Family Table Talk Tip

Celebrate your child’s very own library card

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What do you do to celebrate special days in your child’s life? Did you take pictures on the first day of school? Did you save a lock of hair from his first haircut? Getting a library card is another big “first.” It opens a world of learning to your child. If he doesn’t have a …Read More


Help make the school a safe and happy place for learning

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You want your child to behave at school and be safe here, too. So, be sure to discuss behavior and safety issues. Review the school rules and discipline policies together. Let your child know you expect her to follow them. Get involved with school efforts to prevent problems, such as violence among students, too. Meet …Read More


Build time to dream into your child’s schedule

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It may sound surprising, but daydreaming can be a useful activity as kids start thinking in more abstract terms. Daydreaming helps children reduce stress. It allows them to be creative, develop empathy and spend time on self-reflection. Give your child some free time and a place where he won’t be disturbed. Build some downtime into …Read More


Keep an eye on extracurricular activities

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A whole new world of activities opens up once a child reaches the teen years. And many teens dive right in. This is mostly good. Activities build friendships, teach respect and can be an important part of a college application. But it’s possible to overdo a good thing. If your teen has so many activities …Read More


Physical fitness improves health…and school achievement

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Research shows that physical fitness is linked to higher self-esteem and attentiveness in school. Encourage your child to get active by making it fun. Instead of saying, “It’s time to exercise,” plan a physical activity he will like. When your child has a friend over, suggest they play games that involve movement, like Simon Says …Read More


Inspire your child’s internal motivation

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Does your child practice free throws for hours, but whine after five minutes of math problems? Tap into the internal motivation that drives her on the court to motivate her efforts in school. You can do it by praising her efforts. Talk about how hard she’s worked and how proud you are when she sticks …Read More


Reading jitters? Try reading to a furry friend

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If your child has trouble with reading, he may feel self-conscious reading aloud. But it’s important for him to practice so he can improve. A family pet can be a nonjudgmental audience that will help your child feel at ease. If you don’t have a pet, suggest that your child try reading to a favorite …Read More


A research journal lets your child dive into favorite topics

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Journaling over the summer is a great way for your child to keep her writing skills sharp. If she doesn’t know what to write about, suggest that she keep a research log. Have her pick a subject she loves, such as swimming. Then she can research facts to write about. How would she describe the …Read More


Let success be the reward for chores

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Chores help children develop a sense of responsibility. But getting your child to pitch in should be more like coaching a team than running a business. Instead of paying him to do a routine chore, help your child learn that when everyone helps out, success for all is the reward. Improve the experience by letting …Read More


Engage with reading, even after ‘The End’

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Some of the best reading times come after you’ve closed the book. After reading aloud with your child, ask her to retell the story in her own words. Help her make connections between the book and her own life. Has she ever felt like any of the characters in the story? If the story is …Read More


Learn the basics of discipline that works

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Many parents worry about their approach to discipline. Experts say effective discipline starts with setting a few essential, reasonable rules. Be clear about why you’ll enforce each rule. Explain to your child that breaking a certain rule will always lead to a particular consequence. Choose consequences that relate to the misbehavior and are meaningful to …Read More


Ask ‘What if?’ before taking action

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Does your teen often rush into action before thinking? That’s because his brain is still developing. The human brain is not “adult” until the early 20s. And one of the last things to develop is self-control. Rather than scolding him when he acts quickly, encourage your teen to stop before he acts and ask himself, …Read More


Check out your teen’s part-time job

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A part-time job can be a big step toward independence for your teen. But it’s important that it be safe. Visit her workplace once or twice to check it out. Is it clean? Who are her coworkers? Then, talk to your teen about her work. She should be learning something, even if it is just …Read More


The path to the future starts with a dream

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When is the last time you asked your teen what he wants to be when he grows up? If his answer was “dinosaur-riding cowboy,” it’s time to ask again. Talk with your teen about his dream job. If he’s not sure about it, discuss his hobbies or his favorite classes. They can lead to ideas …Read More


Before you see that summer hit, read it with your teen

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This summer, get together with your teen for a book and a movie. Choose a movie you’d both like to see that is based on a book. But before you watch it, check out a couple of copies of the book from the library and read it with your teen. When you’ve both finished, watch …Read More


A monthly allowance offers more money, more time, more responsibility

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Many parents give their teens a weekly allowance. To help your teen learn to budget for the real world, consider changing the schedule to monthly. Your teen will have to learn to manage a larger sum of money over a longer period of time. She may make mistakes at first, like spending her whole allowance …Read More


Teens need privacy. But how much?

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Privacy is often a thorny issue between parents and teens. Teens need time alone to read, think, listen to music and dream. An hour or two of alone time is fine. But they shouldn’t retreat to their rooms to avoid the rest of the family completely. Don’t search your teen’s room unless you have a …Read More


Guide your teen’s college search, but let her make the choice

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Choosing a college may be the most important decision your teen has to make. You can give her the facts she needs, such as the amount you can contribute to college costs, and help her clarify what factors are important to her. When it is time to apply, you can help her find out what …Read More


Where is a great place to read? Everywhere

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Sounding out every word on a page can take so much mental energy your child may not have enough left to understand what she’s reading. To help her gain reading fluency, keep books handy wherever you go. Your child can read while waiting in line or before a doctor’s appointment. If she loves a book …Read More


Approach responsibility from many angles

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What makes a student responsible? Many things, including honesty, courage and self-control. Teach honesty by making it a family habit to admit mistakes, learn from them, apologize and move on. Prepare your child to stick to what he believes is right by role-playing what to do in tough situations. Encourage his self-control by helping your …Read More


Life would be boring if people were all alike

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A child who respects people of all ethnic groups, religions and abilities will get along in school and in life. Tell your child about the diversity in her background. Did her ancestors come from different countries? Encourage her to think about how people should treat others who are different from them. Then ask your child, …Read More


Help your child take an interest in volunteering

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Doing community service helps students develop leadership, initiative and other positive qualities that carry over into their school lives. To find a project that suits your child, brainstorm with him about things he cares about. Animals? The environment? Choose an activity that matches his interests and suits his personality. A shy child might enjoy working …Read More


Trash to treasure: Turn junk mail into a math lesson

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Have your child collect your mail for a week and sort it into two stacks, one for junk mail, one for regular mail. She should track the daily count of each type of mail on a chart. At week’s end, ask questions like, “What is the total amount of junk mail for the week?” “If …Read More


Your child has questions. Show how to find the answers

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Most children like to ask questions. It’s how they learn. But you may not always know the answers. So help your child learn how to locate information. Type his question into an online search engine. (Why do zebras have stripes?) But don’t stop there. Help him think of additional key words to look up (animal …Read More


Teach your teen six steps to problem-solving

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Both in school and out, teens need effective problem-solving skills. Teach your teen this six-step method: 1. Identify the problem. If it’s a conflict, she should state all sides. 2. Think of possible solutions. 3. List the pros and cons of each solution. 4. Decide on a solution. 5. Act on the decision. 6. Evaluate. …Read More