Helping kids succeed at homework

January 17, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

The dog ate my homework!"

That excuse won't cut it anymore with parents of students at J.F. Kennedy Middle School in El Centro, at least not with the parents who "graduated" Tuesday night from a six-session course called "How To Help Your Child Succeed With Homework."

The brainchild of Kennedy Principal Suzanne Smith, the program has been running in weekly class format since late November and is funded in part by the federal 21st Century education grant program.

Recognizing that children do better in school when they have an organized and systematic approach to homework and have parents actively engaged in the process, Smith and her staff are passionate about the program and proud of the parents who completed the course.


The course, in weekly components, dealt with concepts ranging from the need to stress to children the importance of homework through successful ways to communicate with your child's teachers.

As the last session drew to a close Tuesday night, counselor Jessie De Los Santos addressed the English-speaking class on how to work closely and effectively with their children's teachers, parents listened attentively.

They laughed appreciatively when De Los Santos put a cartoon on the overhead projector that showed two students walking along with one student saying, "My mom's been talking to the teacher again — now I've got to come up with a whole new set of alibis."

In another classroom the same lecture was presented in Spanish.

To mark the completion of the inaugural homework course, parents and their children were served dinner and parents were presented with wooden plaques.

Just to sweeten the deal, raffle tickets were drawn at the end of the evening with a Sony PlayStation and two impressive- looking mountain bikes as prizes.

Course participants Stephan and Kathi Lobstein of El Centro praised the program and said it had empowered them to help their son Stephan Lobstein Jr., a seventh-grader at Kennedy.

The elder Stephan Lobstein observed that he hoped the program would one day be implemented in the elementary school system where the Lobsteins have two younger children.

Wednesday afternoon, Smith and principals from schools that feed into Kennedy met to discuss just that — the upcoming implementation of the homework program in grades four and five at Martin Luther King, Lincoln and McKinley elementary schools in El Centro.

The second course of "How To Help Your Child Succeed With Homework" at Kennedy Middle School will commence Feb. 5.

For further information call the school at 352-0444.

Parents of students at elementary schools involved in the program will be notified by their respective schools as to starting dates.

Child care and transportation will be available for all courses and participants may elect to take the course in either Spanish or English.

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

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