Parents, and what they do at home, influence a child’s success at school more than other factors. More so even than a parent’s salary or level of education. Moms and dads are their children’s first teachers after all. When they are involved in what and how they’re kids are doing, the kids fare better. There isn’t any one way to support your student at home. Here are different methods parents can use to encourage academic achievement.
Make your home conducive to learning.
Is education a priority with your actions as well as your words?
For starters, parents must stay on top of children’s screen time. Limit the hours they watch television, play video games or engage online. At the very least, enforce the idea that more time should be spent completing homework assignments, studying, reading books and playing outside.
Set aside a special place in the home to complete homework. Remove distractions and make study time a routine every evening. This helps children see it as a priority as well.
Most schools give students a daily planner. If the teachers don’t require a parent’s initials every day or week, you can require it. When your child regularly fills out assignments, due dates and test dates – reward that behavior. For example, check the planner every day and after a month give them a special treat to show it’s important.
Insist that your children read old-fashioned books at least a half-hour to an hour every day. Reading for pleasure increases comprehension skills. It also winds them down at the end of a long day and gets them for sleep.
Make weekly trips to the library. These are places where children have access to quiet study time and hundreds of free books to check out and read. Libraries also support your student to be an independent learner. Therefore, let kids explore whatever topics they enjoy. Encourage them to continue reading for both fun and knowledge.
Establish reasonable rules about homework, grades and studying that you can enforce consistently. Monitor their progress but encourage kids to take responsibility for themselves. Increase their privileges as they show you they’re up for it.
Understand that you, teachers and school support staff are all on the same team.
Get to know your child’s teacher. If you cannot get to the school to meet in person, email them to introduce yourself as soon as the school year begins.
Give teachers multiple ways to reach you. This includes email and phone numbers – for calls and texts.
If you feel a language barrier, ask the school for an interpreter. Or include a bilingual friend to translate. The important thing is to communicate with teachers, counselors and administration. Work together to ensure success and support your student.
Also regularly attend conferences and open house events at the school. If you cannot attend in person due to work or other commitments, ask about remote options. Video conference with teachers at another time. Or schedule phone calls to check in and make sure your children are progressing as they should.
Be a consistent presence and stay on top of how your child is doing.
Set aside time every day to talk to your kids. Here are some sample questions to get started:
- What’s the best thing that happened to you today?
- What’s the worst thing?
- What made you laugh?
- What made you sad?
- Who was your best friend today? What did you do together?
- What did you learn today that you never knew before?
Family discussions increase vocabulary, non-verbal and verbal communication skills. It’s also a great time for parents to get firsthand information. For example, a ten-minute discussion about how the kids are doing in school, both socially and academically, can tell you a lot.
Children also experience increased self-worth when made to feel important.
Review report cards and progress reports as soon as they come out. If you have concerns, call the school immediately. Find out what services are available to help children who struggle. For example, schedule an IEP to determine if learning disabilities should be addressed.
This extra help ensures your children do not fall behind. It’s also at no extra cost to you.
Make time in your schedule to regularly help organize your child’s desk, backpack and folders. Keep their school work, and homework area, free from clutter. This signals the value of that work.
As much as possible, encourage healthy habits in your home. This helps children do better in school. For instance, make nutritious meals. Avoid sugar and processed ingredients. Also keep kids hydrated and make sure they’re getting enough sleep. This is especially helpful during test times.
As a result, children with stable, healthy homes make better grades.
Actively participate in parent groups to support your student.
Investigate ways that parents get involved at your school.
Read newsletters and emails thoroughly. Socialize with other moms and dads. Join online forums and parent groups if you can’t make it into the school during workdays.
Ask about extracurricular activities, field trips, weekend fundraising events, sports teams or tutoring programs that might need your help.
This is also a good way to discover what opportunities exist for your own child.
Advocate for your kids.
If you see something in your child’s behavior or performance that concerns you, ask their teachers about it. Successful students add to a school’s excellent reputation. The opposite is also true. If students fail, the school fails as well. Therefore, parental involvement is critical for everyone involved.
Every school district has resources to help students in need. This includes free and reduced meals, tutors, and special accommodations for learners who require them. Know your rights and explore what is offered to support your student.
In short, kids do better in school when they have support at home. Find resources in your community or school for more ideas. Create an education-first environment. It will make the school year much smoother for the whole family.