Focus Points

It’s not too late to help your kids concentrate

By Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell

We are about halfway through another school year. The New Year has passed and although still in winter, students are beginning to think about Spring Break and beyond. The key is to keep everyone focused on the remainder of the school year. At this crucial point in the year, it is important to remember that our families are first and foremost our children’s role models. Children learn from their family’s daily conversations, sharing of common interests, taking vacations together, and through their family’s spending a lot of time together.

Throughout my 20+ years in education, I have met many outstanding educators. One of the best is a colleague of mine named Adam Coleman, a 6th grade teacher at Downtown Elementary School. I have asked Mr. Coleman to provide insight on how he advises parents keep their children focused on the end run of the school year.

Here are Mr. Coleman’s “Top Parent Tips.”

Have regular conversations. Discuss school with your children. Go past one-word answers, and find out what your child really thinks and feels about school. Ask specific questions like, “What did you like best about school today?”

Get organized. Have a separate folder for each subject with one side for notes, papers, and handouts and the other for homework or papers to be returned. Make sure your child has a planning/agenda book to write homework assignments and to communicate with teachers.

Keep track of homework. Parents should motivate, monitor, and model good homework practices. Designate a time and location for doing homework and checking homework, and allocate a reasonable amount of time to do it. If no homework, read your child a book.

Share information. Inform your child’s teacher of issues like health conditions, family difficulties, personality traits, learning styles, and special interests. Sharing changes in these throughout the year creates a collaborative relationship that greatly benefits everyone.

Instill a love of reading. Undoubtedly, one of the most important quotients in determining a child’s educational success is their ability to read. Parents need to model reading to show its value. Visit the library often, subscribe to kids magazines, and spend time reading together.

Be a realist. Have a realistic attitude about grades. Not every child will ace every test and some, realistically, based on their abilities, will ace few. Instead, use grades as a tool to understand which skills your child has mastered and where he/she needs additional help.

Avoid jumping to conclusions. Not every poor grade is due to a lack of trying or laziness. Factors such as undiagnosed learning disabilities, social problems, not feeling well, or just a lack of interest in a subject can contribute to undesirable grades.

Set goals. Talk to your child about his/her future by setting both short- and long-term educational goals. Short-term goals may be finishing a book report or semester project while long-term goals should include plans for trade schools, community colleges, and universities.

Model volunteering. There are many opportunities to get involved at school, such as tutoring, parent-teacher organizations, or chaperoning field trips. Beyond school, model community volunteerism by helping support education wherever and whenever possible.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you keep your child focused for the remainder of the school year. I know Mr. Coleman has taught me a lot! Please remember, you will always be your child’s first and best teacher.

Adam Coleman is a National Board Candidate and a highly recognized elementary teacher at Downtown Elementary School. Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 20 years educational experience. If you have any questions or comments, please email Dr. Maxwell at


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