Category Archives for "Parent Power"

Does your child need homework?

The short answer is it depends!

Here’s why.

Homework is useful if it helps your child review what has been taught in class, if it is a way of checking that lessons have been learned.  Then, provided the teacher checks the homework, he or she can adjust how and what they teach in the next lesson. This type of homework should be short and to the point.  Then, if your child has understood what has been taught he or she should be able to finish it in a few minutes.  No stress!

So if your child has homework that helps her practice what she has learned then homework is useful and as we all know, practice makes perfect!

Homework is useless if it tries to teach your child something he or she has not been taught how to do. When this happens children, and parents, get stressed and upset. Parents end up trying to show their children what to do – and they ways they do this might conflict with how the teacher says the work has to be done. Result – total confusion and frustration.

Does your child need this type of homework? I suggest that he or she really doesn’t need homework if all is it going to do is cause emotional upheaval.

But I hear your cries go up – What about the child’s learning?  What about the child’s progress?  How will my child progress if he or she does not do extra work?

Well, let’s get something clear -there is no proof that doing homework increases a child’s learning or his ability to learn.  In Finland – a country with excellent educational outcomes –I have read that teachers are forbidden to give students homework. Forbidden!!!

Teachers assume that children will work hard during school time and that they will use after school time to extend their interests, play sports, meet and talk to each other.  Now I am not sure how well this is working in this age of digital addiction but it has certainly worked so far.  Parents are expected to help their children develop life skills and are not expected to have to help with homework.

Ah, wouldn’t that be nice?  No homework, no stress, no late nights worrying about what the next school day will bring.

Teachers would be happy to not give homework, as long as they can get through what has to be taught during the day.  They tell me they give homework because parents ask for it, parents not kids.  And why do parents ask for homework – two reasons, they want to know what their child is doing in class and they want to keep their child busy in the evenings.

These are not good reasons.  There are better ways to discover what your child is learning and to keep them occupied each evening.

So, does your child need homework? You decide.

Want help with the homework hassle?  Download these 5 tips now.

and take the stress out of homework.




What to do when your child hates school!


When your child tells you that he hates going to school – take him seriously!  Don’t offer platitudes such as , “Oh, it will be OK next week”, or ” Things will get better” because your child is pretty sure they wont. “I hate school”, is a cry for help. A serious cry for help. A cry that cannot be ignored or brushed off.  A cry that needs care and attention the moment the words come out of the child’s mouth.

So what do you do when your child tells you that she ‘hates school’ or ‘hates her teacher’ or ‘hates homework’?

Work through these seven steps to find out how to solve the situation.

1. Take your child’s comments seriously

Don’t ignore, or brush off, your child’s comments even if you think that your child is just going through ‘a phase’.  Hate is an emotional word and one that most children only use when they have nowhere else to turn.  Your child might think that he or she hates school but in reality there is something else that your child hates, something that he or she finds hard to think about let alone talk about.

2. Get past the words

Your child doesn’t hate school.  He or she hates something about their experience in school and they only way they can express their feelings is by using strong statements.   Don’t tell your child that he or she doesn’t hate school – keep that to yourself – or you risk losing their trust.  Go along with your child’s statement until you can discover what caused it.

3. Ask the right questions

Now to the tricky part.  You have accepted that your child has strong feelings about school/their teacher/their work but now you need to discover why he or she has these feelings.  You need to get to the truth behind your child’s statement.  This has to be done carefully by asking the type of questions that will help your child understand his feelings and you understand what is causing them.  Start by saying how sorry you are that your child feels that way and perhaps it would help if he talked about it.  Had anything happened that annoyed him?  Did he get into trouble at school?  Is he being bullied? Is he struggling to do the work?  What has the teacher done to make him feel that way?  Ask questions that provide you with information

4. Don’t judge

Don’t comment on any of the answers.  Accept what your child is telling you without judging the right or wrong of the situation.  You can use questions to gently help your child better understand what has happened to cause this outburst but do not judge any of your child’s actions or those of others.  Listen and try to make sense of what has taken place.

5. Discuss options

When you know why your child is upset you can start to move towards solutions.  These solutions should come from a discussion with your child about what might be possible.  At this stage your child might dismiss these options as unworkable but persevere and offer several options until you can both agree on what needs doing. This step may take some time and you may not be happy with the result.  You may end up having to do something that you really don’t want to do. Measure your discomfort against that of your child’s and make the best choices.

6. Follow through

Now that you have a possible solution, one that you have discussed with your child and that you have both agreed to, it is time to follow through.  If you do not take action your child will lose trust in you and in your ability to provide the support he needs.  Don’t wait.  Start providing the support your child needs as soon as possible.  And set a date to review progress, to check if the problem has been adequately solved.  No one gets everything right on the first try so be prepared to…

7. …re assess the situation

Has what you tried worked? Has the problem been completely solved? or is there something more that needs doing?  Now is the time to evaluate your success.  Whatever happens do not give up on your child.  He or she has cried out for help – make sure that help is forthcoming!

If you want to learn more about how to help your child make sense of school download this pdf

Make School Make Sense

and register for my live webinar on September 28th, at 6PM Pacific ..

7 tips to make “Meet the Teacher” work for you

Your child has a new teacher.  This can change many things about your child’s learning.  The new teacher may have a very different teaching style from the last teacher, different class rules, expectations around homework, and a new way of delivering the curriculum.

Your child will need to adjust to this ‘new normal’ in order to make the best of the new school year. It can be difficult to do this.  Some children lose many weeks of learning because they are struggling to make these adjustments.

You need to help.   But how can you help when you don’t know your child’s new teacher or how he or she will be working with your child?

Go to ‘Meet the Teacher’ night.  (Teachers call it Meet the Creature’ but we won’t comment on that!).   Attending this important meeting is not enough, you need to know how to get the information that is going to help you give your child the support he or she needs.

Here are tips on how to make that happen.

 1. Understand the purpose of the meeting.

This is a ‘get to know you’ meeting not a time to go into detail about your child’s learning issues.  You may only have a few minutes to connect with the teacher – make them count.

2.  Take a photo of your child.

The teacher may not know which student you ‘belong’ to.  I have had several conversations with parents only to realize that I was talking about the wrong child!   Having a photo of your child really helps.

3.  Decide what the teacher needs to know about your child.

Does your child have a specific learning need? A special interest? A sibling in the school?  Letting the teacher know this will help him or her connect to your child.  Keep it short.  Only one sentence please not a whole dissertation. If the teacher wants to know more she can follow up later.

4.  Know what you want to know.

What burning question do you have about the upcoming school year?  Do you want to know how your child’s progress will be assessed?  What the expectations are around homework? What the teacher would like you to do to help her or your child?  Choose one question and go with it.  If you have more ask to schedule a time when you can get them answered.

5. Remember and respect other parents

These meeting tend to be short, do not take up too much of the teacher’s time. Respect the fact that other parents will want to talk to the teacher too.  (And that they will have good questions to ask if they follow my blog!)

6. Thank the teachers for their time

A quick ‘thanks’ as you are leaving goes  along way to building a good relationship.  These meetings are over and above what teachers do on a regular basis. Please acknowledge that.

7.  Don’t give up

These meetings are short and sweet (we hope!) but cannot answer all your questions.   Don’t assume that this is the last meeting you will need to schedule – you need more information and will need to take the time to do this.  Don’t give up.  Your child needs your support.

Want more tips on how to work with the school so that your child gets the best teachers can offer?   Download my free tips here.

and help your child get a wonderful start to the new school year.


5 ways to make the new school year stress free

Here are 5 ways you can take the stress out of ‘back to school’ and get a great start on the school year.

  1. The practicalities

You know all about these.  The media is full of things you can buy for the new school year – but you don’t have to buy them!  Yes, children may need a few new clothes, after all they have probably grown during the summer, but don’t go overboard, only buy what is absolutely necessary.

Your child will need school supplies, pens, binders, new school bag etc. At this time of year you can find good deals on these.

Put together some food ideas too.  What can you buy in that will make preparing school lunches easy and quick to prepare?

2.  Establish Routines 

Now is the time to re-establish family routines.  These include regular bedtimes, meal times, homework times as well as the routine of getting out the door in the morning!  having a ‘ready for school routine is one way of preventing the stress that can happen over breakfast!

And don’t forget YOUR routines.  What arrangements can you make that will make life easier for you?

3.  Understand different roles

This is important as understanding people’s roles in helping children make a success if school can prevent stress building up and causing problems.

Your role is the ‘set the scene’ for learning so that your child can benefit from what the teacher is teaching.

The teacher’s role is to teach your child – a task that is made much easier when you have set the scene.

The school’s role is to keep your child safe and to provide as many learning opportunities as possible.

Your child’s role is to do his of her best work and to tell you when he or she is struggling to understand homework assignments.

Don’t get them mixed up!  That leads to stress all around.

4. Get a handle on expectations

Knowing what everyone’s expectations for the new school year are takes away the frustration of not knowing what to do.


What expectations does the teacher have around homework?  What help does he or she expect you to give your child?  Does he or she expect you to provide information when your child finds homework too hard or too easy?

Knowing these expectations takes most of the hassle out of homework time.

School behaviour

Does the school have a policy on dress? Lateness? Absenteeism? Communication with parents?  Does the school expect you to volunteer or to go on  field trips?

You amy already know this – but it might be a good idea to check.

Your expectations

What do you expect from the school, the teacher and your child? What are you going to do if these expectations are not met?  How can you communicate with the school and your child’s teacher?

Do you need to modify your expectations in light of what the school expects?

Your child’s expectations

Talk to your child.  What does he or she expect the new school year to bring?  Do you need to help him or her modify these expectations?  How are you going to do that?

If your expectations and your chid’s expectations do not match the year could be more stress than it needs to be.

5. Open Lines of communication

Knowing how you, your child’s teacher and your child are going to communicate is probably the biggest tip of all.  Discover how to contact your child’s teacher (ask them about the best way to do this).  How and  when do letters get sent from the school?  How can you know what your child is learning in class?

Most of all set aside time each day to talk with your child about their feelings, their work, and any concerns they may have.  Don’t let small difficulties become major problems.  opening lines of communication can prevent that happening.

Quick review.

Make the new school year stress free by handling the practicalities, establishing routines, understanding everyone’s role and their expectations and by keeping lines of communication open at all times.

Believe me, everyone wants a stress free year.  These five tips will help you make it happen.

If, despite these tips, the year starts to get stressful contact me and we can sort it out.



Make the next school year the best ever!

A new school year is just around the corner.   Anticipation is high.  Stress levels are rising. You will soon be wanting answers to questions such as – What teacher will my child get?  Will she be able to do the work? How can I help make it a successful? How can I take the stress out of homework?

All good questions needing answering.  And here I am to answer them!

  • I can’t tell you which teacher your child will get – but I can tell you how to make any teacher the best teacher for your child.
  • I can’t tell you whether your child will be able to do the schoolwork – but I can tell you how give your child the skills that make learning easy.

And I can tell you how you can ensure your child has the best year ever, without homework issues and with less stress than you ever thought possible.

How can I promise this?  Because there is one secret that holds the key to your child’s success – and I can tell you where to get it.

Before I do that you need some context.

When you are not feeling well and you want to feel better you go to doctor who diagnoses the problem and tells you how to get healthy again.  You learn they type of support you need.

When you want to help your child learn you need a way to find the type of support that is going to make that happen.  You need a way of diagnosing your child’s learning needs.

If you guess what medicine will make you healthy or you guess what support will help your child needs … well, we all know what guessing can lead to.  You may take the wrong medicine and end up sicker than before.  and your child may get the type of support that makes learning more difficult.

So, the secret to making the next school year the best ever is to stop guessing what support your child needs and start discovering what support will make a difference.

I know, no one is telling you how you can do this.  No one is giving you the information and advice you need to make next year fantastic – until now!

Check out , take the free easy diagnostic assessment and discover how you can make next year, and every year after that,  the year your child truly shines.

It is easy – and it works. What more can you ask for?



The Ultimate Guide to a Successful ‘Meet the Teacher’ Experience.

OK, so you have survived the first week of back to school now it is time to make the ‘Meet the Teacher’ meeting a success.

This meeting is normal set up during the first few weeks of the school year and, as the name suggests, it is a time for you to meet the person your child will be working with during the following 40 weeks or so.

It is an important meeting.   But it is easy to get wrong.  It is easy to come away from the meeting wondering what it was all about, why you were there, and what good it did you or your child.

And that is a shame, because, properly handled, this meeting helps set up your relationship with your child’s teacher and provides you with an understanding of what your child will be doing during the year.  So here is my guide to making the most of the ‘Meet the Teacher’ event that your school will be having.


 Notice the title – it is MEET the teacher, not GRILL the teacher!

You are there to get to know each other, to put names to faces, to look at the classroom and to get a feel for the kind of situation your child will be in.

You are not there to ask detailed questions about child’s learning or about what work your child should be doing at home, you are there to lay the groundwork to an important relationship – the relationship between home and school.

Put a face to a name.

You would be surprised at how difficult it can be for a teacher to match a child to a parent.  You might think that your child looks exactly like you but the teacher might not see the resemblance.  I have known – and I have been guilty of doing this myself – teachers go through a whole parent meeting and have no idea which child they are talking about.  This is especially true in High School where teachers meet hundreds of students and can find it very difficult to put a face to a name.

Take a recent photograph of your child with you when you go to this meeting.  Hold it in your hand as you talk to the teacher.  That way you can be sure that she is talking about YOUR child!

Be on time

I know, this can be difficult but teachers have many parents to talk to and won’t be able to wait if you are not there when you are expected to be there.  If you can’t make it, phone the school and leave a message.  You may even ask for another time to meet the teacher.

Ask about expectations around homework.

This is a biggie and getting this information can save you a whole lot of heartache later in the year.  Does the teacher give homework? How much homework does she expect a child to do each night? What kind of homework will your child be getting?  If your child is expected to do project work how are you exceed to help?  What happens if homework is not handed in on time?  Will homework grades count for the final grades? and, most importantly, Can you contact the teacher if you have concerns about your child and homework?

This leads into the next item on your agenda…

Confirm contact details.

The school office will have details of your address and phone number but you might also want the teacher to let you know if your child is having difficulty in class.  Tell the teacher that you would be happy to have this information and give her your phone number or another way she can contact you.

By doing this you have opened the door to the communication process and invited the teacher to step in and help you help your child.

If these details change make sure the teacher knows about the changes.

Ask what your commitment to your child’s education should be.

Does the teacher want you to help with homework? Check homework? Report problems? Provide extra support? or is he happy to let you decide what to do?   Perhaps you are expected to read with your child every night, or help him or her learn spellings for a test, or provide materials for project work.  You need to know.

Let the teacher know what you think her commitment should be.

Ask her to keep you informed about your child’s progress.  Report cards are not the best way to make this happen – perhaps she sends out monthly newsletters?  Remind the teacher that you will always be happy yo hear from her and that if there are any problems in class you want to be the first to know about them.

Then say ‘Thanks, nice to meet you!” and leave.


This is a lot to get through in the few minutes you will have to meet your child’s new teacher but if you approach these meetings with an agenda in mind you will get the information you need and the teacher will be grateful that you are using the time well.

Teachers can be scary but we are not all the ‘creatures’ some of you think we are!


The Truth About Back to School

It’s that time again and you are probably being bombarded with advice about how to prepare for the big day.  Most of the advice is good – so I don’t need to repeat it here – but, just for a moment let us go beyond all the information and advice and take a look at ‘Back to School’ from different perspectives.

  1. Back to School – Teachers

Your child’s first day of school is the last day of a teacher’s preparation for the new school year.  Most teachers have been in school for a week already, getting books prepared, sorting out files, having meeting, making sure resources are in place and working out how to fit students into the right class.

For Vice Principal the time has been even more hectic.  They have the responsibility of working out the timetabling for the whole school.  No easy job.  So the first day of Back to School for your child is something of a relief for teachers.  Preparations are complete and the year can begin.

Teachers are ready.

2.  Back to School – Students

Most students are very happy to be back in school.  They may complain and they may be nervous about the upcoming school year but like the rhythm and regularity of the school days.  They look forward to seeing new friends and reconnecting with old ones.  But Back to School time is also a time of great uncertainty.  What will the new teacher be like? Will I be able to do the work? What if I hate my new classroom?  What homework will I get and will I be able to do it? – all questions that are in the back of your child’s mind right now. Even the coolest kid harbours some trepidation about the new school year.

Students are nervous.

3. Back to School – Parents

So where do you fit into this picture?  You have probably been busy rushing round getting last minute supplies, being hassled by your child for the latest gear that he  cannot live without and been getting ready for the new routine that the school year brings.  All busy work.

But deep in your heart you are worried about the new school year.  Will he pass or fail?  Will she be happy or miserable?  Will the teacher understand your child’s needs?  Will your child make the right friends? and What can you do to make this year the best ever for your child?

Parents are worried.

The truth, the whole truth, about Back to School is that however much teachers prepare, however much students question, and however much you worry none of it really matters in the end.

Preparation is necessary but not sufficient.

After the first week or two all the teacher preparation will have changed, the student questions will have been answered BUT  your worries will not have gone away.

The only way to avoid worrying about your child’s success is know what you can do to ensure that it happens.  You need answers to your questions.  You need to know who to ask and how to ask them.

The truth about Back to School is that only you can ensure your child has a good year. Only you have the power to make good things happen for your child.

Scary, but as my mother said “It’s easy when you know how”.

back to School preparation is not enough. If you want your child to have a great year you need to know how to provide support that makes a difference.


The One Catastrophic Mistake Parents Make When Helping Children Learn And How To Avoid It.

I hate when this happens.  And it happens often.  What am I talking about? Parents doing their best to help their child succeed in school yet making the one catastrophic mistake that makes all their effort useless.

It goes something like this.  Child comes home with homework that he struggles to complete.  Parent rushes to help by telling child how to do the work.  Child looks confused and says ‘That is not the way my teacher told me!’  Parent frustrated because her help is rejected.  Everyone is upset.  No one knows why.

The big catastrophic mistake parents make is to assume that the best way they can help their child is by giving them ‘more school’, is by taking over the role of the child’s classroom teacher by trying to teach their child what he or she should have learned in the class.

Let’s be clear – parents have a vital role to play in helping children learn but their role is very different from that of the teacher.  Parents don’t need to give their child ‘more school’ they need to support their child in the way that only a parent can.  And if they don’t do this their child misses out and will never reach his to her potential.

How do parents avoid doing this?  Until now it has been almost impossible to avoid taking on the role of the teacher because no one as telling you what else you should be doing.

But that has changed.  Research states that what you do with your child AT HOME DURING REGULAR FAMILY ACTIVITIES is much more important to a child’s success than when you give your child ‘more school’.

Your role is to set the scene for learning, to make sure that your child is ready to learn, to ensure that your child can benefit from what the teacher is teaching.

When you get your child ready to learn and teachers teach your child what he has to learn your child is getting the support you are guaranteeing the your child is on the way to the future you both have dreamed of.


Is your child getting enough sleep? Are you sure?

Most children do not get enough sleep – and that impacts their ability to learn.

Sleep is when your brain gets rid of all the detritus of the day, when your brain cleans itself, stores important memories, and gets ready for new information.  If a child’s brain does not have time to do all this – and more – that brain will not be functioning well the next day.

And that means less learning!

So how much sleep does your child need?  New research states that –

  • 3 – 5 year olds need 12 hours sleep each night
  • 6 – 8 year olds need between 10 and 12 hours
  • 8 – 12 year olds need 10 hours
  • 12 – 16 year olds need 9 – 10 hours sleep

That is a lot of sleep!

Young children need a good nighttime routine so that they go to bed with little fuss.  Older children may find it more difficult to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Their sleep pattern changes.  Teenagers tend to need to sleep longer in the morning – that is why it is hard for them to wake up in time for school.  We torture our teenage kids by making them start school at 9a.m.

And late night screen time doesn’t help either.  Video games stimulate brains and stimulated brains don’t get chance to rest and clean themselves unready for the next day. The research says that even one night’s disruption to sleep can cause brain problems for several days.  That means less learning for several days!

So is your child getting enough sleep?   Are you making sure your child is ready to learn?



Top five reasons your child hates homework and what you can do about it

We have all been there. A child has homework to do and really does not want to do it. But I never realized how serious this situation could become until I saw results of an online survey about parents and homework.

The survey indicated that:

  • 10% had no problem getting their child to do their homework
  • 18% had to remind their child to do their homework
  • 48% said that homework was a daily family battle
  • 16% reported that homework often caused a meltdown
  • 8% said that their child hated school because of homework!

These numbers are astonishing. What is going on here? Homework is supposed to be helping not making things worse! Homework should never, NEVER, cause issues with your relationship with your child. Your relationship with your child is far too precious to be threatened by you trying to get your child to do homework.

Now I know it can be difficult. I have worked with families where mothers (it is usually mothers) have been at their wits end trying to find ways to get their children to do homework. The anger and frustration caused by this situation spills out into all aspects of family life and causes all kinds of problems. I have seen parents threaten children with loss of privileges in an effort to get their child to do their homework. I have had mothers in tears on the phone because they don’t know what to do, and even know of mothers who do their child’s work for them rather than having to face the frustration and anger of getting their child to do the work!

What are you to do if your child hates homework? Unfortunately, that answer is not straightforward. It depends on the reasons WHY your child does not want to do homework. Here are five reasons children hate homework and what you can do about them.

1. Doing homework takes time, time that your child would rather spend doing fun things.
Solution – Set a limit to the time your child spends doing homework and stick to it. If your child knows he can stop working at a certain time he will be more motivated to do the work.

2. The homework is too hard and your child does not know how to do it.
Solution. Tell your child’s teacher that your child couldn’t do it so that the teacher can review the work.

3. Homework is ‘boring’.
Solution. This is a difficult because homework often is boring. Again, setting time limits AND talking to your child’s teacher about the issue may help. Children use the word ‘boring’ to cover a variety of situations, you might need to check out why your child thinks homework is boring.

4. Homework is left to the last minute.
Solution. Help your child keep a homework agenda complete with dates for when work has to be handed in. Mark dates on a calendar and work backwards to decide when your child should to start work. Then let your child be responsible for getting the work done on time. Don’t let your child let his problem (no time) become your problem.

5. Books needed for homework are left at school.
Solution. If this happens often it is a sure sign that your child is struggling to learn and feels that the homework is too hard. Talk to your child’s teacher and try to set up a system to remind your child what books are needed but also tell the teacher if your child is struggling with homework.

So, my advice about homework is this-
The amount of benefit your child gets from finishing a homework assignment NEVER outweighs the importance of your relationship with your child. The amount of time you spend cajoling and coercing your child to do their work is counterproductive. There is no way that homework should create tension in a family, and definitely not the kind of meltdowns the survey suggests.
Stop letting your child’s homework cause family problems, it is just not worth it.

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