Improve your child's school success
By Alex Brooks |
positive student

Is there anything parents can do at home to help their child do better in school? The answer is yes. Creating a calm and happy home where children can flourish educationally isn't as easy as it sounds

Be explicit about your expectations

Most of us are keen to make sure our children's self esteem never suffers and we often encourage and praise small successes without making it clear that we expect children to do the hard work to improve, Often, parents don't tell their children that just "doing OK" or getting straight Cs is unacceptable. It can help for parents to talk about goals that took a lot of hard work, such as going to university or saving up to buy a house, so that kids understand that worthwhile things take hard work and often involve doing things that they don't want to do at the time.

Family mood and outlook

Your child's mood affects how well he learns. A positive outlook is the best thing you can inspire in your children to keep them performing well at school and willing to tackle their homework.

Computer and TV screens can tire some children out cognitively and visually, so limit viewing and computer time to certain times every day to keep your child free for homework.

Provide the basics

A mum can make sure her child gets plenty of sleep, eats the right foods, and has clean clothes to wear and a packed lunchbox each day.

Proving education is important to you is easy if you participate in school life - showing up at sports events, school concerts, assemblies and excursions is great. And most schools are keen for you to volunteer in the classroom, especially in the younger grades.

Put notes reading "I love you" or "Have a great day" note in their lunchbox to surprise them - perhaps with a gold coin for them to go and spend at the canteen on a special snack.

Get to know your child's teacher, subjects, and classmates. Keep teacher-parent communication ongoing throughout the year.

Create a great learning environment

Create an environment that she'll learn best in. Her study area should include an appropriate size desk with drawers, a chair that's comfortable, and good lighting. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the child's room: try the living room, a nook, or the family room.

Work with your child to set up a homework time frame that matches his rhythm. After a post-school snack? Is it better to wait until after dinner? Keep the time free of other commitments and phone calls. Make it a family "study" time: read the newspaper while your son studies. Try to check finished work to show you care and offer your child the chance to ask you any questions.

Don't do the kids' homework for them. Teach them how to use the dictionary, the library, and find online resources rather than look up the question for them. It is much more beneficial for them to learn how to do the work on their own than have you fill in the blanks for them too quickly.

Create a love of self-learning

Learn at home, too. Get kids thinking about subjects they are interested in. Ask them for more details and encourage them to find the answers, even if it means a couple of lessons showing them the ins and outs of Google and search engines. Make sure they know how to take notes, how to summarise what they have read, and how to go about finding answers to their questions. These skills will come in handy no matter what they are learning. Don't assume that school is all of the learning practice they need - reinforce it at home as much as time allows.


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This article was written by Alex Brooks for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading back to school resource.


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