'Parent Focus' teaches parents how to help kids with school

KEW GARDENS, Queens (WABC) -- As Jessica Israel prepares her children, 7-year old Elianna and 4-year old Nathan, for a new school year, she knows they will face new educational challenges. After all, it happened last year.

"Specifically in reading and math, and I didn't know how to help her," she said.

That's when she first turned to Parent Education Coach Courtney Hillesheim, an English teacher and parent who offers help through her company, Parent Focus.

"We want the parents to set the routine," Hillesheim said. "We want the parents to build the habits they need -- time management, organization, study skills."

Knowing that windows of time can be limited, Hillesheim works on social media like Facebook Live.

"It's very difficult for parents, especially with older children, to sit down and help them with their homework," she said.

She also works one on one with parents using "The Focused Parent's Homework Checklist" of instructions to help them first set aside a homework area for children.

"We want to make sure that we are focused and engaged and part of building a good routine and building strong habits is location," she said.

She also stresses making a plan.

"Want to start with you math homework? Complete your writing assignment?" she said. "Give them that control, so that they recognize they are accountable."

Then, have them review their work.

"Now they know to look back at their notes and not to rely on an outside source, on a parent or a teacher," she said.

Hillesheim also designed a "Parent Involvement Planner" for both parents and students to track areas that need improvement and achievements, and to help with parent-teacher conferences.

"I designed this like a planner, a day planner," she said. "You are writing in it every day."

Israel said Elianna's grades last term improved, and now she is working with Nathan as he enter Pre-K.

"The plan was really to teach me how to guide Elianna to do her homework and how to build a sense of independence," she said. "We've started incorporating (Nathan) into the session, so that he's learning those skills also."

For more information, visit FocusedParent.com.

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