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Parents can't take tests for their children, sit in their desks at school or complete their homework assignments for them. But they can help their kids learn certain skills and foster discipline that will help them do better in school and, ultimately, be more productive citizens.
The following general tips, in questions-and-answer format, come from a family resource center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. If you have more specific questions or concerns, please consult your child's teacher or principal.
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What else can I do to help my child succeed in school?
* Ask the teacher for ideas on how you can help your child learn more at home and show your support for special interests by attending science fairs, plays, musical events, class trips or sporting events. Read with your child, even if he or she is older, and show an interest in what is done in school each day.
* Use television wisely. Limit television viewing to one to two hours on a school night.
* Tell your child that you believe he or she can do well in school. Stress that students get good grades by hard work and not just because "some students are smart." Offer praise and encouragement for achievement and improvement.
* Enroll your child in an after-school program that links learning in the after-school hours with what takes place in the regular school program.
* Establish a daily family routine of meal-times, time for homework and chores, bedtime and time for family work.
* Monitor your child's activities after school, in the evenings and on weekends. Many working parents can arrange for children to check in after school and discuss their plans by phone.
* Talk with your child about positive values and personal traits, such as respect for self and others, hard work and responsibility. Show your values by your actions.
* If you need help with a school-related problem, contact your child's teacher, the school counselor or principal.

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How can I encourage my child to read?
# ead yourself. When your child sees you reading the newspaper or curling up with a book, he or she will want to follow your example. Make sure that your child reads on his or her own or that you or someone else reads to him or her daily. Reading is a skill. Children who spend at least 30 minutes a day reading for fun develop the skills to be better readers at school.
# Get the library habit. Make sure that everyone in your family has a library card. Schedule regular trips to the library.
# Read aloud to your child. This is the most important thing a parent can do to help a child become a better reader. Start reading to your child when he or she is young and keep reading as he or she grows up.
# Use your newspaper to encourage reading. Ask your young child to find things in the day's paper such as:

* A map of the United States
* A picture of an athlete
* Three words beginning with "s"

# Give books as gifts. Find a special place for you child to keep his or her own library of books.

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How can I tell how my child is doing in school?
* Ask your child to show you his or her school work, and note the grades and comments by the teacher. Check report cards carefully for grades in each subject, attendance and conduct. Ask the teacher or school counselor for other kinds of information about your child's performance such as test scores and teacher observations.
* Attend your school's regular parent-teacher conferences and bring any questions or concerns. Ask for a special meeting if necessary. Regular phone calls and notes are also a good way to increase the information shared between teachers and parents.
* Ask to see examples of successful work and compare it to your child's work. Listen to the teacher's comments on the work and what your child needs to do to improve. Plan with the teacher how you both can work together to help your child learn more.
* If you see a serious problem, ask the teacher to report on your child's progress by a note or phone call each week during the next grading period.
* Don't criticize your child's teacher in front of the child. This makes children less responsible for their behavior.

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How can I help my child with homework?
* Agree with your child on a set time to do homework every day.
* Encourage your child to study at a desk or table rather than in a bed or easy chair.
* If it is hard for your child to sit still or concentrate for more than a short period of time, encourage him or her to walk a while looking at flash cards or talk aloud when reviewing information.
* Discourage distractions like TV, conversations in the background or calls from friends during homework time.
* If your child can't get started, talk through the assignments with him or her. Be supportive but do not do the homework for your child.
* If you are unable to help your child with a difficult subject, ask for help from a relative. Also, consult your child's teacher and ask about after-school tutoring sessions. All Warren County schools offer extended-day programs and/or tutorial sessions after school.
* Check to see that all the work is done, and sign it if your school requires this.
* Supply your child with study aids such as a computer, dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedias. Show your child how to use them.
* If you have more than one child, encourage them to help each other. Older children can often serve as tutors to younger children and reinforce their skills while helping the younger child learn.

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How much homework should my child have?
* There is no correct or best amount of homework. However, many school districts recommend 15-45 minutes a day in 3rd-6th grades, 45-75 minutes in 7th-9th grades and 75-120 minutes in 10th-12th grades.
* Expect your child to keep notes on daily assignments. Ask him or her to tell you what he or she is doing in class and for homework.
* If your child has no homework day after day, you may want to talk to your child's teacher.

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