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Parents can help children learn good study habits
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parenting education programs can teach parents one very valuable lesson: how to help their children succeed academically.
Mississippi State University Extension Service specialists hold these programs in various counties in support of President George Bush's "No Child Left Behind" initiative. They offer parents training and information to better support and care for their children.
Attala County Extension director Karen Benson said meeting the needs of Mississippi's children is the goal of parenting education programs.
"Our programs emphasize the need to better equip children for learning. When we can give parents resources they can use to meet their children's developmental needs, we have met our goal," Benson said.
In her particular program, Benson said a partnership with the Girls & Boys Clubs provided free Parent-Teacher Association membership as an incentive for parents to take the class. The local Exchange Club provided materials for the six-week course.
"The majority of the participants had school-age children, and the overwhelming need for these parents was how to help their children with homework," Benson said. "They wanted to be able to assist their children and avoid having homework become a family conflict."
Some strategies parents learned during the course included setting aside a convenient, quiet time and place in the home for schoolwork, as well as preparing ahead of time for last-minute projects by keeping a stash of supplies like scissors, poster board, glue, markers and note cards for quizzing. Good study areas in the home should be free from distractions like television, radio and other family members.
"Many students don't know how to organize their studying, so parents need the skills to help them learn to be organized. This reduces the amount of time spent studying, which the parents really liked," Benson said.
Louise Davis, an MSU Extension family and child development specialist, said building strong and healthy families is critical to positively shaping a child's first years of life. A quality parenting education program helps develop the fundamental skills required for quality parenting.
"Families are a child's first teachers in life. The social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of children is dependent upon the family," she said. In the last year, MSU's Extension Service has provided more than 100,000 families with research-based information on developing positive self-esteem and self-concept in all family members, instilling self-confidence and applying positive guidance techniques.
Davis said the results of positive parenting include increasing awareness of self-needs, strengths and weaknesses, as well as enhancing family communication and expressiveness. Substituting nurturing parenting behaviors for abusive parenting practices helps to build healthier, more cohesive families and communities.
"When families implement positive parenting techniques and gain greater knowledge of their children's developmental years, they give their children a much better chance to succeed in life," Davis said.
Contact: Karen Benson, (662) 289-1321