Every parent wants his or her child to do well in school. To help kids excel academically, parental support is even more important than buying school supplies or clothes. Here are some ways parents or guardians can help their children get and stay on track to be successful students.
Sleep. Small bodies need rest. Experts suggest children between ages 5 and 12 get 10 or 11 hours of sleep each night. In addition to recharging the body, sleep affects the immune system and helps prevent your child from becoming sick. This allows your child to stay in school and be more attentive and active during class.
Establish routines. Humans fear the unknown. This is one of the reasons children do well with routines. Put a system in place so your child knows what to do every morning after getting up and what to do when he or she returns home after school. Having a structured plan in place keeps your child focused, on task and successful in completing required assignments.
Attend parent-teacher conferences. Get to know your child’s teachers and the administrators at the school. When you know who interacts with your child during the day, you can be in contact to learn strategies for achievement. Remember, teachers also benefit from information about what goes on at home and how they can best serve your child’s special needs.
Get digital. Many middle schools set up websites and pages specifically to help parents be more informed and involved. Take the time to log in and get the school calendar, contact information, homework assignments and testing dates. This age group is more prone to “forgetting” about important items. Parents who gather the information from the website will be kept up to date and be provided exact insight on activities. This will help when you ask children about specifics or remind them about tasks or upcoming events.
Prioritize homework time. You don’t have to be a strict “tiger parent,” but the message to a child should be clear: work before play. Make sure your child has all the tools he or she needs, including a good desk, a chair, a quiet workspace, books, a ruler, pencils, etc. Establish regular study hours and inquire about what your child has learned. Doing homework shouldn’t be an unrewarding chore. Encourage your child to share what he or she has taken away from the nightly assignment.
Let them figure things out. To be successful in life, it is important for individuals to know how to right their own ship. The only way adults can do this is if they have learned the skill as children. Encourage your child to think about difficult problems at length before asking you or others for help. Then, don’t simply provide the answer, give them assistance and provide tips on how to figure it out. When they finally do, recognize the achievement and remind your child how it was possible to do it on their own. This process will encourage independence.
Recognize bullying. During middle school, bodies begin changing and social activities become more advanced. Bullying—either in person on online—becomes more prevalent at this age. Parents can help their children by being involved, learning who is at risk and recognizing the signs. There are state laws in Georgia that address and help protect children who are bullied or cyberbullied. Parents should also take steps to ensure their child isn’t the one doing the bullying. Teach respect, encourage empathy and be a good role model.
Get organized. High school students often have more than just classes on their plate. Sports, extracurricular activities and jobs start to load up on their list of commitments and focusing can be difficult. Offer parental guidance, organization and time-management skills. Provide tips for keeping lists, creating calendar reminders or organizing notebooks and binders. Give insight on which tasks should take priority and how to keep from being distracted.
Classes are harder in high school, especially AP courses. Some students need assistance on how to study new information and retain it. Help your child by quizzing them, re-reading notes or giving them practicing problems. Seek out tutoring options. Some schools offer group review sessions or peer-to-peer programs. If teachers don’t already offer additional assistance, ask for tutoring recommendations. They want to see your child succeed in their classes.
Be involved. There are a number of opportunities to volunteer, and schools often welcome parents willing to join in activities. Taking time to chaperone, fundraise, organize an event or even attend a concert or play, shows your child you support him or her and care about his or her school life. Many kids won’t admit it, but parental involvement does make an impression. It also helps parents understand what is going on in their child’s life during school hours. You get to meet his or her friends and see how they interact.
Attendance matters. It is important for high school students to attend school every day, arrive on time and get to class as scheduled. A full load of classes and activities can often overload a student and cause him or her to oversleep or want to skip school. If your teen wants to stay home (or you discover your child has missed school days) it is important to find out what is causing the problem. Talk with teachers or a school counselor to help resolve the issue. Children who have health problems that lead to absences should strive to keep up with the workload. Parents can help these children succeed by talking to administrators to see if it is possible to attend classes via computer. Some schools may accommodate live streaming or other digital connections for a child who is unable to make it to the classroom due to chronic illness.
The Bottom Line
Education is important for success. Parents can help their children by following these tips, having a positive attitude about school and offering encouragement each step along the way. No child can do it alone.