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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 18, 2006

Prepare children early for college

By Marissa Tamonte

Helping your child get a college education is an investment that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

A college education helps develop invaluable skills and knowledge, and opens doors to better job opportunities and higher salaries. By the time a child is in sixth grade, he can begin preparing for college.

Here's how:

Get organized. Help your child learn to budget time and manage his schedule. Your child can use a simple planner to write down assignments and activities and keep better track of them. This will help him prioritize time for homework, studying and extracurricular activities.

As your child goes on to high school and college, his schedule will only get more hectic, so learning how to budget time and stay organized early on is essential.

Study, study, study. Learning how to efficiently prepare for tests is a vital skill that your child should learn at a young age. Every child has a certain study style, so see what works best for your student. Try studying alone, studying in a group, using flashcards, or even try quizzing him yourself.

Encourage your child to try different methods and see what works best. Tests are central throughout higher education, so getting your student comfortable and confident with test-taking is important.

Reading is key. By making reading a habit, your child can lay the groundwork for learning for the rest of his life. When your student plans each day, make sure at least 15 minutes to 30 minutes is allotted for reading.

Consistent reading will increase your child's skills, speed and vocabulary. This will be valuable not only with daily academics, but also with future college entrance exams.

Get involved. Middle school and high school are not simply about what classes your child takes. Extracurricular activities are important to your child's future as well. How a student uses free time is important to high schools, colleges and employers.

Help your child to pursue his interests. For example, if your student likes photography, encourage him to join the photojournalism club or the yearbook staff. Have your child keep track of his activities to create a resume. This will help when applying to college or seeking scholarships.

Think ahead. Even in middle school, course selection counts. High school classes build on those in middle school, so help your child select courses that match his abilities, but are also challenging.

Many middle schools offer classes such as Spanish and algebra that will allow your student to be ahead of the curriculum in high school. Be sure to review the high school's graduation requirements, as well as college admission course requirements.

This way, your child will be well prepared to apply to the college of his dreams.

This column is provided through the Hawai'i State Teachers Association. Marissa Tamonte is an eighth-grade language arts/reading teacher at Kalakaua Middle School.