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Coaching Your Child        < Previous        Next >


Book Bag Boogie


Q. How can parents get more informed about what goes on each day at school?


Easy. Just do the "Book Bag Boogie."


As soon as you can, each day after school, meet with your child, open up the child's backpack and go through it together.


Make it a daily ritual.


Too many parents stay frustrated that they don't really know much about their child's school work because when they ask how things are going, the most their child ever says is "fine."


The key is for you to look at and touch your child's schoolwork. It's a tangible "icebreaker" that will get a conversation going. And it tells your child that what goes on in school is important to you.


Ask your child to show you what's different each day: a newly-assigned book, a new page of math problems, a graded test, a completed worksheet, a new chapter of a textbook to be read, or a note about an upcoming event.


This process will help you keep an eye on things that go on in classrooms that you otherwise would have no way of knowing:


n       A teacher with poor spelling, as evidenced by handwritten notes on your child's papers, or typed instructions to the students.


n       Assigned novels, especially in grades 5-8, with content that is on inappropriately mature themes and if it were put in movie form would carry a PG or R rating.


n       Your child's tendency to make careless mistakes on tests due to rushing, while homework, with less time pressure, is very well-done.


Ask a question each day. Remember the 80-20 rule: make 80% of the input to your child praise or neutral, and 20% or less critical. The smarter your child, in fact, the less criticism you should give; perfectionists tend to exaggerate it to the point of dysfunctional thinking.


However you go about it, give your child center stage for just a moment after school to emphasize how important learning is:


"Neat! Where on earth did you get that great idea?"


"How did you double-check that math problem?"


"Does this story remind you of any stories you've read before? Which one? Why?"


Your child will probably pooh-pooh you a lot. But keep doing it anyway. Treat school like a gift, because it is. Open up that book bag, and let your child share what he or she "got" that day.


Homework: More help for your child:


By Susan Darst Williams Coaching Your Child 21 2008


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