What You Can Do at Home to Help Your Child Succeed at School
Research shows that children are more likely to succeed in school if parents or caregivers take an active part in their education. A good education is important for finding a good job and having a good future. It makes sense to help your child do well at school. Most parents want to get more involved in their child’s education, but may not be sure how to begin. A great starting point is sharing a positive attitude about school with your child.
Remember, you don’t have to know how to do the homework to help your child succeed in school.
Helping Your Child Succeed at School
Share your ideas about the importance of education with your child.
Talk about ties between what your child is learning today and how that knowledge might be used in the future. Begin to talk about possible education goals for your child. If you begin to think about goals, your child will, too. Talk about technical and professional schools in your area, careers that you find interesting, or people you have met that seemed to enjoy their work. Let your young student know that they have many educational possibilities!
Be careful not to pass on negative attitudes about school that may be a part of your own past experience.
Without realizing it, you could start your child off on the wrong foot by recalling bad memories from your own school days. Giving children the idea that school is too difficult, that teachers are unfair, or that school isn’t important will discourage them from doing well. Instead, talk about your friends from school, your favorite teachers or your best subject. If school was a bad experience for you, you might tell them you made the mistake of not liking school and you don’t want them to do the same.
A positive attitude about school is perhaps the most important gift you can give your child.
Help your child set education goals, both short term and long term.
Talk to your child about the future and plans for high school, technical school or college. Tell your child you hope they will be successful in school.
A short-term goal may be finishing a writing assignment by Sunday night.
A long-term goal could be attending a trade school, the local community college or a university after high school.
Talk to your child about what they are learning at school.
From kindergartner to high school senior, it’s important to ask students about their school subjects. Ask open-ended questions about their class work —questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or ‘no.” Share any knowledge you have, and if you are curious, read the textbook!
Help your child get organized to do homework.
Create a study area or corner for homework. You can start this as early as first grade, and it becomes more important as homework is assigned. Have a table and chair in a quiet place away from the TV, perhaps in the corner of a bedroom. Add a lamp, if needed. Add a box for books and supplies. Make a special trip to the store to buy supplies such as paper, pencils, and colored pens. As your child gets older, add a clock. Help keep this area tidy and ready for use.
Have a place to keep all communications from school.
All schools are making an effort to keep in better touch with parents. Most communication is on paper and is sent home with your child. This includes reports on your child’s grades, lunch menus, coming events, newsletters, requests for materials from home, and so on. After you have read them, save them all in a box, basket, or easy-to-find location. This system will save the day over and over when a form needs to be read or returned to the school and your child is hurrying out the door. It takes some effort to make this plan work, but it also lets your student know that these communications from school are important to you.
Make rules about homework.
Decide with your child on a good time to do homework and stick to that schedule as much as possible. Try to keep noise down during study times.
Ask what homework your child has been assigned and look it over when it is finished. Don’t be a tyrant about homework, though. The goal is for the student to be responsible for getting it done without excessive nagging. If homework isn’t getting done, talk to the teacher about ways to help your child. A joint effort may work better than “laying down the law.” Some schools post assignments and grades online or record homework assignments on telephone voice mail.
Help with assignments if you are asked, but don’t feel bad if you are unfamiliar with a subject. School has changed since you attended! The teacher is always there for additional help.
Make interactive homework fun.
Many teachers assign projects that require a student to interview adult family members. For example, elementary students may ask questions about their ancestors: what was their country of origin and when did they come to North America Your young interviewer may ask opinions on current events, favorite books or hobbies. Respond with enthusiasm and give your child as much help and good information as you can. One of the purposes of this type of assignment is to practice good conversation skills with your children.
A study of students who get good grades showed that children whose parents talk to them almost every night at dinner do better in school than children who rarely talk to their parents except to argue. Message: try to eat one meal seated together and talk about what’s going on in everyone’s life without arguing.
Do a community service project together.
Watch for opportunities for the whole family to join a park cleanup, to collect food for the hungry, or simply to help an elderly neighbor with chores. Doing things together for others helps students practice cooperation and caring, skills they will need to be successful in school and on the job.
Help your child do research projects at your library, museum or nature center.
Provide transportation to the library for work on projects. Access to learning centers other than school introduces children to the world of learning outside of school.
Help your child succeed at school—work with the teacher!
One reason parents say they don’t know how to help their children at school is because schools have changed so much since they were students. Subject matter and teaching methods are different and unclear to parents. Parents often feel that teachers talk down to them or that teachers are not honest with them. Student learning patterns have also become much more visual and fast-paced with the advent of television and video games.
These barriers are very real. The good news is that schools are aware of these communication problems and want to work with both teachers and parents for the good of the student. These problems will not be solved immediately, but at least they are out in the open and can be discussed. Much of what is needed between the parent and the teacher is better communication. By being open minded and willing to try new ways, you will help your child succeed in school.
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