Helping Your Child Succeed in School

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Back to school isn't just for kids. Your involvement is vital for your child's academic success.

With a new school year beginning, you obviously want your child to be successful. Given the limited amount of time a teacher can spend with any one child, you should be actively involved in your child’s learning for him to achieve academic goals. Why is your involvement so important? The U.S. Department of Education says parents who show interest in their child’s education can spark a stronger enthusiasm in their child to learn as well as leading their child to the reality that learning can be enjoyable as well as rewarding.

So, how do you go about it? In the U.S. Department of Education‘s publication, Helping Your Child Succeed in School, the basics include encouraging your child to read — start early! — and have plenty of reading material in your home; talk to your child about his school day and what he is learning; make routine outings (shopping trips, dining out, going to the park, etc.) an opportunity for learning experiences; monitor and help organize your child’s homework and have a special place for your child to study at home; limit TV and video game time; encourage your child to use the library; help your child learn to use the Internet properly and effectively; encourage your child to be responsible and to work independently; and encourage active learning.

In addition to core academic subjects, make time for your child to expand his horizons with extra-curricular activities. Enrichment activities play a big part in a child’s overall education and learning curve … not to mention the fun factor!

It’s no surprise that homework is a kid’s least favorite part of school. Be encouraging by making it a family event. Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book: 4,278 of Mom Central’s Tips For Moms from Moms (Free Press, 2002) and founder of, suggests, “Set a schedule that includes study time for everyone in the house. Don’t allow TV or phone calls during this time. Even when children don’t have homework, make this a time in which reading or extra studying is done. Involve even the youngest children in the house so they get used to the routine.”

John Beaulieu and Alex Granzin, authors of Working Parents Can Raise Smart Kids: The “Time-Starved” Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Succeed in School (Parkland Press, 1998), agree: “Set aside a regular, scheduled study time for your child to do his homework assignments. Younger children who may not have homework every day should still have daily study time. They can use this time for related activities that help them practice academic skills, such as reading or writing. Encourage older children (middle school and high school) who don’t have assigned homework on a particular day to use study time for similar activities.”

School Success Tips

Getting to Know YouGet to know your child’s teacher, and let her know that you appreciate feedback on your child’s progress – both positive and negative. Get to know other school staff members as well. The more involved you are, the better school experience your child is likely to have.

A Place of One’s Own – Every child needs a regular place to do his homework. Important factors in creating a successful homework area include good lighting and a complete set of school supplies.

It’s All About Routine – Set aside a specific time for studying every night. Make sure to include time to go over homework with your child.

Create High Expectations – Your input and feedback profoundly impacts your child’s self-confidence. Be encouraging, and praise your child for the amount of effort that he puts into a project. Reiterate the point that doing his best is what’s most important.

Reading Can Be Contagious – Instill a love of reading by making it a habit in your home. Read to your child (or have your child read) each night before bed for at least 20 minutes. If the child is learning to read, ask him to read to you. For older children, set 30 minutes aside each night for family reading time when everyone reads together silently. Keep plenty of reading materials available – books, magazines and newspapers. If your children see you reading, they’re more likely to embrace it.

Be Prepared for Your Next Parent-Teacher Conference – Find out from your child beforehand what he thinks his academic strengths and weaknesses are. Make a list of questions to go over with the teacher. Inquire about your child’s progress, and discuss anything your unsure of or unhappy with. Figure out ways with the teacher that you can help your child excel in school.

Schools + Communities = Success – Ways to show your support of your child’s school is to volunteer in the classroom, attend special events and join the PTA.

Source: National Education Association

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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