How Parents Can Help
I am often asked by parents, "What can I do to help my son? You lost me in pre-algebra." Being current in your algebraic and geometric skills is NOT what's most beneficial to your son. After many years of observation and experience as both a teacher and a parent of two MUS graduates (a parent who needed to be strong enough at times to implement her own advice), I offer the following suggestions with the highest regard for your parenting skills.
(1) Provide a quiet, well-lighted place for him to study. However, please understand that just because he is positioned at this place (usually his room) does not mean he is studying.
(2) Encourage your son especially when the "going gets tough." Avoid clichés such as, "I was never very good at geometry either. It's in your genes." That immediately affirms to him that his efforts are useless and gives him the convenient excuse he's been searching for.
(3) Help your son understand the need to persevere. Often, persistent effort is the key to mastering a new and difficult concept or skill. Not only will he learn much of value from the process, but he'll retain the knowledge gained much longer.
(4) Do not over-extend your son in extracurricular activities, and do not permit him to over-extend himself. This necessarily means establishing priorities, a valuable lesson to learn at any age. To combine any extracurricular activities with studies at MUS requires time management skills.
(5) Do not, as a rule, indulge your son in "things" for which he has not worked. In the first place, he will not value that which is given as much as what is earned. Second, what is learned from all that is freely given transfers to all aspects of life, including school. Children will hold out for the easy way, the easy answer; will not persevere; will frustrate easily, especially when the "going gets tough." If he does not learn to work for "things," he will not work for grades.
(6) Give your son responsibilities and hold him accountable. Let him know that you trust him to be responsible (appropriate to his age and/or maturity); but, if he's not, love him enough to invoke consequences. "Tough love" is often the most generous love that can be offered. Making excuses for him or seeking to blame others does not deliver a good message to anyone. Instead, it encourages irresponsibility and arrogance.
(7) Be there for him if he seeks your help, but never push your help on him. He will rebel sooner or later, one way or another.
(8) Encourage consistent attendance at school. What is lost will never be fully recouped. Please plan family trips and medical appointments around school, not school around such activities.
(9) Show interest in your son's work. In fact, ask to see his math notebook and quizzes. Avoid asking just for a grade or commenting just on the grade. Ask him to explain his mistakes to you and why his answers are incorrect or incomplete. We often learn best by teaching others.
(10) Never hesitate to communicate with me. I prefer e-mail email@example.com for initial contact. I am extremely interested in your son's well being and success in my class. Policies we fully understand are, by far, easier for all of us to accept and support . Communication among all team members is vital to the "big picture."
I sincerely thank you for sharing your son with me!