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Helpful Strategies for Parents

Parents are the best people to recognize all of the good and not so good aspects of their children. We thrive on the good aspects--praising successes, admiring their growth, and cheering them on when they overcome challenges. When faced with those "not so good" aspects of your child's personality or behavior, many parents struggle with what to call it, how to handle it, and where to find help. We recommended that parents observe your child's behavior. Take note of what he/she does and does not do. And above all, talk to your child's doctor(s), teachers, and school mental health workers such as psychologists and social workers.  


Homework Strategies Homework

  1. Set up a workstation that free from distractions, provides all necessary school materials and has good lighting.
  2. Position your child with his or her feet planted on the ground or on a footrest.
  3. Choose the best time to begin homework based on your child’s needs. Consider the time of the day, the setting, the demands of the school day, your child’s physical health and your family’s schedule.
  4. Allow sufficient time for your child to complete the assignments.
  5. Review the assignments with your child. Use a highlighter to identify the important elements of the directions.
  6. Encourage your child to organize and prioritize the tasks.
  7. Have your child begin the task and monitor his/her understanding of the task.
  8. Provide your child with frequent praise for his or her effort… “I like the way you are focusing on your math homework.”
  9. Some children benefit from the use of a timer to monitor progress toward task completion.
  10. Encourage your child to engage in stretching exercises after sitting for 20 minutes – movement breaks can reduce fatigue and support attention to task.
  11. Monitor the completion and organization of homework assignments.
  12. Encourage your child to seek teacher support regarding his or her frustrations with particular questions or assignments.


Improving Study Skills: “The What, Where, When and How of Studying”Studying


Help your child determine the following:

                What will the test cover?

                What specific information do I need to study?

                What materials do I need to study?


Help your child determine the best place to study:

Keep in mind that some children benefit from studying in a quiet setting while others prefer to do so with noise and activity.


Help your child create a study schedule to avoid cramming the night before a test.

Does your child prefer to study in the morning, after school or in the evening?

It is advised that students begin to review and study material a week prior to a test date.

Students tend to study best when provided with shorter blocks of work time (e.g., 20 – 30 minutes).

Build short breaks into study sessions.


When studying for tests, your child needs to develop an organized system for keeping track of information.  You can encourage your child to:

  • Use colored highlighters or Post-It notes to flag important information in class notes and textbooks
  • Display information in graphic organizers – charts, story maps, graphs, etc.
  • Summarize orally to you what he/she has read to check for comprehension.

 Support for the Anxious Test-Taker

Some students feel worried and anxious about taking tests.  Sometimes anxiety can impede a student’s performance on a test, even when he or she has prepared for it.  If your child appears anxious when studying for tests, the following suggestions will be helpful:

  • Encourage your child to focus on his/her strengths.

“Remember, you have a really good memory and be confident in your skills.”

  • Help your child put the test in perspective.

“Remember, this is just one test. You have worked so hard on your class work and homework. It will be fine if you make some mistakes.”

  • Emphasize the importance of your child’s effort and the strategies used – not the grade.

“You studied so well for the math test and you should be so proud of your hard work.”

  • Remind your child to practice mindfulness strategies such as affirmations and breathing techniques – before and during the test.
  • Encourage your child to be well rested and to eat a nutritional breakfast prior to the test.


Learning ChallengesLearning Challenges

Lauren is a second-grade student with a learning disability in the area of reading.  At home, Lauren often cries when she has to do homework… she calls herself “stupid” and “dumb”… she asks her parents “Why can’t I read like the kids in my class?”

Many children have a misunderstanding and misconceptions of their learning challenges or disabilities.

It is important to inform children of their learning difficulties… 

A learning disability is a disorder which interferes with a child’s ability to store, process or produce information and impedes a child’s ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations.

Prior to speaking to your child….

Seek the advice and suggestions from your child’s pediatrician, teachers, related service providers and the school psychologist.

When speaking to your child…

  • Keep in mind the child’s age and language skills
  • The conversation needs to be in a sensitive and age-appropriate way – use of clinical terms may be considered as your child matures
  • The conversation should be a series of talks over time… A child’s level of understanding and questions change over time.
  • Carefully observe and listen to your child – focus on what your child says and does
  • Encourage your child to ask questions
  • Continually remind the child that he has a strong support system including his parents, siblings, grandparents, family and teachers.


Explain to your child that he has a different and unique way of learning.

Some learning may take longer and might be done in a different way than classmates.

Focus on strategies that support his/her learning – identify the accommodations that support your child’s learning

Difficulty remembering information – like the names of things, number facts

Difficulty putting the sounds together to make words

Difficulty re-telling the story that you read

Difficulty copying letters, words, and numbers

Difficulty telling or writing your ideas


Identify the specialist that are working with your child to support their learning – general education teacher, special education teacher, speech pathologist and occupational therapist

Mrs. (Special Education Teacher) is teaching you ways to learn how to ______________.

Mrs. (Occupational Therapist) is helping you to write your letters and numbers.

Mrs. (Speech Pathologist) is teaching you ways to remember information, like words and to follow directions.


Improve Confidence;

  1. Reframe your child’s negative statements about himself.

“I am so dumb. I can’t read.”

“Reading is hard for you, but you tell great stories.


  1. Let your child know that we all have strengths and weaknesses.

Important to explore the student’s passions and strengths to overcome weaknesses – include these interests in reading, projects, etc.

Strike a balance between what your child can do and what is difficult for your child.

Ask your child to identify his/her strengths… interests


  1. Praise your child’s effort – not the outcome  

Let your child know that you recognize his/her hard work, attention to detail, problem-solving approaches, and creativity


  1. Teach your child to be a problem-solver: guide your child in his/her problem-solving effort.


  1. Let your child make his/her own choices.

When children make their own – age-appropriate – choices, they feel more powerful and therefore more confident.


Social InteractionFriendship

1. Children often perceive the size of a problem the way adults perceive the size of a problem. Do not assume the worst. 


2. Use objective language. Try to avoid the use of the word "bully." *Remember the four hallmarks of bullying*


3. Encourage children to use objective language. Often times children will use subjective language like, "He was so mean to me." Try to learn the facts. Ask, "What did he do that was mean?" 


4. Often times peer conflict is due to lack of communication or miscommunication. A student may unintentionally offend another without realizing. Always ask your child if he/she told the offending student he/she was hurt (i.e., "Did you try to stick up for yourself?" "Did you use an I-statement?").


5. If your child has not yet asserted him/herself, offer the opportunity to do so. 


6. Follow up the next day. When following up, avoid specific reference to the conflict situation. Avoid questions like, "Was she mean to you today?" Instead, use open-ended language like, "How was school today?" "What did you do/who did you play with at recess?" 


7. If your child has asserted him/herself, yet is still feeling mistreated encourage the child to seek adult assistance. 


8. Avoid recalling or referring to a conflict after it has been resolved. 


9. Create a safe environment for sharing. It can be difficult for parents to see their children in distress so it is important to handle your own emotions. Maintain calm and listen to your child with understanding, sympathy, and loving support. To help them feel comforted and safe, allow them to express themselves openly and honestly without fear of a negative or emotional reaction.


10. Model positive conflict resolution. Modeling positive conflict resolution, including reflection and empathy, creative problem solving, impulse and emotion control, and good communication skills provide a valuable example for your children.