How can I help my child succeed at school?

This week was parent conferences.  I do parent conferences as needed all year, for matters such as discipline or academic problems, but this was the time for those parents whose children are basically doing all right to come in.

I was caught off guard, perhaps, by one mother’s earnest response when I told her that her daughter was a good citizen, exhibited a strong interest in the material, but wasn’t at the top of the class … yet.  “How can I help her do better?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “the child in first grade knows only a few things.  Our job is to attach more things to those they already know.  They write “I like turkey,” we ask, “why?” They count to 100, we ask them what if you take 10 away from 100. They read a book, and we ask them to think of another possible ending. It’s all about expanding their world one step at a time.”

It occurred to me afterwards that this response, though true as far as it went, was rather vague and perhaps too interpretive for some parents.  So I decided to come up with a numbered list of steps to improve your child’s success in school:

  1. Ask how it is going every day.  “What did you learn?” Ask them to explain.
  2. Talk to your child whenever possible — driving in the car, cooking food, walking across town — the more words the child hears, the more intelligent they will become.  Research proven!
  3. Have regular chores for the child and expect that they be done.  This will allow your child to develop self responsibility and know that they can do things for themselves and for others.  Part of this should be a set time for homework each week day.
  4. Severely limit TV, cell phone games and screens of all types, certainly no more than one hour a day, at the end of the day when all work is done.
  5. Read to your child and have them read to you.  Talk about what you read.  Reading at home is a huge advantage for your child.
  6. Whenever possible ask them to think and do things for themselves.  Don’t solve their problems for them until they ask you to.
  7. Provide consistent discipline.  Children need to know their limits and they need to have a consequence of some kind when these limits are broken.  It’s more important that there be consistency than what kind of discipline is used.  Some families put the rules and the consequences on the refrigerator.
  8. Most important you must try to show you love your child every day. Children who are sure they are loved have a huge advantage for life and school  And though I have met a large number of parents, some of whom were struggling in various ways, I have never met a parent who didn’t, underneath it all, love their child and want the child to succeed.  If you are reading this blog post it is obvious you love your child.  Let him or her know this  and tell them it’s because you love them that you want them to do well, in school and in everything.


More on this topic:  Study of parents of successful students in the Phillipines suggests best practices

From KidSource:  How Parents and Family Can Help Children Do Better in School

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