History to hygiene

Discover what your child is learning

Discover what your child is learning

January 26, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

It's hard to believe that half of the school year is over. As parents, we've signed report cards from the second marking period. Now we can help our children gear up for the third quarter.

Typically, this is the most challenging time of the school year. New concepts are introduced, and the pace is interrupted by few holiday breaks.

How can we help our kids have the stamina to thrive during the next nine weeks?

The first challenge is to keep them healthy when they are exposed to so many germs in their educational surroundings.

(It's almost humorous that as I am writing this column Tuesday afternoon, my son is on one couch, and my daughter is on the other. He has strep throat. She woke up this morning with a stomach virus. Perhaps I should have majored in nursing so I would be more prepared for weeks like this. On second thought, a business management degree also would come in handy in light of all the rescheduling that's involved when a child gets sick.)


Forgive my digression. Mothers who have sick children have difficulty focusing. Ask any pediatrician.

Back to helping your child academically.

Do you know what your child is learning in school? If not, ask questions. Provide materials at home that will supplement what is being taught in school. This doesn't have to take a lot of time or energy. Just spend a few minutes each day helping your child to think.


For example, if your child is learning a new concept in math, try to find practical ways to apply that concept. If he's learning multiplication and division, show him how you use these skills in real life. If you're setting up chairs for a meeting, how many rows will you need if there are four seats in each row and 20 people are coming? Or, how many cookies will fit on a cookie sheet if you place three balls of dough in three rows?


Ask what your child's class is reading. Perhaps you could find another book by the same author. Maybe you could set aside some time as a family to read aloud for 10 to 15 minutes each evening. If your child's class just read "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White or if you saw the movie, check out "Stuart Little" or "Trumpet of the Swan," other E.B. White books that are delightful tales for children.


This is the time of year that children are learning about presidents, black history and women's history. Talk about some of your favorite time periods in history. Find out what periods most interest your child. Perhaps you could take a daytrip to learn more about that era, or you could find museum exhibits that would enhance the study of that time.


Are there any simple experiments that you can do at home to help your child understand basic scientific principles? How do you use science at work? (If you use a computer or any kind of electrical equipment, science is present in your workplace.)

Science also plays a part in keeping children healthy so they can learn.

Take, for instance, hand washing. Each time we're in a public restroom and someone leaves without washing her hands, my daughter looks at me with wide eyes. How could they leave without even stopping at the sink? Apparently, a lot of people do. According to KidsHealth,, one in three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.

Those of us who do wash our hands are at the mercy of those who don't. Each time we touch a doorknob or shake hands with someone who hasn't washed, we are exposed. Those types of germs are interesting to study, and having a discussion about them might raise your child's interest in science.

You are the key to unlocking the door of success for your children. (Just make sure the doorknob is clean before you touch it.)

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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