Building strong schools and communities begins with building strong families.
This page is designed to help busy parents find a few strategies and resources that help them create a stronger and more nurturing environment at home. In today's world, families are busy and on-the-go. Make it a priority to slow things down, turn off the TV, cell phones, or ipads, and spend some quality time together. Hopefully the resources provided on this page make that a little easier to accomplish in your home.
Words bolded/underlined are direct links to further resources on that topic.
There is no question that reading at home every night with children is critical to building strong reading skills. But it's also a great way for parents to bond with their kids. Here are some tips to make reading a bonding experience, while also helping to increase their reading skills.
- Reading must be a part of the daily routine. Children love to know what to expect each day, so building a familiar routine is important. Reading may take place after dinner, right after nightly baths/showers, or maybe right at bedtime. No matter the time, snuggle with your young reader and make it a positive experience. the strongest young readers start the lap of their parents.
- Take turns reading aloud with younger readers. For beginning readers, allow them to add to the story through looking at the pictures together or identifying letters or smaller words on each page. Encourage reading at an appropriate pace and using proper voice inflection and expression.
- With middle or high schoolers, reading aloud can still take place. They may prefer to read their own book quietly, but you can still read your own book, magazine, or newspaper at the same time. Simply scheduling that shared reading time can be important, even if you aren't actually reading the same material. It reinforces your priority of reading and the desire to spend time with them.
- Visit your local library with your children. Allow them to each have their own library card and go regularly to select their own books. For Ludlow families, The Kenton County Library offers lots of fun activities and programs for children and teens.
- We spend so much time in cars, running back and forth to errands or activities. Even when you feel like you spend hours in the car daily, there is still a way to fit in a good book. Visit the local library to borrow books on tape. Listening to a good story together can still be a fun and positvie experience even if you're in the car.
- Asking questions to your child as you read allows deeper understanding of the material. Learn how to ask good questions.
There is much research showing that children who share family meals several times a week show improved progress in many areas, including: improved academic progress, improved self esteem, a lower risk of smoking and alcohol/drug use, increased positive peer realtionships, and improved social skills and manners. Most importantly, children/teens who have positive family meals on a regular basis report that they have a deeper belief that their parents are really proud of them.
- Simply eating together isn't necessarily what creates the results listed above. A positive atmosphere must be created. Save negative talk or discipline for outside of meal time. Keep the talk positive, light, and fun.
- Keep the distractions away from dinner. Turn off the TV, turn off all cell phones, ipads, ipods, and computers. It's important to use dinner time to focus on each other.
- What do we talk about? How can we get our teen to talk? Two good questions. An easy start of the conversation could be simply asking about everyone's day. It is important to ask open-ended questions to "force" them to talk and explain things. If you just ask simple questions, you'll likely get simple answers like Yes, No, Nothing, or I don't know. Some examples of more open-ended questions or requests: Tell me about lunch time today. Tell me about class. Tell me about your test today. What kind of homework do you have tonight?
- A simple game to play to get everyone talking: The High/Low Game. Go around the table, and everyone has to talk about their high point of the day, as well as their low point of the day. It is important to ask children and teens how they each made them feel. Hearing how parents handle their low points is important for kids too.
- Not sure what else to talk about? Some lists of questions are included here for your reference: List 1 List 2 List 3 List 4
- Use family dinner time to reinforce your own values as a parent. Discuss showing respect to others, treating others with kindness, the importance of education, and the importance of preparing now for college and life after high school. Use the time to talk about family history and how life was when you were young.
- Cook together! Cooking with your children helps in so many areas. Let them plan a meal my choosing what to make. Let them select a recipe and help with the shopping if possible. Cooking with them not only teaches them the life skill of learning to cook, but it helps reinforce critical reading and math skills. If they have ownership in making the meal, they may be more willing to sit at the table for a while and actively participate in the conversation.
Extend Family Dinner Night into Family Game Night!
- Break out some of your favorite board games and play together as a family!
- Set rules for good sportsmanship, then model them.
- Have kids do the reading to reinforce those skills. If score is to be kept, have them work out the math involved.
- Check out these ideas for family games: List 1 List 2 List 3
Other Great Resources for Parents & Families:
- www.parents.com/parenting great resource for a variety of topics; ranges in all ages for children and teens
- www.webmd.com/parenting great resource for a variety of topics for a healthy family; ranges in all ages for children and teens
- www.scholastic.com lots of parent resources; series of short video clips for parents on how to use "Teachable Moments" in everyday life
- www.thefamilydinnerproject.org great ideas and resources on how to make the most of your family dinners/meals
- www.pbs.org/parents lots of great resources, tools, and video clips on parenting ideas; ranges in topics and all ages for children and teens
- www.schoolfamily.com lots of great resources for parents with children and teens of all ages; topics for connecting school to home; great online newsletter