The Parent Connection: What you can do to improve your child's education

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A new study of the American family's passion points from Just Kids, Inc. reveals that most families (45 percent) agree schools and education are their top priority. Yet, parent involvement in their children's education is at an all-time low.

"Of all the choices we as parents will make, decisions about our children's education are among the most important," says Rose Fernandez, parent advocate and founder of the National Parent Network for Online Learning.

If you want to be more involved in your child's education, try implementing these ABCs.

A
Ask - Ask children specific questions about the school day. What projects are they excited about? What did they learn in a particular class? How did they feel? What were the highs and lows of the day? Ask, and then really listen to their answers.
Advise -Help them establish a study routine, figure out how to use their time wisely and organize their notes, papers and supplies. Show them how to break large tasks into smaller ones so they won't be overwhelmed.
Advocate -If you see that your child is struggling - or isn't challenged enough - you can talk with teachers and counselors to get the help or additional resources they need.

B
Balance -It's important that students learn how to lead a well-rounded and balanced life. Encourage your child to join a club or sport, or participate in other extra-curricular activities.
Be Proactive - If problems arise, don't wait to take action. Initiate dialogue with your child and with the teacher or counselor so that together you can find the best solution.
Build Relationships - Get to know the teachers and administrators at your child's school. Build relationships with other parents, and get involved on committees that affect the school. You can be a much stronger advocate for your child if you have relationships with the people involved in their education.

C
Create Space - Make sure your child has an appropriate place and environment in which to study. There needs to be room to spread out books, good lighting, and necessary tools such as dictionaries or calculators. Some students need a very quiet environment while others do better with some background noise. Suit the study space to your child.
Challenge - Don't let your child do just enough to get by. Find out what he or she is interested in and challenge them to stretch their minds in that subject. If your school doesn't offer a subject your child would like to study, or if the classes aren't sufficiently challenging, consider an online course for enrichment or extra credit.
Communicate - Keep the lines of communication open with your student and your school. Make sure your child knows your expectations - and when you are proud of his or her efforts and achievements. Stay on top of school communications tools such as newsletters and bulletins. Go to parent-teacher conferences.

Other Options to Help Your Child Succeed
Traditional brick-and-mortar education isn't the best fit for every student. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that school districts across the country had an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in online education courses for the 2009-2010 school year.

"I enrolled my children in Wisconsin Virtual Academy, an online learning school which offered a high-quality, personalized education program," said Fernandez. "It had a rich mixture of online and offline teaching tools, integrated lesson plans, and assessments to make sure my children mastered a particular area before moving on at their own pace. It met the needs of my children, and made it easy for me to get and stay involved." You can find out more about online learning at www.K12.com.

Courtesy of Family Features