Northwest NEWS

August 20, 2001


Guest Editorial: Set the stage for school success

by Karen Lytle Blaha
   Parents can do a lot to help their child succeed in school. Setting the stage for school success is so important in helping children to become good learners.
   From conveying a true parent belief that the child can and will do well in school, to providing a range of tools for learning - books, paper, a quiet place for homework - the home environment constantly sends messages on how the family feels about school and learning. To encourage an environment that says "the job of a child is to learn," here are some tips for this school year:
   Show a sincere interest each day in what your child did in school.
   Establish a daily family routine for meals, homework, family talk, chores, and bedtime.
   Talk with your child about positive values and personal traits, such as respect for self and others, hard work, and responsibility. Walk the talk.
   Support your child's special interests by attending science fairs, plays, concerts, or sports events - even though you're so tired you have to talk yourself into it.
   Use television wisely; limit viewing on school nights.
   Read with your child, even if he or she is older; talk about the text, your thought processes as you read or heard the text. (For example, this story reminds me of our long trip in the car.)
   Stay in touch with your child's teacher; ask how you can support your child's learning.
   Ask your child's teacher to show you examples of successful student work so that you know what your child's performance should look like.
   Tell the principal and/or teacher if the family is experiencing any problems that might affect your child's behavior or learning.
   Monitor your child's activities after school, on weekends, holidays, and vacations. Know who your child is with, and what they're doing.
   These tips are adopted from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory's Parent Information Resource Center Web site ( The site offers a range of timely topics related to learning.
   This column by Karen Lytle Blaha is provided by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, a nonprofit institution.