Our Islands, Our Future

With 30 years of teaching experience, Karolyn Mossman knows what works in the classroom. Yet the Kalama Intermediate School teacher says that what happens outside of the classroom — at home — can really make a difference in the academic success of students. Parents and guardians can help by showing they care about their children’s school work and by creating a home environment that sets them up for success.

Keiki thrive on consistent routines, she says. “Bedtime, meal time, study time and leisure time are essential for most children,” Mossman says. “It also means building in adequate time for eating and resting. Sleep is a regenerative process. Children’s brains need rest for learning, retaining, thinking and using all the information we want them to take in.” She also recommends parents try to free their children of distractions, like television, and check on homework. However, says Mossman, “They don’t have to get everything right all the time. Avoid the temptation of doing it for them. If they rush through it at home without effort, correct them by focusing on the effort, not on the product. “If they have no homework, or say they have no homework, have them read, or write a journal entry for an age-appropriate period of time — TV off, video games not allowed. Get them into the routine of completing an academic task at home for a specified period of time daily.”

As students head back to school, Mossman recommends checking their backpacks daily during the year for notes from teachers. “Communication is best when both the family and the school can share perspectives and collaborate for the student’s best progress,” says Mossman, a longtime leader in the Hawaii State Teachers Association. She reminds parents and guardians not to forget about their child’s stomach. “Eating properly increases your children’s wellness and school success,” she says. “Worry less about weight than about healthy food habits.”