Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Ask the Teacher
Undesirable friends, looping, time management and tutoring

by Deb Krupowicz

April 01, 2013

Question: I know that I can’t pick all of my daughter’s friends, but I just can’t get comfortable with one of them. What can I do to influence who she spends time with?

The worst thing a parent can do is to expressly prohibit a child from being friends with someone. This creates a great deal of confusion about your acceptance and tolerance of others and can lead to a rebellious attitude, inviting your child to defy your restrictions.

Instead, invite the undesirable friend to your home and include her on family outings. Getting to know her may help you to have a better understanding of what your child sees in her as a friend, and you may change your mind about their friendship. Perhaps your child’s opinion of the person will change when she sees her in the context of your family. If there is no change in your opinion or your child’s, you will have specific situations to discuss with your child about the best attributes of a true friend.

Question: Our principal recently mentioned that she was advocating that teachers begin looping. What exactly is “looping?” What kind of impact would that have on my child’s education?

Looping is an educational practice where one teacher teaches a class of students at one grade level for one school year and then moves to the next grade level with that same group of students for the following year. Simply stated, a child would have the same teacher and the same classmates for two consecutive school years.

This practice eliminates the “learning curve” for both the teacher and the students that occurs at the beginning of the year. The teacher already knows the students personally and academically, and the students understand the teacher’s expectations. Both teacher and students can hit the ground running. Stronger relationships between students, teachers, and parents typically result in greater student achievement.

Parents are usually given the opportunity to opt out of looping if there has been a struggle between the parents and the teacher, between the student and the teacher, or between the student and a classmate.

Question: My child is very busy with soccer and music lessons. Fitting in time for studies is almost impossible. How can I help him manage his time so that I am not constantly nagging?

We’ve all been known to say, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” Helping your child learn to manage his time well will benefit him for a lifetime.

Purchase a basic day planner or make one yourself. It is best to use one that shows one month at a time and has lines. Have your child record all of his required extracurricular commitments in one color of ink and school-related commitments in another color. Include standing quiz and tests dates and daily reading or skill practice times required by your child’s teacher. Add events in which your child would like to participate in pencil. Discuss what time of day works best for homework. For some children that is right after school; others need a chance to unwind and play before they can be productive. Early risers can use a block of time before school as a designated homework time. Plug homework time into the daily commitments.

Keeping homework to a minimum on the weekend works well for some kids, but with a busy extra-curricular schedule, using weekend time may put the rest of the week in a better light. Help your child to determine whether dedicating some weekend time to school work is in his best interest.

Look over the calendar with your child daily, encouraging him to follow through on the plan the two of you have made. Rather than nagging your child to do something, refer him to his calendar. When unexpected things come up, help your child to see how adjustments to his plan can be made to allow him to meet his obligations in a stress-free way.

Question: My child is struggling with school. We have considered hiring a tutor. How do I find a reliable one?

First, be sure that you know specifically what your child needs. Is the challenge coming in one particular subject area or with a specific concept? Will the tutor be needed to help develop study and organizational skills or better discipline? Do you see this as a short or a long term need?

Once you have defined exactly what your child needs from a tutor, consult the school counselor. She typically has a list of available teachers or community members who tutor. Another great resource is your high school’s National Honor Society. Cadet teachers, high school juniors and seniors who plan to go into education sometimes enjoy one-on-one work with younger students.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at