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The Boston Globe

Lifestyle

A quiz for parents: getting involved in your kids’ education

During the school year, it’s the most-asked question in American homes, echoed by millions of parents, five days a week: “How was school today?,” usually followed by “Is your homework done yet?” And the inevitable, droning answers: “Fine.” “Nope.”

At this point, some tired families acquiesce; others brace for homework meltdowns; and still others jump in and overdo it.

Most parents know it’s important to participate in their children’s education, and scores of studies from major American universities support the finding that kids do better in school when their parents are involved. But what does getting involved actually mean? What’s the best way to connect to your child’s learning with the little time you have? How do you help your kids succeed in school without getting too close to the process?

While our children soon will sweat through their initial benchmark tests, it’s only fair that parents take their own back-to-school quiz. How do you score when it comes to being involved in your child’s education? Take this test and see.

If you get 11 or 12 answers correct, congratulations! You’re doing a terrific job of supporting your child’s education. If you answer eight to 10 questions correct, don’t fret, because most parents are right here with you. If you manage seven or fewer, the good news is that you'll probably pick up some tips to give you a hand in helping to make your child a better student. And the beginning of the school year marks a great time to start.

  • Three of the following statements are true. Which one is false?

    Correcting your child’s homework gives teachers a false impression and ultimately hurts your child; teachers use homework to gauge which students need more instruction, which are ready to move on, and whether the lesson was effective.
  • The best strategy for raising a child who likes to read is to:

    Research confirms that reading daily (anything — books, magazines, sports pages) with your child in a fun, bonding, and expressive way is the most important thing you can do because kids will associate reading with pleasure.
  • New brain studies indicate the most effective way to study for a test is to:

    Because the brain is a muscle that grows stronger with use, having students write out questions, then retrieve information and connect the dots repeatedly is more effective than passively reading or listening.
  • New public-school standards for learning (called the Common Core State Standards Initiative) will launch this fall in Massachusetts. What changes will this trigger in your child’s curriculum?

    The initiative, which has been fully adopted by 45 states, seeks to standardize and improve education across the nation. Common Core benchmarks will be supported by one of two new standardized tests in the 2014-15 school year.
  • Which of the following strategies will not help you build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher?

    E-mail is not an effective way to discuss issues. When there’s a conflict with your child that needs to be resolved, send a brief e-mail to the teacher stating your concern, your questions, and a request to talk or meet.
  • Which characteristic is associated with visual (spatial) learners?

    Visual learners learn best through images and creating pictures in their mind; physical-kinesthetic learners like to touch, feel, and use their hands; auditory learners learn by what they hear and prefer to recite spelling words orally. Most children learn in a combination of ways but lean toward one style. Understanding how your child learns can help you support homework, projects, and studying.
  • Overloaded school backpacks cause more than 20,000 back injuries per year. Which statement is not true? The ideal student backpack should:

    Many schools don’t allow rolling backpacks because they’re a hazard in crowded hallways.
  • Praising hard work and effort leads to a more confident, competent child. True or false?

    True. Research shows that simply praising a child’s “smarts” is counterproductive because the child may develop fear that they could lose their “smart” label if they fall short on difficult challenges — and begin avoiding them. Praising progress and hard work motivates kids because effort is a factor they can control, and it reinforces the message that learning and improvement is achievable.
  • Which statements are true about fueling your child’s brain and body?

    All of the above. Diet, exercise and sleep affect your child’s ability to process, learn, and retrieve information.
  • Which statement or question is less likely to result in a constructive conversation with a teacher?

    Keep communication positive and professional by sharing your child’s feelings, behaviors, or your own observations. When teachers feel accused or blamed, they are more likely to focus on defending their actions instead of helping your child.
  • Which strategies help minimize homework meltdowns:

    In addition to involving your child in the decision about where and when homework is done and providing a well-stocked homework supply bin, all these strategies will help keep things on a positive track.
  • What is the best way to help kids stay organized for the school year?

    Many kids need to make mistakes before they can take full responsibility for their schoolwork and belongings. Don’t do for your child what they can do. Even 6-year-olds can pack their own backpacks.

ML Nichols, Globe correspondent

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