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Parents Can Help Their Child Succeed In School

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Stacey Bonner, Family Services Coordinator, interviewed Gini Pupo-Walker, Executive Director of Family and Community Partnerships at Metro Nashville Public Schools, to discuss ways parents can help their child succeed in school.

Begin Transcript

Stacey Bonner:        Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Stacey Bonner with the Child and Family Center.  As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher.  When parents are involved in their child’s academic performance, the child does better and has a better feeling about school.  Gini Pupo-Walker, Executive Director of Family and Community Partnerships at Metro Nashville Public Schools has joined me to discuss ways parents can help their child succeed in school.  Gini, how important is it to develop a partnership with your child’s teacher and school staff?

Gini Pupo-Walker:     The partnership between a child’s parents and the teachers and school staff is critical.  So, you have to think of it as a team effort so that parent is part of the team with maybe a teacher and a counselor and whoever else that child interacts with to sort of all be on board together to make sure that the child is successful so the parent knows what the child’s strengths are coming  in the beginning of the year where they need help and that teacher needs that information in that sort of connection with home to get off on the right foot.  So, if a parent and a teacher have a good relationship from the beginning, then where there are questions going into the school year or concerns or issues then they already have established a relationship where they can problem solve together.  So, that partnership is critical so that child feels that there are people both at home and at school that are supporting them.

Stacey Bonner:        What ways can a parent support their child academically?

Gini Pupo-Walker:     Research shows that even if you cannot help your child with math, for example, I cannot help my child with her math anymore, it is over my head, but the most important thing a parent can do is encourage.  So, you can encourage and give messages of support that school is important, success is important, I expect you to do your best every day, get to school on time,  work hard, sort of instilling that  ethic  of the importance of school and working hard and then really staying like I said in touch with teachers, staying in touch with what their grades are, where they are fallen behind, and doing things that promote learning at home, trips to the school library, trips to the zoo, trips to things that are happening around town that might be free that encourage reading, encourage thinking, encourage creativity, and then you promote the idea that learning is something that happens everywhere including at school and that learning can happen at home and then really making sure that child feels like anything is possible that they can do anything they put their mind to.

Stacey Bonner:          What can a parent do at home to help that child?

Gini Pupo-Walker:     Well, critical pieces of routine having a set routine and that includes a morning routine, you get up at the same time, you have sort of that same routine, we eat breakfast together or we have a breakfast routine, and they are out the door without being flustered, without the big fights about getting the shoes and getting the backpack, all of that stuff done night before, and so they start their day without that stress in the home setting of racing out the door and then they get to school and as soon as they get home you sort of have a routine if it is review what is in the backpack, looking through the folder, looking on what we use as GradeSpeed to look at grades, what assignments  are coming up, what is due, looking at an agenda, and then having a place in the home where it is a dedicated space for the child to work, even if it the kitchen table.  My children have their favorite place still to do homework is at the kitchen table, and so in that case you clear off that table free of distractions, TV is off, phones are put away, and kids can really focus on doing their homework.  You can set up breaks, so I know for my son if you say we are going work for 50 minutes and then we are going to have a 10-minute break and you can check your phone, you can do whatever you need to do, and then we are going to get back to work, and so having those set routines and then having a bedtime that you can enforce so that they get enough sleep and that is important even once they are in high school to make sure that they are getting the sleep they need to get up and start all over again.

Stacey Bonner:        How crucial is it for your child to be at school on time and everyday?

Gini Pupo-Walker:     We  know that attendance is one of the primary reasons kids fall behind in school, and we see it start even with kindergarten where parents feel like kindergarten is a lot of playing, and so it is optional to attend everyday, but in fact, kindergarten and even pre-K is a place where kids are really mastering important fundamental early skills, letters, numbers, phonemic awareness, learning how to read, learning how to work with other kids, learning routines, and so coming to school on time so you are there for that what we call that morning meeting where kids check in, talk with the teacher, talk with their peers, get started on the right foot first thing in the morning.  If they come in late, they  miss that critical piece and they come in already behind.  It is not unlike you coming to work late, you feel flustered for the next three hours just because you got to the work late.  So, getting to school a little bit early so they can get their stuff put away in their desk, focused ready to learn before the bell rings is so important, and then we know that kids miss far too much  school.  Even if you miss 2 days a month, that leads to 20 absences a year, and that is the equivalent of a month of learning lost.  So, really if your child says my stomach hurts, it may be that they are nervous about something. You may want to explore that.  If you feel like that child says well I just want to stay at home that I am really tired the message you have to deliver is this is not unlike my job.  I have to go even when I am tired, and so attendance is so important for them to be there to gain that knowledge.

Stacey Bonner:        You said a lot of things that parents can do throughout the school year.  Should helping your child succeed  stop at the end of school year or should this continue throughout the summer months?

Gini Pupo-Walker:     Summer is a critical what we call something called the summer learning loss and that is where kids will lose some of the knowledge that they have gained over the school year and come back again and teachers have to sort of remediate and reteach some of the important components from the year before.  So, parents can do any number of things.  I mean obviously they are camps and there are programs and enrichment that cost money, but there are many things you can do in the summer that are free.  Our public libraries have fantastic programs all summer, book clubs, all kinds of different things they host during the summer.   They have puppet shows.  Our schools have summer camps that are very low cost or free art camps, enrichment camps, science camps, really encourage parents to do that.  We also have now a virtual school which is an interesting option for middle school and high school parents where kids can actually take a course online in the summer, a course that might not be offered at their school, it could be in a foreign language, it could be a science class, it could be a creative writing class, and that is an opportunity for a kid if you feel like they are going to be home a lot over the summer to just get that extra high school credit that they can even get a high school credit in middle school if they do that, but it is really important to encourage reading, encourage doing that.  Lot of our schools, I think all of our schools require summer book reading to not wait till the last 3 weeks to get that done, to work on it over the summer.  I know a lot of families who will read that book together.  So, at the 8th grade summer reading list, the whole family will read one of those books together as an experience and share what that book is about and talk about at the dinner table.  That sort of thing really tells your child that this work is important that we value it.

Stacey Bonner:        Thanks Gini.

Gini Pupo-Walker:     Thank you.

Stacey Bonner:        Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast by clicking the “Add New Comment” link at the bottom of this page.  If you have a story suggestion, please email us at health.wellness@vanderbilt.edu or you can use the “Contact Us” link on our website at healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu.

— end of recording  —

 

Stacey Bonner: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Stacey Bonner with the Child and Family Center. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. When parents are involved in their child’s academic performance, the child does better and has a better feeling about school. Gini Pupo-Walker, Executive Director of Family and Community Partnerships at Metro Nashville Public Schools has joined me to discuss ways parents can help their child succeed in school. Gini, how important is it to develop a partnership with your child’s teacher and school staff?

Gini Pupo-Walker: The partnership between a child’s parents and the teachers and school staff is critical. So, you have to think of it as a team effort so that parent is part of the team with maybe a teacher and a counselor and whoever else that child interacts with to sort of all be on board together to make sure that the child is successful so the parent knows what the child’s strengths are coming in the beginning of the year where they need help and that teacher needs that information in that sort of connection with home to get off on the right foot. So, if a parent and a teacher have a good relationship from the beginning, then where there are questions going into the school year or concerns or issues then they already have established a relationship where they can problem solve together. So, that partnership is critical so that child feels that there are people both at home and at school that are supporting them.

Stacey Bonner: What ways can a parent support their child academically?

Gini Pupo-Walker: Research shows that even if you cannot help your child with math, for example, I cannot help my child with her math anymore, it is over my head, but the most important thing a parent can do is encourage. So, you can encourage and give messages of support that school is important, success is important, I expect you to do your best every day, get to school on time, work hard, sort of instilling that ethic of the importance of school and working hard and then really staying like I said in touch with teachers, staying in touch with what their grades are, where they are fallen behind, and doing things that promote learning at home, trips to the school library, trips to the zoo, trips to things that are happening around town that might be free that encourage reading, encourage thinking, encourage creativity, and then you promote the idea that learning is something that happens everywhere including at school and that learning can happen at home and then really making sure that child feels like anything is possible that they can do anything they put their mind to.

Stacey Bonner: What can a parent do at home to help that child?

Gini Pupo-Walker: Well, critical pieces of routine having a set routine and that includes a morning routine, you get up at the same time, you have sort of that same routine, we eat breakfast together or we have a breakfast routine, and they are out the door without being flustered, without the big fights about getting the shoes and getting the backpack, all of that stuff done night before, and so they start their day without that stress in the home setting of racing out the door and then they get to school and as soon as they get home you sort of have a routine if it is review what is in the backpack, looking through the folder, looking on what we use as GradeSpeed to look at grades, what assignments are coming up, what is due, looking at an agenda, and then having a place in the home where it is a dedicated space for the child to work, even if it the kitchen table. My children have their favorite place still to do homework is at the kitchen table, and so in that case you clear off that table free of distractions, TV is off, phones are put away, and kids can really focus on doing their homework. You can set up breaks, so I know for my son if you say we are going work for 50 minutes and then we are going to have a 10-minute break and you can check your phone, you can do whatever you need to do, and then we are going to get back to work, and so having those set routines and then having a bedtime that you can enforce so that they get enough sleep and that is important even once they are in high school to make sure that they are getting the sleep they need to get up and start all over again.

Stacey Bonner: How crucial is it for your child to be at school on time and everyday?

Gini Pupo-Walker: We know that attendance is one of the primary reasons kids fall behind in school, and we see it start even with kindergarten where parents feel like kindergarten is a lot of playing, and so it is optional to attend everyday, but in fact, kindergarten and even pre-K is a place where kids are really mastering important fundamental early skills, letters, numbers, phonemic awareness, learning how to read, learning how to work with other kids, learning routines, and so coming to school on time so you are there for that what we call that morning meeting where kids check in, talk with the teacher, talk with their peers, get started on the right foot first thing in the morning. If they come in late, they miss that critical piece and they come in already behind. It is not unlike you coming to work late, you feel flustered for the next three hours just because you got to the work late. So, getting to school a little bit early so they can get their stuff put away in their desk, focused ready to learn before the bell rings is so important, and then we know that kids miss far too much school. Even if you miss 2 days a month, that leads to 20 absences a year, and that is the equivalent of a month of learning lost. So, really if your child says my stomach hurts, it may be that they are nervous about something. You may want to explore that. If you feel like that child says well I just want to stay at home that I am really tired the message you have to deliver is this is not unlike my job. I have to go even when I am tired, and so attendance is so important for them to be there to gain that knowledge.

Stacey Bonner: You said a lot of things that parents can do throughout the school year. Should helping your child succeed stop at the end of school year or should this continue throughout the summer months?

Gini Pupo-Walker: Summer is a critical what we call something called the summer learning loss and that is where kids will lose some of the knowledge that they have gained over the school year and come back again and teachers have to sort of remediate and reteach some of the important components from the year before. So, parents can do any number of things. I mean obviously they are camps and there are programs and enrichment that cost money, but there are many things you can do in the summer that are free. Our public libraries have fantastic programs all summer, book clubs, all kinds of different things they host during the summer. They have puppet shows. Our schools have summer camps that are very low cost or free art camps, enrichment camps, science camps, really encourage parents to do that. We also have now a virtual school which is an interesting option for middle school and high school parents where kids can actually take a course online in the summer, a course that might not be offered at their school, it could be in a foreign language, it could be a science class, it could be a creative writing class, and that is an opportunity for a kid if you feel like they are going to be home a lot over the summer to just get that extra high school credit that they can even get a high school credit in middle school if they do that, but it is really important to encourage reading, encourage doing that. Lot of our schools, I think all of our schools require summer book reading to not wait till the last 3 weeks to get that done, to work on it over the summer. I know a lot of families who will read that book together. So, at the 8th grade summer reading list, the whole family will read one of those books together as an experience and share what that book is about and talk about at the dinner table. That sort of thing really tells your child that this work is important that we value it.

Stacey Bonner: Thanks Gini.

Gini Pupo-Walker: Thank you.

Stacey Bonner: Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast by clicking the “Add New Comment” link at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please email us at health.wellness@vanderbilt.edu or you can use the “Contact Us” link on our website at healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu.

— end of recording (07:37) —


Posted on Friday, August 8, 2014 in Child and Family Center, Wellcasts.



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