Dr. Estrella , Elementary School Counselor at Key Biscayne K-8 Center

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Parenting Tips

Make sure your child attends school every day and arrives on time. This 
helps him to be more focused and organized. Also, he doesn't miss important 
class instruction that cannot be replaced. In addition, getting ready for 
school promptly and arriving at the expected time every day help establish 
good habits and promote responsibility.
Preferably, homework should be completed immediately after a snack or a 
little break after arriving from school, but before preferred activities 
(e.g., television). For children with learning or attentional problems, you 
may consider a number of short homework periods in the early afternoon 
interspersed with preferred activity times. A daily plan can be communicated 
to your child by a written or tape recorded list of activities specifying 
times to be spent on homework, chores, and preferred activities. Homework 
time should not be assigned late in the evening or when your child is tired.
Set aside a regular time and location for study. Give homework its own 
special time and place. You may want to involve your 4th or 5th grade child 
(certainly with some limits) in finding the schedule that works best. 

Take it step by step. Particularly in the upper grades, sometimes children 
get overwhelmed by the amount of homework they have to do. Encourage your 
child to calmly figure out what needs to be done and how much time it will 
take, and then create a plan. Help your child break each assignment down 
into manageable steps.

Provide a quiet, well-lit environment. It's best to do homework in a room 
that has good lighting and is relatively quiet. This reduces distractions 
and helps to maintain concentration.

Allow time for some after-school fun. Students need to take a break from 
academics. A healthy balance between work and free time will not only 
contribute to better performance, but will also help your child develop 
valuable time-management skills.

Help out. You shouldn't have to do your child's homework or reteach the 
material covered in class, but you can help out by showing an interest, 
making yourself available as a resource and by encouraging independent 
problem solving. For example, if your child is doing a project on 
presidential elections, point out related articles that you've come across 
in the newspaper. However, if your child is having great difficult 
completing homework or a special project, contact the teacher immediately.

Praise a job well done. Kids, no matter what their age, need to know that 
they are doing a good job. Be vocal about their successes and encourage them 
to keep up the good work (especially as the year draws to an end and a 
tendency toward laziness may settle in). A little praise will go a long way 
in building confidence and healthy study habits.

Share concerns with the teacher. If, at any point in the year, your child 
seems to be losing motivation and you've exhausted all attempts to 
reinvigorate him, share your concerns with the teacher. You'll want to 
determine if the problem is the quantity of homework, the assignment itself 
or your child's attitude toward school. An open dialogue with the teacher 
goes a long way in avoiding potentially serious problems. 

There's more than one way to acknowledge your child's efforts, 
encourage him to keep up the good work, and boost his self-esteem.
These are some words that will show encouragement: 
1. Good for you!
2. Superb. 
3. You did that very well.
4. You've got it made. 
5. Terrific! 
6. That's not bad!
7. Couldn't have done it better myself.
8. Marvelous! 
9. You're doing fine. 
10. You're really improving.
11. You're on the right track now.
12. Now you've figured it out. 
13. Outstanding! 
14. That's coming along nicely.
15. I knew you could do it. 


Teach your child 3 important skills:
SET GOALS:  People who know where they are headed are more likely 
to get there. Regarding to school, deciding to get good grades is the first 
step. Next is figuring out what needs to be done. Sit down with your child 
and talk about some goals for the coming year. Then break them down into 
smaller steps.  What can your child do today to help him/herself to reach 
his/her goal?  

PLAN AHEAD:  Some people seem to take the unexpected in stride.  
When it rains, they know where the umbrella is.  Other people are 
always amazed when things don't turn out as expected.  The truth is that 
things never turn out quite the way they are planned.  Help your child 
think ahead to be ready.  You might say, "I know you are hoping to write 
all your report this weekend.  But what if the weather is nice?  Then you 
may want to play outside.  You might want to start writing some of it today".

FINISH WHAT YOU START: Some kids don't mind writing the paper, but don't 
proofread and edit.  As a result, their grade is lower than it should be.  At 
home, they may wash the dishes and leave them for someone to put away.  Help 
your child get in the habit of following through on a project to the end.

                             PARENT WORKSHOPS
We have parent workshops and events at school to assist you in helping your 
child be a  
successful student. Make plans to attend some workshops.  

Here are 7 ways you can become involved in your child’s education that will 
pay big dividends for both of you:  
- Attend Parent-Teacher conferences with specific questions you want to ask.
- Meet your child’s friends and get to know their parents.
- Develop a consistent daily routine, including time for studying and 
homework.  Every student should have some chores or responsibilities around 
the house.
- Let the school staffs know of your availability to volunteer in the 
classroom or school. 
- Voice your concerns on any issues that will affect your family.
- Vote in local, state, and federal elections for public officials who 
support education.  Communicate with them regularly so you are represented 
- Join your local PTA and lend your support to the school to benefit your 
student. National PTA is a powerful voice for children, a relevant resource 
for parents and a strong advocate for public education.  Choose to make a 
difference.  Join the PTA today!

                               MORE TIPS


Making Time Count
•Put specific times on your calendar each week when you will spend time with 
your children. During that time, focus your love and attention on your child.

•Use car time to talk with your children. There's no phone or TV to 
interfere. No one can get up and leave. And kids know they really have your 

•Plan to eat at least one meal together as a family each day.

•Look for things to do together as a family. Get everyone involved in 
choosing how to spend your time together.

•Try giving children TV tickets. Each week, each child gets 20 TV tickets. 
Each ticket can be used for 30 minutes of TV time. Any tickets remaining at 
the end of the week can be cashed in for 25 cents each. Parents can still 
veto a certain program, of course.

Reading to Your Child
•Try relaxing your family's bedtime rules once a week on the weekend. Let 
your child know that he can stay up as late as he wants-as long as he's 
reading in bed.
•Help your child start their own library—paperback books are fine. Encourage 
your child to swap books with friends. Check used bookstores. Give books as 

•Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read. More students 
than ever have reported that their homes contained few or no reading 

•Try holding D-E-A-R times at your house. "DEAR" stands for "Drop Everything 
And Read." During DEAR time, everyone in the family sits down for some 
uninterrupted reading time.

•With young children, try reading to them during bath time.

•Use the "Rule of Thumb" to see if a book is on your child's reading level: 
Have your child read a page of the book aloud. Have her hold up one finger 
for each word she does not know. If she holds up four fingers and a thumb 
before the end of the page, the book is probably too hard for her to read 
alone. But it might be a great book to read aloud.

Building Self-Esteem

•Have your child make a "book" about themselves, with their own illustrations 
and wording. "A Book About Me" is a great way to help your child see herself 
as "somebody."

•Help your child discover their roots by talking with family members during 
holidays and other visits.

•Constantly look for ways to tell your children what you like about them, 
that you love them. There is no age limit on this. "When I do something well, 
no one ever remembers. When I do something wrong, no one ever forgets." Those 
words were written by a high school dropout.

•Let kids overhear you praising them to others.

•Try "King/Queen for a Day" for good report cards.

•Help kids learn from problems, not be devastated by them. Many parents don't 
ever use the word "failure." They may talk about a "glitch," a "problem," or 
a "snag." But even when something doesn't work out as they'd planned, 
successful people try to learn something from the experience.

•Try role playing to eliminate constant fighting. For five minutes, have the 
fighters switch roles. Each has to present the other person's point of view 
as clearly and fairly as possible. Odds are, they'll start laughing and make 
up. Better yet, they may come up with a compromise solution both parties like.

•For better discipline, speak quietly. If you speak in a normal tone of 
voice, even when you're angry, you'll help your child see how to handle anger 
appropriately. And if you don't scream at your kids, they're less likely to 
scream at each other . . . or at you.

•Try a "black hole" to keep toys and other belongings picked up. All you need 
is a closet or cabinet with a lock—the "black hole." When something is left 
out that should be put away, it gets put into the "black hole" for 24 hours. 
Once a favorite toy or something your child needs is locked up for 24 hours, 
there is greater incentive to keep it where it belongs. This works best when 
the whole family participates.
Solving School Problems

•Try looking over children's study materials and making up a sample quiz as 
they study for upcoming tests.

•Talk with the school "in time of peace" before major problems develop.

•How to make report cards a positive experience: Preparation. Ask, "What do 
you think your report card will tell us?" Getting ready is helpful. 
Perspective. Understand that a report card is just one small measure of your 
child. A child with poor grades still has plenty of strengths. Positive 
action. Find something to praise. Focus on how to improve.

•Be aware that your attitudes about school affect your child. If you hated 
math, be careful not to prejudice your child.

Motivating Your Child

•Children need the 4 "A"s as well as the 3 "R"s: Attention, Appreciation, 
Affection, and Acceptance.

•Some researchers believe every child is gifted-if we will just look for the 
ways. Helping a child see his giftedness is very motivating.

•Encourage children to read biographies about successful people. As children 
learn about the traits that made others successful, they are often motivated 
to adopt those same success patterns in their own lives.

•Motivate your children in math by challenging them to figure out how much 
change you should get back from a purchase. If they get the amount right, 
they get to keep the change.

•Praise and encourage your children constantly.
Building Responsibility

•Try a simple cardboard box to help make your child responsible for school 
belongings. Have your child choose a place for the box-near the door or in 
his room. Every afternoon, his first task should be to place all belongings 
in the box. When homework is finished, it goes in the box, too. In the 
morning, the box is the last stop before heading out the door.

•Help children understand, and take responsibility for, the consequences of 
their choices. "I chose to do my homework. The result was that I got an 'A' 
on my math test." "I chose to get up 15 minutes late. The result was that I 
missed breakfast . . . and nearly missed the bus."

•Try giving your child the responsibility of growing a small garden-even in 
just a flowerpot. The positive and negative results of carrying out your 
responsibilities are very clear.

•One reader found a way to keep children moving in the morning: After her 
daughter wakes up, Mom begins to play her favorite record album. Her daughter 
has until the side plays through to get herself dressed for school.

Reinforcing Learning

•Encourage kids to collect things. Whether they collect rocks, shells, 
leaves, or bugs is not important. But by collecting, children are learning 
new ways to make sense out of their world.

•Estimating is an important math skill. We estimate how much our groceries 
will cost. We estimate how much time we'll need to complete a project at 
work. You can help your child learn to estimate at home. Here's one idea: As 
you're driving, estimate the distance to your destination. Then estimate how 
much time it will take to get there. Use the odometer or a map to check your 

•Talk about geography in terms children can understand: Go through your house 
and talk about where things came from. A calculator may have come from 
Taiwan. A box of cereal may have a Battle Creek, Michigan address, or White 
Plains, New York. Talk about where the wheat for your bread came from. Where 
was the cotton for your blue jeans grown? Tell your children where your 
ancestors came from. Find the places on a map.

•Show your child that writing is useful. Have them help you write a letter 
ordering something, asking a question, etc. Then show them the results of 
your letter.

•Try playing "Beat the Clock" with your child during homework time. Look over 
the assignment and figure out about how long it should take to complete it. 
Allow a little extra time and set a timer for that many minutes. No prizes 
are needed. There is great satisfaction in getting the work done on time.

•Teach your child to use the formula "SQ3R" when doing any homework 
assignment. The letters stand for a proven five-step process that makes study 
time more efficient and effective: Survey, Question, Read, Restate, Review.

•Here are five tips to make homework time easier-for you and your child: 1. 
Have a regular place for your child to do homework. Use a desk or table in a 
quiet room. Be sure there's plenty of light. 2. Find a regular time for 
homework. You may want to make a rule, "No television until homework is 
finished." 3. During homework time, turn off the TV and radio. 4. Help your 
child plan how she'll use her time. 5. Set a good example. While your child 
is doing homework, spend some time reading or working yourself. Then when 
homework is done, you can both talk about how much you've accomplished.

•Nitty gritty homework tips: Do the most difficult homework first. 
Save "easy" subjects for when you're tired. Do the most important assignments 
first. If time runs short, the priorities will be finished. Do what's 
required first. Finish the optional assignments later-even if they're more 

•Look over your child's homework every day. Start at an early age and keep it 
up as long as you can. Praise good work. Your interest will encourage good 

•Try having your child teach you the homework. The teacher always learns more 
than the student.

—This information was prepared by Dr. John H. Wherry, President, The Parent 
Institute, "Education's #1 Source for Family Involvement Information," P.O. 
Box 7474, Fairfax Station, VA 22039-7474, 1-800-756-5525. The Parent 
Institute publishes a wide range of parent involvement materials for schools 
to distribute to parents, including newsletters, booklets, pamphlets and 
videotapes as well as an automatic service providing daily-updated parent 
involvement information to parents through schools' own websites. For 
details, visit The Parent Institute website at www.parent-institute.com. 
Permission is granted for noncommercial reproduction of this material if this 
credit message is included.

                             SEPARATION ANXIETY
What is separation anxiety?
It is the distress that children experience when their parents temporarily 
leave them. Insecurity is the main reason for separation anxiety.  Children 
may be afraid that they will not "survive" if their parents are not close by 
to take care of them.  It normally begins between the ages of 6-9 months 
old.  It peaks around age 2, and should begin to decline gradually until 
around age 3.

Can separation anxiety reoccur with elementary age children? YES! It may 
reoccur in response to environmental changes and stressors. Even a child who 
has attended and enjoyed school for several years may suddenly become sick so 
that they can stay home.  The usual complaint is, "I don't want to go to 

A team approach is essential for implementing a plan to help children with 
separation anxiety. School personnel and parents want the same thing for the 
child --a happy, successful school experience. The best approach that can be 
taken is when parents collaborate with school personnel to create an 
individualized plan that suits the child’s specific fear or area of 
difficulty. Not every idea will work with every child. Several plans may need 
to be tried to find the one that works. School personnel may suggest some 
specific ideas to help children cope with separation anxiety to facilitate 
the school adjustment. Growing up and learning are good things, and parents 
can promote this understanding through their attitude and actions.

Keep your child in school. Missing school reinforces anxiety rather than 
alleviating it!

These are examples of general strategies that may help parents dealing with 
this situation:

•Establish a regular bedtime and morning routine at home. Try to start a 
couple of weeks before school starts. Be consistent.

•Establish a home-to-school routine from the first few days that 
determines “this is what you will be doing everyday.”
•Be positive and calm when bringing the child to school. Kids are quick to 
pick up the emotional state of parents. It helps when parents’ words of 
reassurance --that everything will be fine -- come from the understanding and 
belief that this is an experience that is part of your child’s growing up.
•Let the child know the procedure that will be followed at dismissal. Be 
consistent in following up with what you told your child.
•Distract the child while getting ready for school (sing a song, say the 
alphabet, count to 100, etc.)

•Play a game with the child like “I Spy” as you both walk to class (count the 
backpacks we see, name all the colors, etc.)

•Minimize the time you spend at the classroom door when leaving your child 
(greet the teacher, kiss your child, say good-bye and step out).

•When the child is already familiar with the surroundings, consider leaving 
the child at the front door of the school to walk to the usual student 
gathering place or to class.
•Talk with the teacher about letting the child to choose a morning classroom 

•Use a behavior contract or incentive plan with a reward such as stickers 
that later can be exchange for special activities or privileges.

•Talk to the teacher about letting the child bring a small object or stuffed 
animal from home for the first few days.

•Tape a family photo inside the child’s backpack or pencil box to provide 
comfort during the day.

•Remind the child of previous successes at bravery.

•Consider using a carpool or include a friend to accompany the child to 

•Consult with the doctor about specific physical symptoms that seem to last 
for too long or are very disruptive to the child’s normal routine.

                      GOOD CHARACTER AND RESPECT

As we consider ways to teach children respect, it is important to understand 
that respect is not the same thing as obedience.  Experts say that the best 
way to teach children respect is to be respectful toward them.

Building respect for authority starts at home!
    Make sure your children know that you love and respect them.
    Explain that you have rules because you care.
    Follow up and follow through.
    Be CONSISTENT with consequences.

Teach your child respect for school and teachers!
--Get to know your child's teachers.
--Demonstrate respect for others by using a positive tone of voice, always 
returning teachers' calls, talking about the importance of an education, etc.
--Monitor your child's school activites by making sure they are prepared for 
school, asking about what they are studying, reviewing homework assignments, 
and praising effort and achievement!

--Don't take your child out of school for vacations, shopping excursions, or 
other non-medical reasons.  It sends the message that school isn't important!
--Don't belittle the school.  Kids will pick up on your attitude.  If you 
have concerns, work with the school to solve them.
--Don't tell your child not to follow a school rule.
--Don't take your child's word as gospel!  When there's a problem, express 
support for school staff until you can collect all the facts. 


1.  Don't focus on being your child's "pal." Children need parents who care 
enough about them to set limits and enforce them.  Be your child's friend, 
but be their PARENT first!

2.  Don't be your child's slave. Doing for children what they can do for 
themselves undermines their self-confidence and self-respect.

3.  Don't be a nag. Repeating yourself tells your child that he or she can 
ignore you.  Instead, ask you child if they understood what you said, and 
hold them responsible for knowing the next time!

4.  Don't try to be perfect. Your child will respect you more and learn from 
you if you share with him some times when you were wrong and how you handled 

5.  Don't pamper children. Pampered children often times feel that it's 
their right to be served, and become angry with teachers and others that 
don't meet their demands.  They fail to learn what is expected of them in 
life, instead of learning responsiblity!

Copyright@1995, The Parent Institute. Permission is granted for noncommercial 
reproduction of this material if this credit is included.


                         DEALING WITH DIVORCE

For a child, when a parent dies, there is a death IN the family; when the 
parents divorce, there is a death OF the family.  Children of divorce go 
through grief and mourning similar to bereaved children, yet face 
circumstances that can make their life more complicated.  As parents, we 
need to minimize the impact of separation or divorce to ensure that the 
child does not feel abandoned or unstable.

Emotional Responses of children when dealing with dicorce:

1.  Regressive Behavior: Children may regress to an earlier developmental 
level.  Thumb-sucking, bedwetting, baby talk, or wanting to sleep with the 
parent are indications that the child is having difficulty coping with the 
situation.  These regressive behaviors are adopted from a stage of 
development when they felt more secure. 

2.  Denial: The child may reject reality by fantasizing that the parents 
will get back together.  An older child may try to create situations that 
bring the parents into contact with each other in hopes that they will 
reconcile.  Both parents should work towards helping the child accept the 
separation or divorce.

3.  Hostility: Anger and hostility are a consequence of a child feeling 
abandoned by both parents.  Many times, the anger is directed to the 
custodial parent for driving the absent parent away.

4.  Physical Stress: Physical expressions of anxiety can include fitful 
sleep, nightmares, diarrhea, urinary frequency, loss of appetite, 
restlessness, and increase in pulse rate.  A doctor treating thc child 
should be informed of the separation or divorce.

5.  Guilt: It is common for children to blame themselves over the divorce, 
thinking that they must have done something terrible to make their parents 
split up.  Also, a child may feel that they should "side" with one parent, 
which causes guilty feelings of divided loyalty.

6.  Depression: To the child, the family unit has died, when there is a 
separation or divorce.  This is the expression of grief over their loss. 
Grief or depression should not be taken as a sign of preference for the 
other parent, but rather, encourage the child to open up and talk about his 
or her feeelings.  

7.  Behavior Problems: Most children will exhibit some form of behavioral 
problems at home and at school.  The teacher and the school counselor should 
be informed of 
the separation or divorce.

.......from "Helping Children Cope With Loss' by Buz and Joanie Overbeck, 


 FIJE METAS:  Las personas que saben donde van tienen mejores 
probabilidades de llegar.  En la escuela, el primer paso es decidir querer 
obtener buenas calificaciones, despues hay que pensar de que manera se 
pueden lograr. Sientese con su hijo y hablen sobre algunas metas para la 
escuela.  Luego, dividanlas en pasos pequenos.  Que puede 
hacer su hijo hoy para alcanzar su meta?

Algunas personas parecen estar preparadas para todo.  Cuando llueve, 
ellos saben donde esta la sombrilla.  Otras personas se sorprenden si las 
cosas no salen como ellos planificaron.  La verdad es que las cosas 
muchas veces no van a salir exactamente como fueron planeadas.  Ayude a su 
hijo a pensar de antemano y estar preparado.  Puede que ud. quiera 
decirle, "Se que quieres escribir todo tu reporte este fin de semana.  Pero 
que tal si hace un dia precioso afuera y quieres salir a jugar?  Quizas sea 
mas conveniente de que aproveches que ahora tienes la oportunidad de 
empezarlo y trabajar un poco en el". 

A algunos chicos no les molesta escribir reportes, pero no revisan lo 
que han escrito.  Esto resulta en una calificacion mas baja de la que 
podrian tener.  En el hogar, puede ser que ellos simplemente quieran 
lavar los platos pero no quieren guardarlos.  Ayude a su hijo a tomar la 
costumbre de terminar los proyectos.


"Mom, I  can't find my math book!"  "I don't have my lunch packed and my 
bus is coming in one minute."

Sound familiar?  For many kids just getting out the door in the morning 
is a real challenge.  You can help your child be successful at school by 
helping him or her get organized at home.  Here's how to tackle three 
problem areas:

TIME:  Some kids put everything off until the last minute.  You can help 
your child by blocking out regular times for study, play, and other 
activities.  Make a large calendar.  Write down all of your child's 
Then set a time for school work.  Try to stick to the same time each day.  
Your child will know she can't flop in front of the TV after school because 
it is work time until 5.

SCHOOL THINGS:  End those morning hide and seek games.  Get a 
big box and put it in a place where your child can't miss it.  Things from 
school go in the box as soon as the child gets home.  As she finishes 
homework, that goes in the box too.

EVENINGS:  Get your child's day off to a good start.   Take a few minutes 
at night to lay out clothes for the next day.  Pack a lunch and put it in 
refrigerator.  Pack the backpack.  Make sure your child has a regular 


"Mamá, no puedo encontrar mi libro de matemáticas!"  "No he 
preparado mi almuerzo y el autobús está por llegar!" 

Esto le parece conocido?  Para muchos chicos hasta salir 
por la puerta en las mañanas es un reto.  Usted puede ayudar a que su 
hijo tenga éxito en la escuela ayudándole a organizarse en el hogar.  
Aqui tiene como tratar con tres áreas problemáticas:

TIEMPO:  Algunos chicos dejan todo para el último momento.  Usted 
puede ayudar a su hijo a organizar horarios regulares para el 
estudio, los juegos y otras actividades.  Haga un calendario extenso.  
Escriba todas las actividades que su hijo tenga.  Luego establezca un 
tiempo para las tareas.  Trate de seguir el horario.  Su hijo así sabrá 
que no puede ver la televisión enseguida de llegar de la escuela  pórque es 
la hora de hacer las tareas.

Ponga un fin a esas mañanas ajetreadas.  Coloque una caja grande en 
un lugar donde su hijo  pueda verla facilmente.  Su hijo ha de colocar 
los materiales escolares dentro de una caja tan pronto llegue a casa.  A 
medida que termine las tareas, también ha de colocarlas en la caja.

Comience el dia de manera positiva.  Tome unos minutos por la noche  
para preparar la ropa para el día siguiente.  Prepare el almuerzo para el 
próximo dia y póngalo en la nevera.  Prepare la mochila.  Y asegúrese 
de que su hijo vaya a dormir temprano.

Adapted from Parents Make the Difference, Newsletter
Adaptado de Los Padres Hacen la Diferencia, Boletin Informativo

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Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2016
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