Congratulations! You have just taken the first step in ensuring your child’s success. Studies have shown that the single most important factor in a child’s success in school is parental involvement. What you do with your child is more important than the quality of their school, the neighborhood they’re in, or any other social or economic factor. Isn’t that exciting? You have the power to improve your child's education!
Here is a list of simple, easy things you can do now to help your child:
1. Attitudes - Yes, attitudes. Your child automatically picks up your attitudes, so be positive! Let them know you care and that you believe in their ability to succeed and in the importance of education. Helping them to have a "can do" attitude will help them throughout their life.
2. Communication - Talk to your child about their day, their school, what they’re learning and what successes or problems they’re having. This will help you establish and maintain good communication with them and will pay dividends when you get to those "difficult" years. Doing this will also help you learn what areas they need help with.
3. Expectations - Expect excellence! Studies show that children tend to live up - or down - to your expectations. Let them know you expect their best and won’t settle for less. Discuss things they can do to acheive these expectations. Teach them, from your experience, how to do their best.
4. Time management - Make homework and studying (there is a difference) come first- before TV, before Facebook, games,
texting or anything else. Be firm! Notice how this fits in with attitudes and expectations- if their education is important, of course homework comes first, and if you expect their best, of course homework comes first!
5. Responsibility - Hold them accountable. Check to make sure their homework is done each day. Help them see that they have the power to affect their results. Let them know there will be consequences, good and bad, based on those results. Good grades should be rewarded, with praise if nothing else. Bad grades need to be discouraged. Use corrective measures- if they are getting a bad grade in math, then they need to spend more time on math until their grade improves. This time has to come from somewhere, so it should come from their game-playing time. When their grade improves, they get their time back.
6. Involvement - Go over their homework with them. Don't do things for them, help them to think and analyze. This will also help you to strengthen lines of communication with your child as they get more used to talking to you about different things and see that you are eager to help them.
7. Assistance - Help them, or if you can’t help them, get them help from siblings, other students, relatives, tutors or whoever you can. Check with teachers, the PTA, and the web for resources. Be creative! By the way, you don't have to know the material they are studying. Get them to go back through the material in their textbook to find what they need. You can learn a lot if you do this with them. If neither of you can find the answer, it's time to ask the teacher your question.
8. Teach them - There are many things you can teach them throughout the day, from reading labels at the grocery store to teaching them math while cooking or doing a project around the house. It is also up to you to teach them your values and beliefs - you are the only one who can do that.
Keep your contact as positive as possible. One technique that has widespread use and approval is to always start by praising something, then move on to what needs improvement, and finish by praising something else. This way your conversations will always start and end on a positive note. It is very important that your child feels encouraged, not beaten down. Try to spend as much time on what they are doing right as on what they need to improve. Offer rewards for achievements as well as corrective measures, or even punishments if necessary, for not meeting standards.
You may think some of these suggestions are too simple, too hard, or too naïve, but if you do them your child will get a better education and have a better chance to be successful in life. They are listed in order of how much time each one takes, so even you can’t do them all, you can do the first five.
What would you like to see here? What problems do you have helping your child? We will be starting a forum to allow you to share your successful strategies, questions, and concerns. Until then, if you think of ways for this site to be of more help, please let us know.
For help specific to younger and older children, go to the Next page