________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006


Help Your Child to Succeed: The Essential Guide For Parents. (Family Learning).

Bill Lucas and Alistair Smith.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 2004.
96 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 1-55138-179-6.

Subject Headings:
Early childhood education-Parent participation.
Education, Elementary-Parent participation.
Readiness for school.
Success in children.
Child rearing.


Review By Gina Varty.

**** /4



Spending time with your children is one of the most important gifts you can give them. Try to have some time when you remove all disruptions and concentrate exclusively on your child. You might read a book together, visit a play area or fix a bicycle. This Together Time is when you can shape attitudes and develop the kind of positive habits that encourage learning.


Learning together is what Help Your Child To Succeed is all about. Subtitled The Essential Guide for Parents" it is that and so much more. Acknowledging that children spend less that 15% of their waking hours at school, the authors note that that leaves many possible moments in a day for shared learning. This book offers a cornucopia of ideas and activities to fill those moments and ultimately make an enormous difference in any child's chance of success in life.

     This richly colourful and creatively designed book is a feast for the eyes. From the diverse mixture of people on the cover through to the various family groups pictured within, the book covers the spectrum of what it means to be a family in today's ever-changing world. It is also fun to find yourself in one or more of the illustrations (I'm partial to the book reader on page 44).

     A creative feature of this book is colour coding. The edges of the pages in each chapter are coloured and outlined in contrasting colours so that you have an introduction in two shades of grey, then chapter 1 in two shades of blue, followed by chapter 2 in two shades of yellow, and so on through to chapter 9 and then concluding with the resource list in two shades of grey. The result is an easy to use reference guide that can be easily dipped into and is pleasurable to read.

     Although the book is highly entertaining, it is also thought-provoking. Each chapter may feature a small cartoon image that summarizes its title; however, each chapter also opens with four or more thought-provoking questions that introduce the topics it covers, followed by a fun quiz. Activities and tips exploring various concepts are plentiful throughout the text, and the key points are summarized at the end of each chapter in a short checklist illustrated with an elephant to help you never forget.

     The chapters:

1. It Starts With You! Being your child's first teacher -- learning styles, aspirations, coaching.

2. Your Child is a Learner How you and your family can become learners -- PDQ : Plan for it Do it Quiz yourself about it.

3. Go For It! Overcoming barriers to learning -- stress, peers, motivation.

4. Your Learning Home Using your home for family learning -- creating a learning environment.

5. Classrooms on Your Doorstep Getting the best out of your location -- places to learn - libraries, clubs, holidays.

6. Getting unstuck Learning the benefits of being positive -- being positive, persistent, problem solving.

7. You've Got a Friend Exploring how friends and family can help -- extended family, mentors.

8. Letters and Numbers Helping your child with literacy and numeracy. -- encouraging reading and writing and counting.

9. Beyond the School Gates Getting the best out of your child's school -- preparing for school, homework.

Resources -- games for learning and websites.

     Each chapter also has a scattering of facts under a large ? [question mark] and the tag "Did You Know?" Three of my favourites: "Did you know?" ... "That if your child has low self-esteem, it's like driving through life with the breaks on?" (p. 7) "That laughing can help you to remember things?" (p. 19) "That most barriers exist only inside our heads?" (p. 29)

     This book is highly recommended for anyone in addition to parents, seeking simple and constructive ways to support a child's learning and make a difference in a child's life for years to come.

Highly Recommended.

Gina Varty, a teacher-librarian in Edmonton, AB, currently provides library supply for Edmonton Public Schools.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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