroom enters the picture.

I would take a student from a lower grade to the coatroom. Then we would settle in under the jackets or coats and between extra shoes and boots. The little student would open up her reader or pull out math problems and we would go to work. I would listen, explain, and teach. When our time was up we returned to the classroom; both of us knowing just a little more.

My story is not just a walk down memory lane. Rather it serves to illustrate a critical point made in the podcast about learning. It is important to have overlearning which is well past the initial learning. And one of the best ways to do this is by teaching someone else what you have learned. When I was helping a student pronounce a big word or work through a multiplication problem, I was reactivating my knowledge. I was learning again and again.

My class was the last one to graduate from this country school. Today, education looks and feels quite different. But the concepts of how students learn remain the same. We constantly relearn what we’ve learned before and each time it gets faster.

What can you do this summer to help your child relearn prior lessons?   

Donna Donald

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Where did THAT shirt come from – it wasn’t there before!

March 22nd, 2012

I have 3 girls and 30,000 pieces of laundry to wash.  (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating). In the last 3 days (yes true) I have asked the girls to each go to the laundry room, get their own clean laundry and put it away. Each of them has gone to the laundry room 3 times. Why? Because after the first 2 trips they had still missed some of their own items, which meant there was still a clean laundry pile.

How do I get them to find their items on the first trip? I’d even settle for the second? Do they not recognize their own articles of clothing?  (They certainly do when one of their sisters is wearing it?)

After a few moments of pondering the dilemma I remembered  the following technique I learned from a Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 last month.

Adding a Small Chore: Here’s how it works.

Because they didn’t accomplish the first chore – getting their own clean laundry-mind you after 3 separate requests.  – they will now have a small additional chore. When I asked them to get their clothes initially, I also asked them to fold/match 6 pieces of ‘family’ laundry (towels, wash clothes, linens, match socks etc.) They will now have to each fold 3 times the number of towels/washcloths that I asked them to the first time. So they will each have 18 family items to fold/match. Trust me there are plenty! (sock come in pairs remember!)

By giving them a small ‘additional’ chore they will learn to check and make sure their first chore was done to completion. A small chore is not meant to be a punishment or an overwhelming task (like cleaning the garage or the complete disaster of a bedroom). The goal is to make it an inconvenience so they stop and think – or at the very least DO!

What are some other ‘small’ chores that could be assigned for those minor infractions? You might be surprised how the minor infractions decrease with the addition of a few small chores here and there.

Happy assigning!


Find out about Strengthening Families 10-14 and other ISU Extension and Outreach programs here –

education, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , , ,

Did You Get Your Homework Done?

September 29th, 2011

Did you get your homework done? That’s a question heard in many homes as parents and kids settle in for the evening. Part of the anxiety for kids at the beginning of each school year is adjusting to homework expectations. There can be a big difference from year to year in terms of quantity and difficulty.

Research shows that effective homework assignments do more than supplement the classroom lesson. They also teach children to be independent learners. Homework gives children experience in following directions, making judgments, raising additional questions for study, and developing responsibility and self-discipline.

Okay, that all sounds positive. But as a parent the question becomes how involved do you get in helping with homework. Following are my thoughts on the “what and how.”

  • Give praise for things your child does well in school. Look at the pictures, ask how the spelling test went, read the essay. Know what is being studied.
  • Discuss school with your child, both positive and negative. When there is a problem at school it is hard for most children to figure out what they can do to deal with it. They need your help.
  • Meet with teachers – face-to-face, phone, electronically. Have a conversation at the beginning of the school year about homework expectations.  
  • Have a special place for homework where there aren’t distractions. Select a place that you can easily monitor. If the homework is done on the computer, check to be sure your child is doing homework and not chatting with Facebook friends or playing games.
  • Set clear rules about when homework is to be done. Evenings can be hectic with supper, music and dance lessons, sports practices and games, church activities, etc. Sit down as a family and decide where homework fits in.
  • Give consequences if homework is not done. Most children will not change habits unless there is a consequence for poor behavior or not following the rules.
  • Stay calm when there is a school problem. Your child’s teacher will have information about what aspects of his work are creating a problem. Then you can work towards a solution.

Your child is going to be in school for many years. Even though she may not have lots of homework right now, you are setting the stage for how this part of her school experience will go. If you can help her develop good study habits now, the payoff will be substantial in the years ahead.

What specific things are you doing to help your child be successful in school?

Donna Donald

education, positive parenting , ,

Episode 7: Project-based Learning

September 1st, 2011

Get kids engaged in project based learning, and they’ll learn more by creating solutions to real-world problems. Learn how in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.

ISU Extension materials

Help Children Discover Answers with Project-based Learning (PM 3002D)

Related Resources

More from Science of Parenting

education, podcast , , , ,

Back to school…acknowledging the range of feelings.

August 25th, 2011

While reading the Empty Nest posts I became consciously aware that my own children (14, 11, 7) had just emptied out their new back packs filled with school supplies (all over my kitchen floor) for the 10th time (ok maybe only the 2nd but ALL those supplies sure made it seem like 10!). I sat and listened to their bubbling conversations, their arguing over who’s folder was purple and whether the pencils should go in the supply box or front pocket of the backpack. Such excitement, such energy. 

And then in the next moment my 7 year old remembered that she would be starting at a new school, and she began to wonder aloud if her teacher would know that she was new and would the teacher help her to find her new locker? or would the teacher tell her where lunch bag? Such nervousness, such anxiety 

I wondered how to help her with that whole range of emotions in a single instant? All of the feelings rwere eal and important to my daughter. I may be comfortable with the knowledge that her teacher will ‘have it under control and know what to do, but how was I going to convince my daughter? 

The first step is to acknowledge ALL of her feelings. I can’t acknowledge some and disregard the others. Asking her to tell me more about what else she ‘wonders’ about her new school, new teacher, new classmates. Her seemingly innocent phrases out of the blue about her anxieties should be listened to and talked about. This is how she works through the dilemma in her head. Random questions. Disconnected thoughts. Brief phrases. I need to follow along with her train of thought and talk with her when she is ready to talk about them. 

Sometimes those thoughts are about excitement and other times they are about fears. No matter where here feelings are for the moment taking the time to share in their ‘real-ness’ shows her that I am along with her for the ride and will help her navigate the waters. 

Encouragement for the journey, Lori.

positive parenting , , ,

Helping with Homework (Part 1)

January 26th, 2011

Homework is a part of every child’s life.  On average, 5th and 6th grade students have 1 to 1.5 hours of homework each night, while 7th and 8th graders have up to 2 hours of homework each night. As a parent, there are things you can do at the beginning of the school year to set your child up for a successful year of high quality, homework completion!

Make sure your child has all the supplies necessary to be successful. Schools provide a list of school supplies before beginning each year. Help your child be prepared by ensuring he/she has all the supplies on this list. Especially for middle school and high school student, getting your child a planner is a great way to help with organization. Finally, be sure to provide a well-lit, quiet place at home where your child can complete homework.

Set up a regular homework time. Even if there are nights when your child does not have homework, establishing and maintaining a regular homework time will help your child stay organized and stay “ahead of the game.” When your child does not have specific assignments due the next day, suggest that he/she work ahead on assignments, or study for upcoming tests.

Make sure your child understands the teacher’s homework expectations. Most middle school and high school teachers give students worksheets that explain homework assignments. Help your child be successful by reading through these instructions together, and if possible, clarifying anything your child does not understand. If the directions are unclear to you as well, encourage your child to talk with the teacher and ask questions. This might be scary for some students, but as a parent, you can help ease these fears by reminding children that teachers want to help students be successful.

Encourage your child to work with “homework buddies.” Talk to your child about finding one student in each of his/her classes who can be a homework buddy. A homework buddy is someone your child can call with questions about assignments, someone who can take notes if he/she is absent, and might even be someone your child can work together with to complete assignments.

Get in touch and stay in touch with teachers. With advances in technology, there is a variety of ways to maintain contact with teachers, including email, phone, and in person visits. Teachers can inform you of your child’s academic progress, his/her behavior in the classroom, and things you can be working on with your child to encourage development. You can let the teacher know of any changes at home or in your child’s life, and also find out ways that you can get involved in your child’s classroom.

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