Supporting Your Teen at School

Your child spends almost one-third of their day at school, which makes it an important influence on their life. In the teen years, that influence likely grows as their friends opinions begin to play a more central role in their lives. One of the most powerful indicators of teenagers’ success in school is their connection to school—feeling like they belong at the school and are close to others there, including teachers. Attachment to school is associated with lower use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana, as well as lower rates of sexual activity, fewer thoughts about or attempts at suicide, and lower levels of violent behavior.

Research shows that even in the teen years, parents who are involved in their child’s education improve their academic success. Yet many parents become less involved as their child reaches middle and high school. While your child may be breaking away a bit more as they reach the teen years and look for more independence, there are still ways for you to be involved. The extension office at the University of Minnesota has some suggestions:

  • Expect success
  • Communicate with teachers
  • Support student activities
  • Volunteer in the school
  • Involve both parents
  • Encourage your teen to tutor or mentor others
  • Recognize your teen’s academic accomplishments
  • Create a positive home environment that encourages learning
  • Establish quiet time every night for studying, reading, or writing
  • Provide extra support to your teen during transitional times
  • Talk with your teen about their school classes and activities and monitor their attendance
  • Keep a calendar that lists school events, projects, and activities, as well as family events
  • Use screens wisely
  • Know how and where your kids spend free time, especially after school

For more information on these points, see the full article from Minnesota extension.

Local Unit Spotlight: STEPS PTSA Takes On The World!

Today’s post kicks off a new series highlighting the good things that our local PTAs and Councils are doing. If your PTA or Council would like to brag a bit about what they are doing, send a short write-up to your District or Region Director, noting that it’s for One Voice Illinois. Don’t forget to send us some pictures of your event as well!

STEPS PTSA, servicing the Indian Prairie District 204 transition program for young adults with disabilities, kicked off the 2018 school year in style! More than 50 PTSA members, including parents, teachers, students, alumni, administrators, and school board members were on hand to celebrate a summer of successful and noteworthy achievements.

The STEPS PTSA recognized 17 students and coaches for their accomplishments. Their accomplishments included Special Olympics state qualifiers, members of Team USA—Unified Cup tournament, Special Olympics USA games, Special Olympics World Games, keynote speaker at the National Best Buddies conference, keynote speaker at the Special Olympics Women in Leadership breakfast, MLS All-Star athlete, and members of the Chicago Fire All-Star soccer team. The students and coaches each shared their amazing experiences with the audience and each brought memorabilia, photos, medals, uniforms, and newspaper articles to display. The audience cheered them on waving pom-poms and rally towels. It was a wonderful celebration of student abilities and a fantastic way to start the year!

The STEPS PTSA was formed in 2017 with the goal of focusing on the unique abilities of these young adults and supporting the STEPS Transition Program. The STEPS PTSA works to create social opportunities, activities, and events that allow their members to get involved in the community. STEPS Alumni are an important part of the PTSA. They are invited to join the PTSA so that they will continue to have access to social and community activities and events. The STEPS PTSA knows the importance of building an inclusive culture and breaking down barriers. The sky is the limit for the STEPS PTSA students and alumni!

8 Actions Parents Can Take to End Bullying

It can be difficult as a parent to help your child through being bullied, and even harder when it turns out your child is the bully. Add in cyberbullying, which wasn’t even possible when most of today’s parents were kids, and it can be easy to feel at a loss about what to do.

With recent studies showing that at least half of all children are directly involved in bullying either as the victim, perpetrator, or both, there’s a high likelihood that your child will come in personal contact with bullying. Think Kindnesshas a list of eight actions parents can take to end bullying:

  1. Talk with your kids—every day.
  2. Spend time and volunteer at your school.
  3. Be a good example of kindness.
  4. Learn the signs and symptoms.
  5. Create healthy anti-bully habits early.
  6. Establish household rules about bullying.
  7. Teach your children to be a good witness.
  8. Teach your child about cyberbullying.

The article has additional information on each of these pointsto help you take a pro-active approach to bullying with your child. In addition, your PTA may want to implement PTA’s Connect for Respectprogram at your school. The program provides your PTA with the tools to have a meaningful and productive conversation on bullying with both students and families.

Helping Your Child Deal with Peer Pressure

When your child first heads off to school, you are the most important person in their world and they look to you for guidance. Their teachers in the early grades fill that role as well. But by the time they turn 11, children start caring more about what their other kids think of them than what their parents or other adults think.

As their peers become more and more influential on their lives, some children may struggle with handling that peer pressure effectively.Great Schoolshas six tips to help you help your child resist peer pressureand follow the values your family is trying to instill in them.

  • Don’t overreact.
  • Talk about what makes a true friend.
  • Get to know your child’s friends.
  • Talk about what independence really means.
  • Role play peer pressure.
  • Model saying “No.”

The article has further advice on each of these six points.

Photo © 2013 by Tomunder Creative Commons license.