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Tips for Parents:
Homework, School Work, Testing Help and More…

Few people have more experience getting kids excited about reading than librarians who staff school and local libraries. So we asked a few to share what really works and what to do to make sure your kid doesn't take a vacation from reading!

Full of Summer Reading Fun
Visit your local public library because there is so much going on and the enthusiasm of the librarians is infectious. So many libraries do wonderful summer reading programs for all ages. We actually have a program called "Teens & Tots" where older kids read to younger kids — it's great to make that connection between kids and both generations really enjoy it. We also hold a lot of activities at night like story hours so parents can come after work with their children — and we encourage parents to volunteer, which really shows the kids that reading is important to adults as well.

Research shows that if kids continue to read during the summer they don't lose any of the skills, so we try to find ways to motivate kids like having them keep reading logs and giving rewards and prizes. We also hold "Book Bingo" and replace the numbers on the board with book titles and library vocabulary. The kids get really excited to win the books we use as prizes — it's so great to hear a kid yelling, "Yes! Yes! I just need Dewey decimal!"

—Anita LaSpina, Librarian, Rockville Center, NY

Show Children That Reading is Important to You
Model, model, model. It cannot be emphasized enough that children who observe their parents reading become readers themselves. Make sure there is plenty of reading materials scattered throughout the house — not just novels, but magazines and newspapers as well.

Make reading a family activity. When everyone gathers together at the end of a busy summer day, read a book aloud. It's a great way to unwind. A picture book is a fine choice, but reading a book that will last several weeks or more extends the pleasure and excitement.

— Jennifer Hubert Swan, Librarian at the Little Red School House/Elisabeth Irwin High School, New York, NY

Make Reading a Way to Connect
Some children respond better when they know other children are going to read and respond to a book, which is why book discussion groups are great. I also think parents should be required to read what their children read at all ages so they can really connect with their child and be able to answer questions and instigate discussion. This is one of the reasons parent/child book groups are so great.

We also regularly hold online chats with authors of books on our summer reading list, which kids can join from anywhere they can get online. Kids get really excited to ask the authors questions and just talk to a 'real live' writer. We have a regular chat-room just for children to talk about the books that they've read, which is catching on.

— John Peters, Central Children's Room, The New York Public Library

Set Reading Times and Find the Fun in Books
The number one golden rule is to make time to read over the summer — parents should designate an hour a day just for books, or set aside a time once a week to go to the library. There's so much going on in the summer, so much temptation to be outside, that it's important to schedule time just for reading. Have kids keep a reading journal — even if it's just the book titles. Once the journal gets filled up, there's a real sense of accomplishment that's very rewarding.

On vacations, it's important to let kids pick out books they like to make reading fun. Pay attention to what your children like and help them select books — and don't forget about non-fiction — it's not just for homework! There's a lot of rainy day value with cookie cookbooks and craft and activity books.

Make story time fun by creating a story-puppet show. Or have your child use puppets and stuffed animals to create a show based on a book for other kids or the rest of the family. Another fun thing to do is to go on a field trip with a book tie-in or two. And while you're on the road, always keep magazines and books in the car.

— Dorie Freebury, Librarian, Northville, MI

Take Reading on the Road
When preparing for family road trips, stock up on audio books from your library. Let your children choose some stories to listen to in the car. Have family members share favorite ghost stories and/or adventure stories around the campfire at picnics and on camping trips.

— The American Library Association

Read article here.

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The end of school can be a busy time for you and your kids. Here are some tips to help your child transition into summer time fun after finishing off the school year on a high note!

• Cure Spring Fever.
Stick with the routine. Try your best to stick with your child's regular after-school routine. Require homework time and check to make sure she's still meeting deadlines. If a progress report says your child’s work isn’t getting done, make a plan with her to ensure a strong finish.

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• Think Ahead to Summer.
Talk with your child about what they want to do in the summer. Is it camp or your town’s recreation program? Enroll him in a program to that will help him make new friends when school is out. Also remember to make time over the summer for learning. There are several ways kids can improve their skills during the summer so they can return to school with added confidence!

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• Think Ahead to Next Year.
Right now, schools are deciding where to place teachers and students. If you want to request a certain teacher next year, speak with your child's school principal as soon as possible. This is also the time to share with your child's current teacher any concerns you may have about separating your child from another student. For example, you might request to have your child placed in a different class from a friend she's too dependent on. Don’t hesitate to convey any concerns that you think will contribute to your child's success.

Also, do you think your child has special talents? Don’t miss out! Now’s the time to submit parent and teacher referrals for gifted-and-talented programs. An evaluation period may be underway in your school to determine eligibility for programs in the fall.

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• Some Notes About the Final Report Card.
Your child will soon be bringing home his final report card. Take the time to look closely at each grade and compare his marks to those earned previously. Don’t forget to read the teacher’s comments for additional clues about your child’s progress. If you’re having trouble understanding any of the information, contact the school immediately. Remember that teachers only remain in the school building for a few days after school ends.

When a child brings home a great report card, she deserves to be praised. If your child brings home a less-than-perfect report, it won’t help to get visibly upset. Instead, talk to your child about the progress she’s made this year. Whether it’s As, Ds, or grades in between — find the best way to react to your child’s individual situation.

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• Less is More.
Don’t overbook your schedules. With end of year concerts and other special school events on top of the daily workload, your kid has plenty to do. Think twice before adding any other extracurricular activities.

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Parents: Does your high school student sometimes seem overwhelmed by all she needs to get done? Share these helpful tips!

— From

Does it seem like there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done? Feel like you’re always running late? Here are some tips for taking control of your time and organizing your life.

1. Make a "To Do" List Every Day.
Put things that are most important at the top and do them first. If it's easier, use a planner to track all of your tasks. And don’t forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments.

2. Use Spare Minutes Wisely.
Get some reading done on the bus ride home from school, for example, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

3. It's Okay to Say "No."
If your boss asks you to work on a Thursday night and you have a final exam the next morning, realize that it’s okay to say no. Keep your short- and long-term priorities in mind.

4. Find the Right Time.
You’ll work more efficiently if you figure out when you do your best work. For example, if your brain handles math better in the afternoon, don’t wait to do it until late at night.

5. Review Your Notes Every Day.
You’ll reinforce what you’ve learned, so you need less time to study. You’ll also be ready if your teacher calls on you or gives a pop quiz.

6. Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
Running on empty makes the day seem longer and your tasks seem more difficult.

7. Communicate Your Schedule to Others.
If phone calls are proving to be a distraction, tell your friends that you take social calls from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. It may sound silly, but it helps.

8. Become a Taskmaster.
Figure out how much free time you have each week. Give yourself a time budget and plan your activities accordingly.

9. Don’t Waste Time Agonizing.
Have you ever wasted an entire evening by worrying about something that you’re supposed to be doing? Was it worth it? Instead of agonizing and procrastinating, just do it.

10. Keep Things in Perspective.
Setting goals that are unrealistic sets you up for failure. While it’s good to set high goals for yourself, be sure not to overdo it. Set goals that are difficult yet reachable.

Consider these tips, but personalize your habits so that they suit you. If you set priorities that fit your lifestyle, you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goals.

For more information and helpful tips about college planning and success, please click here.

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Research shows that when parents become involved in their children's schoolwork, the children do better in school. One way you can get involved is by helping your child with homework. It will benefit both your child's school work and self-esteem.

One important aspect of helping your child with homework is to find out if the homework is appropriate. If your child is reading or doing mathematics below grade level, the homework should reflect this fact.

Here are ten tips to help with homework:

1. Keep in touch with the teacher or teachers to be fully aware of the quantity and the quality of the homework turned in.

2. Set a schedule, including both a beginning and an ending time. Most kids need some time to unwind after school before they tackle their homework. Doing it too close to bedtime may make it difficult due to fatigue. Fridays are usually the best day for homework that must be completed over the weekend. Assignments are still fresh in mind and last minute panic rushes are avoided.

3. Encourage your child to divide the homework assignment into "What I can do myself" and "What I need help with." You should help only with that part of the homework your child cannot do independently, such as using flashcards, practicing spelling tests, and clarifying assignments. This builds responsibility and independence in your child.

4. Use "Grandma's Rule." Remember that Grandma is reputed to have said that there is no dessert until you are finished with your spinach. Hold off on watching TV and other fun activities until homework is completed.

5. Provide a home study center for your child with adequate light and few distractions. If your child concentrates better with "white noise" (music), provide that help. Also, a dictionary, paper, pens, etc., should be readily available.

6. Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more for accomplishment. "You've spelled 18 out of 20 words correctly--that's the best you've done this semester!"

7. Be available when your child is doing homework, so that you can answer a question if there is confusion. If possible, it is better for you to be in another room, so you are easily accessible and yet not a distraction.

8. Look over the homework when it is completed. Do not correct it unless you have checked with the teacher. Seeing the pattern of errors is often helpful to a teacher.

9. Study groups are often a good strategy. Your child may benefit from studying with one or two classmates. However, make sure they are using the time to study.

10. Allow bathroom, drink, and/or snack breaks, but insist on completion of tasks.

A Reprint from the Parent Journal, Autumn 1994. All contents © and ™ 1997, 1998, 1999. Schwab Foundation for Learning. All Rights Reserved.

Any interested person or organization may copy or reprint portions of this article provided such copy may not be sold or otherwise used for commercial purposes and any such copy must contain the above stated copyright notice.

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With midterm exams fast approaching, here are some tips for how to tackle those tricky multiple choice questions!

  1. Read the directions carefully.
  2. Answer each question in your mind before reading the possible answers, this will help eliminate the possibility of being confused by those choices.
  3. Mark questions you cannot answer immediately and come back to them if you have time.
  4. If you have no clue as to what the answer is, use the following guidelines to help you guess (if you are not penalized for guessing):
  5. If two of the answers are similar, except for one of two words, choose the more reasonable answer of the two.
  6. If two of the answers have similar sounding or looking words (i.e., intermediate, intermittent), choose one of them.
  7. If two of the answers have quantities are almost the same, choose one of them.
  8. If the answer calls for a sentence completion, eliminate the answers that would not form grammatically correct sentences.
  9. If answers cover a wide range (i.e., 4.5, 66.7, 88.7, 90.1, 55.011), choose one in the middle.
  10. If there is no penalty for guessing and none of the above techniques work, close your eyes and go for it!

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  1. Personalized note from you or your child
  2. Home-baked goodies (be sure to check about any allergies)
  3. Teacher Supply Box (hand sanitizer, soap, tissues, colored pens or pencils, notepads, stickers, etc.)
  4. Gift certificate to a local education store or book store
  5. Magazine subscription for the classroom – National Geographic Kids, Highlights, or whatever is relevant to the teacher’s discipline.
  6. A low-maintenance plant to brighten up the classroom. Attach a note from your child that says, “Thanks for helping me grow!”.
  7. Gifts that will help the classroom: Educational board games, puzzles, or books for the classroom library
  8. Donations in a teacher’s name to a national or local charity. Try to find out if there is something in which your child’s teacher has a special interest.
  9. Gift certificate for your teacher to take a well-deserved break: great ideas are local restaurants, coffee houses or movie tickets. Teachers also love an opportunity to receive pampering at a local salon or spa.
  10. A coupon for donating your time in the classroom – it could be an offer to read aloud to the class for one period, or organize a craft for the kids around a special day.

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Get a sense of your child's life at school by asking questions that elicit more than a one-word response. The trick is to ask about things that are specific but open-ended and invite your child to describe his world. It's also great to start the conversation with an anecdote from your own day. Try one of these conversation-starters:

  1. Tell me about the best part of your day.
  2. What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
  3. Did any of your classmates do anything funny?
  4. Tell me about what you read in class.
  5. Who did you play with today? What did you play?
  6. Do you think math [or any subject] is too easy or too hard?
  7. What's the biggest difference between this year and last year?
  8. What rules are different at school than our rules at home? Do you think they're fair?
  9. Who did you sit with at lunch?
  10. Can you show me something you learned (or did) today?

Read more.

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The important thing for parents to remember is that they are the most important teachers in their child’s life. Children are born eager to learn, but parents need to help them channel that learning. Here are a few suggestions for activities to enjoy with your child:

1. Read, read, and read to your child for at least 15 minutes every day. Take turns reading with your older child — you read one page, she reads the next — or establish a family reading time when everyone reads her own book.

2. Read articles in the newspaper and magazines together. Go to the public library.

3. Watch news and documentaries on TV. Rent or buy educational videos.

4. Encourage him to express his opinion, talk about his feelings, and make choices. This will build his confidence to participate in school discussions and activities. Be sure to establish parameters for his choices, since you don't want to criticize his decisions.

5. Help her develop hobbies and interests, and ensure she has the tools she needs to pursue them.

6. Visit natural history museums, science museums, art museums, children's museums, zoos, botanical gardens, and historical sites.

7. Experience national or state parks and forests. Sign up for a tour.

8. Make vacations learning experiences.

9. Plan “theme” parties that involve some research. For example, an American Revolution costume party, a play, or a display of inventions of the time.

10. Point out the new things you learn with enthusiasm. Discuss the different ways you find new information, showing her that learning is both fun and challenging.

For more information click here and here.

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“Top Ten” Reasons to Study the Classics
(source unknown, unfortunately)

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Try these presents to promote a love for books.
By: Cara Pitterman

1. Comfy Chair. Before your child opens a book, she'll need a place for cozy reading! Look for a cushy chair to put in a well-lit corner of her bedroom. Then she'll have a place separate from her desk to read her favorite books.

2. Boxed Set of Beloved Books. Does your child have a favorite series? Make sure he'll be able to read every word of the adventures by presenting him with a boxed set of books. Some sets, like Harry Potter, include every book. Others, like A Series of Unfortunate Events or Captain Underpants, come in various packs, allowing you to select the one that fits best in your child's home library.

3. Bookmark that Makes a Statement. A bookmark makes an ideal stocking stuffer. Bookstores now carry elaborate, character-decorated page-keepers, so choose one that features your child's favorite themes or friends.

4. Mug Filled with Hugs. What could be better than snuggling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows? Make reading an inviting experience this season with a personalized mug. Try one with an inscription such as his name, "Muggle's Mug," or "#1 Reader." Tip: When you wrap it up in your child's stocking, add a touch of sweetness by filling it with peppermints, Hershey Kisses or Hugs, or other treats.

5. Crafty Coloring Books. Coloring books are another form of storytelling. Your child can use crayons or markers to render what's going on in the picture, which nurtures imagination.

6. Word of the Day Calendar. Keep track of the date and improve vocabulary at the same time with a Word of the Day calendar. Another, newer option is a Magnetic Poetry calendar, which comes with a magnetic board and a word bank for creating poetry. Both foster a love for words, and in turn, reading.

7. Lighten Up with a Lamp. Brighten your child's holiday! Invest in a practical yet punchy reading light for his bedroom. You'll find a variety of inexpensive, fun lamps, with innovative designs or character themes, to choose from.

8. Magazine Subscription Surprise. Support your child's interests by giving a gift that will last for a whole year: a subscription to a magazine. With so many publications available on everything from sports, nature, fashion, current events, and more, it'll be a snap to find one that she'll look forward to every month.

9. Personalized Journal or Diary. Add a fun writing pen, and unlock your child's imagination. Journals encourage personal writing and doodling, and help develop ideas and opinions. Plus, the more your child writes, the more she'll want to read!

10. Boredom-Busting Activity Books. Exercise your child's brain with crossword puzzles, word finds, and MadLibs when he's stuck indoors during the blustery winter season. He'll improve his spelling, vocabulary, and interest in exploring books!

Read more.

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