Parents want their children to be successful and happy
at school. Regardless of your own level of education,
you can help your kids succeed in school by becoming
involved, encouraging them, helping them develop good
habits, and keeping them healthy.
- Form positive relationships with your child's teacher(s).
Attend Back to School Night, send an email or voicemail
to introduce yourself, and don't hesitate to contact
a teacher if you have a question or concern. Most
teachers are busy, but they do want to communicate
with parents. If they don't respond right away, try
again. Consider joining a parent organization or volunteer
to chaperone a field trip, dance, or other school
event. Being involved will show your kids that you
think school is important.
- Set regular routines for completing homework. Students
are most successful when they have a regular time
and place to do their homework. Help your student
find a quiet, comfortable place to work. Let your
child know that you expect him or her to finish homework
before going online or hanging out with friends. If
you work in the afternoon, your child may be able
to study in the school or public library or in the
school tutoring center.
- Practice healthy habits. No one can learn when
they aren't feeling well. Children and teens need
plenty of sleep and a healthy breakfast and lunch
to help them concentrate. Teach kids to avoid sugar
and soda, and encourage them to drink lots of water.
- Aim for perfect attendance. It is often difficult
to catch up after an absence, so make every effort
not to schedule appointments or vacations during the
school day/week. (Of course, if your child has a contagious
cold or flu, he or she should stay at home!)
- Nurture and monitor your child's friendships. Developing
friendships is an important part of school for kids
of all ages. In adolescence, these relationships often
become even more central to students' lives. Many
young people need help learning how to meet new friends,
how to deal with conflict, and how to develop healthy,
positive relationships. Encourage your child to invite
a new friend for a visit when you can be home to meet
him or her. Teach your child to use his or her words
when there is a conflict and to listen to the other
person's side. Keep an open ear - does your child's
friends accept your child for who he or she is? does
your child feel left out? is your child experiencing
negative peer pressure or bullying?
- Encourage extracurricular activities. Taking part
in after school and community programs can provide
good role models, and allows young people to explore
their interests, develop new skills, and feel connected
with others. Help your kids select appropriate activities,
such as participating in school sports, the school
play, or a club, or volunteering in the community.
Remember that future employers and colleges and universities
prefer candidates who are well-rounded and involved
in the community.
- Use available resources when needed. Most kids
will struggle at some point during their academic
lives. Ask the school and other parents for support.
Many schools have a free tutoring program and they
can refer you to many other services.
- Be an advocate. Make sure that you are familiar
with the school's graduation requirements as well
as prerequisites for entrance to institutions of higher
learning and advocate for your child to be enrolled
in the appropriate classes. Pay attention to your
child's experience in the classroom. Sometimes there
is a mismatch between student and teacher and it is
appropriate to advocate for a change. Finally, if
your child is struggling with a health issues, a potential
learning disability, or another situation that is
not being handled by the child's teacher or school,
advocate to get your child more resources.
- Be gentle with yourself and your kids. Unfortunately,
grades and school can often be a source of conflict
between parents and kids. When kids struggle, everyone
can feel frustrated and angry. Try to create space
for open communication. Focus on the positive things
you can do to help your kids be more successful. Spend
time talking about topics not related to school.
- Believe in your kids. If you consistently show
your kids that you care about school and that you
are proud of everything they are learning, they will
have a positive attitude about school. While it is
not helpful to set unrealistically high expectations,
low expectations can be equally harmful. Every child
learns in a different way and all children can succeed
if they are encouraged to do their best and feel good
about themselves in school.