Facts for Families

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School and Homework Tips for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

August is the time of year when parents are busy getting their children ready to go back to school. Registering, shopping for school supplies, providing emotional support. But what about grandparents that are raising their grandchildren? It might have been awhile since they raised their own children, and for their "second time around", I have some practical ideas and tips from U of I Extension "Parenting Again" website that will help make the school year a success!

  • Prepare your grandchildren for school. Make sure they go to school fed and well rested.
  • Limit outside activities to avoid burnout. Children can only do so much. If they have too many extra-curricular activities, they may be too tired to do homework.
  • Take time to read. Children are more likely to read if adults around them read. Take your grandkids to the library and bring home some books for them and yourself. Also read together aloud. Ask the children what the book was about and why the characters acted as they did.
  • Encourage sharing. Ask your grandchildren about school. Listen closely and respond with empathy when things aren't going well. This interaction fosters better students and stronger relationships.
  • Monitor screen time. Limit the amount of hours that the television and video game devices are on. Choose TV shows and watch together - use it as an opportunity to share your family values.

We all know that home life affects children's success at school. So what can you do to help ensure that your grandchildren succeed?

  • Start by creating an environment that encourages learning. Provide a special space for homework that is quiet and away from distractions. Keep the area supplied with frequently needed items like paper, pencils, tape, paper clips, ruler, calculator, and a dictionary .If a separate desk or table isn't feasible, use part of a dining room or kitchen table. A box with school supplies can be brought to the table when it's study time.
  • Talk about homework. Help the children manage homework by breaking it into smaller segments. Help them to learn how to pace their work. Check homework for completeness, but don't do the assignments for them. Complete one or two examples together and let them do the rest. If they don't do their own work, they won't do well on tests and other assignments.
  • Have the grandchildren write down the name and phone number of one student in each class to call for help or missed class notes.
  • Pay attention to how your grandchildren learn. Some need a quiet private area, but others need coaching. If the children aren't doing well in school, ask for help. Early diagnosis of learning difficulties, vision problems or hearing loss reduces their risk of failure in school.
  • Establish a homework routine to make it part of everyday activities. Emphasize that homework is not "optional." Study time could be when the children get home from school, before supper, or before television or playtime. Let them help set the time.
  • School is not only stressful for children, but it can also be stressful for you. Memories of past school experiences may cause a bias. Realize that schoolwork has changed and may cause you to feel uncomfortable. Remember that it's okay to tell the children you don't know the answer - but, then work to find the answer. What you then teach the children are valuable problem-solving skills.
  • Support the teachers. If you think teachers are assigning too much homework, make an appointment to discuss the matter - without the children. If you complain to the teacher in front of the children, it encourages them to question the teacher's authority - and that can lead to discipline problems.
  • And last but not least, be a role model. When children see you reading or enrolling in an adult education class, they get the message that learning is important. Visit the public library as a family and take advantage of the books, videos, audio tapes, Internet access and educational programs that are available. Just remember, reading, writing and math are important skills. But other skills like setting priorities, managing time, and solving problems also impact children's ability to succeed in school and in life.

Check out the Parenting Again website at http://extension.illinois.edu/grandparents/ for more information on raising grandchildren, or contact one of our family life educators who author the Family Files blog at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hkmw/eb380/

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