How Busy Parents Can Help Their Children Learn and Develop
Parents can help their school-age children learn and develop, but parents are often very busy. They may be working two jobs or trying to find a job, going to school, or taking care of other family members.
No matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children. Parents of first- and second-graders in the School Transition Study research project have discovered creative ways to stay involved in their children's learning and development. Researchers conducting the survey learned important and useful tips to share with busy parents everywhere.
Use Your Time Well
- Organize your time. One single parent of four who is going back to school tries hard to organize her class schedule so that she has time with her children. She is able to be home with them in the afternoons on most school days. In another family where the mother and father both work full time, they are able to organize their work schedules so that one of the parents is always at home with the children. One day a week after school, the children walk to their mother's workplace where they wait a short time with her until their father picks them up.
- Do a few things at once. One father arranges to do quiet household chores right beside his daughter who does her homework at the kitchen table. Then the father is there to answer questions. Another mother has her daughter start her homework in the family's car while they are waiting for her older brother to get out of school. The car is a quiet place where they can talk together.
- Make daily routines a time for learning. When one mother walks her girls to school, she uses the time to talk about the unsafe parts of the neighborhood and how the girls can protect themselves. Children are learning all the time, but when you talk to them like this, it can help even more with their learning.
- Find other people to help. One single parent who cannot be home in the afternoon or evening has the babysitter help the children with homework. Another single parent who works two jobs during the summer arranges for her son to get taken to his neighborhood summer program every morning by his grandfather, who lives nearby. When the program is over, the mother's friend takes the child to football practice and then back home, where the mother serves everyone a late dinner. As a busy parent, you can't do everything yourself. One important thing you can do is be the manager, and make arrangements for other people to help.
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