16 tips to help your child succeed at school
- 1. Establish a morning routine
- 2. Enforce Healthy Habits
- 3. Help Them to Stay Organized
- 4. Read and Learn Together at Home
- 5. Encourage active learning
- 6. Encourage your child to use the library
- 7. Encourage your child to work independently
- 8. Create a Homework Space
- 9. Reduce test anxiety
- 10. Help Them Find Digital Learning Opportunities
- 11. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher
- 12. Show a positive attitude about education to your children
- 13. Communicate and keep track of what is happening at school
- 14. Find what motivates your child
- 15. Let your child learn through trial and error
- 16. Praise and encouragement
As parents, we want our children to reach their best potential and succeed at school. We want them to get the most from their education. This success depends on several factors such as the quality of education provided by the school, the teachers and the resources available. But the most important factor in a child’s academic achievement is parental involvement in the process.
Parents have considerable influence on children’s development as children progress through school. The higher the level of a parent’s involvement, the better the chances of the child’s academic success. Also, this involvement does not end with helping the child with her homework; there is much more as parents influence the development of a child’s character, confidence, values, motivation and a sense of responsibility for schoolwork—all of which play a role in how well a child does at school and at home.
Here are 16 ways we involved ourselves as parents to help our son make the most of his learning potential and to perform well at school. We did not start out knowing everything, but we definitely learned some great lessons along the way!
16 tips to help your child succeed at school
1. Establish a morning routine
The most important thing on this list is to think about the morning routine that you and your child have in place. If mornings are messy and disorganized and there is no time for breakfast, it sets a terrible tone for the day. To make the most of your child’s chances of doing well at school, establishing a strong and consistent morning routine is crucial.
It is a fact that kids thrive on structure and will almost always respond to a routine that keeps their day organized. At the outset, we made sure that our son woke up, made his bed and had his breakfast while I cooked and packed his lunch box. Then together, we went through our checklist to make sure that his bag was packed with everything he needed for school that day—homework, books, etc.
When he returned home after school in the afternoon, he washed up and had a snack. Then we talked about school to review what had happened. After unwinding for a little while, he then did his homework. This was usually followed by play, dinner, then catching up on remaining school work and packing his bag for the next day. He liked to read a bit or listen to music before bed.
While our routines were different, it was the same every day and he knew what to expect. We always found time to talk about school, review what he had to do and help where required.
These days, it can be hard, what with children being exposed to technology with mobile phones, tablets and social media that takes up so much of their time. And this is why a consistent routine and schedule are necessary so that children have enough time to complete school work.
2. Enforce Healthy Habits
This applies to both children and adults – we cannot do our best when we don’t feel good. To make sure children have the best chance of doing well at school, they must have healthy habits at home.
Our son had to be in school by 7.30 am, so we ensured that we picked a bedtime that gave him plenty of sleep. We took care that he had a healthy breakfast in the morning. Healthy habits also mean enough exercise and preferably limiting TV time – so we set aside an hour for TV or listening to music and using the computer.
3. Help Them to Stay Organized
Designate a single place for school bags, jackets, shoes, lunchboxes and school projects to go. It makes it easier to find everything in the morning rush. This is where your child can gather everything she needs for school each day and keep her organized without the stress of forgetting something.
4. Read and Learn Together at Home
Reading is key for a child to succeed at school and taking the time to learn together at home is obviously something that’s very important. We are a family of readers with a fairly decent sized library at home. We made sure that we found time every day to read with our son from a young age. And as he got older, we tried to focus that time on other types of learning too. Learning and discovery doesn’t have to end at the school gates if you want your child to achieve the most at school.
Our son made it easier by asking questions and discussing the stories. It gave us a great opportunity to teach him about choices and consequences. Reading gave us a wonderful way to introduce our son to “heroes”. Have you noticed how we tend to like flawed heroes? We read stories of courage, character and loyalty and lots of history.
Reading also helps with a better understanding of school subjects and sets the pace for lifelong learning.
5. Encourage active learning
Children need actively learning besides quiet learning where they read and do school work.
Active learning happens in the following ways:
- Asking/answering questions
- Solving problems
- Exploring their interests
- Playing sports
- Spending time with friends
- Participating in school plays
- Learning a musical instrument
- Visiting the library/bookstore/museum
Use everyday experiences as teaching opportunities to encourage your child to learn. Teach them to ask “why”. Rather than give them the answers, work through the questions with them.
6. Encourage your child to use the library
Libraries are wonderful places for learning and discovery and encouraging your child to use the library sparks her curiosity and puts her on the path to independent learning. Best of all, libraries are quiet places where students can also tackle their homework.
7. Encourage your child to work independently
Children need to take responsibility and learn to work independently. This sets them up to succeed at school. We established rules that we enforced and explained to our son that he must take responsibility for what he does – at home and at school.
We taught him the value of planning and setting goals; how to split an activity into mini tasks and set about doing them. We encouraged him to tackle his school work on his own.
8. Create a Homework Space
A designated space to do school work can make it easier to finish homework and other school assignments on time. For our son, initially this was the dining table with a tray of supplies. The space was adequate and we also sat with him tackling our own paperwork. Later, we did get him a desk with space to put all his school stuff. We ensured that during homework time, there was no TV and other distractions. We also put up a blackboard where he could note down important due dates and tasks to stay on track.
9. Reduce test anxiety
Working with your child on their study skills and their ability to revise for tests and assessments helps them do better at school. Many children are naturally talented and intelligent but struggle with exam scenarios and other forms of assessment.
It is normal to get nervous with test situations but the important thing is to learn how to approach an exam with the best preparation possible. Basically, this means starting to study well in advance before the test date rather than staying up late the night before
Also, interacting continuously with study material over the long-term means better chances of retention and the ability to retrieve what they learn. Preparing in advance also puts your child in the mental space they need to be in to remember what they learn.
Of course, it goes without saying that children must have a good night’s sleep before an exam and a good breakfast the next morning to give them the energy to do their best. While this can seem challenging, here’s where preparing in advance comes in as it avoids staying up late the night before.
It is also important to encourage children to do their best and this need not always be an A grade – and that’s perfectly okay. We live in a success-driven culture where standardized tests are the norm. We need to let go and recognize the fact that every child is unique; she will have a natural interest in some subjects and may need that extra push with others.
Read: Be better than yourself
10. Help Them Find Digital Learning Opportunities
Digital learning is a part of a child’s school life today and helps with learning and developing outside of school. There are all kinds of options and opportunities, such as those offered by Age of Learning that are worth exploring. Helping them find these resources and encouraging them to make the most of them going forward enables them do better at school.
11. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher
Most schools organize regular parent-teacher meetings. It is important to show up at these. If you are concerned about your child’s learning or behavior, talk to the teacher about it so that you can find solutions together. Perhaps your child is facing bullying, or has difficulty with a certain subject. Schedule a time to talk to the teacher.
12. Show a positive attitude about education to your children
Children develop confidence and a positive attitude to learning based on what we, as parents, say and do. Demonstrating that we value education and use it in our own lives creates a strong role model for them and helps them succeed at school.
13. Communicate and keep track of what is happening at school
Talk to your child about what is happening at school, what they discussed, how she feels about school, her teacher, her classmates. Talk to her about what she likes or doesn’t like at school. Let her express her feelings—her anxieties, what she loves about her day. Show her your support by listening to her. Go through her books with her.
14. Find what motivates your child
As a wise teacher said, empower your child to make choices and do what is right because they see the value of doing their best and not out of fear of punishment. This is a life lesson that stays with them for life as it encourages them to strive to do their best in everything they do. Rather than study for a higher grade or to please the parent, they must learn to study well to learn and grow as a person, to channel their intelligence and make a difference.
15. Let your child learn through trial and error
As tempting as it can be for parents to take over their child’s work, there are consequences. Successful students learn by making mistakes and failing. More often than not, life’s best lessons come from learning how not to do things. If parents do their child’s work for them, they deny them the opportunity to practice and to take the responsibility for finishing the work—not to mention the joy of accomplishment.
16. Praise and encouragement
One of the most important things for a child to succeed at school is for parents to constantly cheer them on. They need to believe in themselves and have self-confidence. They need to know that regardless of what is on their report card, they are loved and have the ability to achieve their goals. Parents must help their children discover their talents and cultivate them. If there is something they are struggling with, they must notice the little successes. Letting your child know you are proud of who she is every step of the way is crucial for her to succeed at school.
Most of all, the best way to support your child is to expect her to succeed. It has nothing to do with being the best at anything. Instead, it is about doing her best and being proud of what she can accomplish. When your child understands this and grows up in an environment that encourages learning, she has the greatest chance of becoming the best version of herself.