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Healthy Kids: Helping your child thrive in school

FILE - School bus (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - When it comes to a child’s academic success, parents play an important role.

Michele Reiersgaard, an educator for 28 years, currently teaches 3rd graders at Ridgeview Elementary School in Springfield. She said parent involvement in a child’s education is especially important at the elementary level because that’s where the foundation for learning develops.

“The part of your brain that is absorbing language is most receptive up until you’re about 10 years old,” Michele said. “So it’s a really critical time for kids to be learning as much as they can and learning how to learn and setting good habits.”

Reading well helps children in all school subjects, so teachers strongly encourage regular reading outside the classroom to help ensure a child’s academic success.

“It doesn’t just have to be reading on their own, it can be reading to a younger brother or sister, it can be an adult just sitting down and reading to them. Even in third grade, a family reading together is a great thing.”

When it comes to math, Michele says one of the best things parents can do for their children is help them learn their math facts, especially their multiplication tables. It is a key building block for the various levels of math they will learn in the future.

Helping your child with homework isn’t always easy, especially when they transition into middle and high school. Take advantage of free resources, such as KhanAcademy.org. The website offers practice exercises and instructional videos that tackle a variety of topics, including math and science.

Be sure to watch for signs your child may be struggling in a subject—they may become frustrated, anxious or emotional.

“I always tell parents if there are tears with homework, put it away and call me. Let’s work this out because sometimes the tears are about homework and sometimes it’s about something else,” Michele said. “Let’s put our heads together and figure out how to fix this problem because nobody is learning if they’re crying over their homework.”

Michele stresses that communication between the teacher, parent and student is key to a child’s success in the classroom, so make it a point to check in regularly with your child’s teacher. Schools usually have one or two parent-teacher conferences each year. You can also ask to meet with your child's teacher any time during the year. If you can't meet face-to-face, send the teacher an email or set up a time to talk on the phone.

“It has to be a partnership. It has to be working together on the good days and the bad days, working together to figure out what works best for the child.”

Make time to talk with your son or daughter every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they’re more likely to take school seriously.

For additional tips on helping your child thrive in school, click here.

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