How to help your child succeed at school
The education system of the United States is counted among the best in the world, but even with world class teachers, dedicating individualized time for each student is limited within the school day. This is why it is important for the family to be involved in the education process and help reinforce skills learned in school at home. Students, especially those in elementary school, often require help to achieve academic success.
How to help your child succeed at school? For starters, it is necessary to be up-to-date with your child’s school activities so that you would be able to help. This does not mean that you should do your child’s homework for them, but they will certainly need help to master all their responsibilities. The best way to help them is by showing them how to organize their time, and by teaching them how to behave in a group.
How to prepare your child for school responsibilities?
Regardless of their level of education, i.e. whether they are in elementary school, high school, or in college, the needs of children are similar, the only difference is their complexity. Many challenges will be easier to master with the help of one’s parents, which is why helping your child is paramount for success.
It is important to know that education begins long before formal schooling. Children learn from an early age, acquiring work habits and forming their identity. Therefore, parents should not wait for their children to start school to start working with them. Parental involvement is the key to success, so we will list some of the most important elements that could help your child achieve their full potential:
Work habits and organization
Responsible behavior toward one’s duties and obligations and good organization are essential for successful education. A child with developed work habits will find it much easier to cope with their new responsibilities, and thus finish them faster. As a result, the child will acquire new knowledge more easily, and have more time for extracurricular activities. This can be done by focusing on several aspects:
- Defining household rules – children make best progress when they have clearly defined responsibilities and daily rhythm. School obligations just add up to this daily schedule: bed time, meal time, free time, and study time. Certain activities should always occur at the same time, because it helps children to define their priorities (they know exactly when it is time to play, and when to study).
- Defining household chores – one should not rely on school to instill work habits in their child. A very useful, and a very effective way to do that is by defining household chores. These can be small things, such as collecting toys after playing, or vacuuming and washing dishes, or mowing the lawn. This way, children will learn the basics of teamwork (after all, family is a team), and gain a sense of responsibility toward others, as well as satisfaction of a job well done. This is also how they will acquire work habits needed for success at school.
- Rewards and penalties – speaking about disciplining children, it is very important to always keep your promises, if possible. So, if you promised they would be punished for a poor grade, you have to keep your promise without concessions. The same applies to rewards, because the child must never feel cheated. Whatever it is, good or bad, be sure to always keep your promises, because by breaking them, you are telling the child that it is okay to lie and manipulate people (although that was not your intention). This segment of child rearing is very important, because the child learns to respect rules and authorities like parents or teachers from an early age.
Create a workspace for your child
Just like adults, children also need a designated “workspace” or study space. It is a very important process that requires a high level of focus, and this is much easier to achieve if we define a study space from the outset, without any unnecessary details that could distract the child’s attention from studying. The child’s workspace does not have to be a separate room, or even a separate desk, it can be just a desk that is used for other purposes as well. Help your child by designing their workspace together (or modifying existing space) so that it contains everything they need for learning.
When they need to do homework, or study for an exam, every detail can prove distracting. This is why their workspace should be uncluttered, containing only the things needed for learning, without toys, posters, phones, etc. In time, the child will develop a habit of fulfilling their obligations on time, so the need for a separate workspace and special preparations will cease.
Be up-to-date with their school responsibilities
To be able to help your child with their school responsibilities, you need to always be up-to-date. It is the first day of school which means that in addition to your child, you also have new obligations. It may sound challenging, but apart from being time-consuming, it is also an opportunity to spend quality time with your children and get to know them better.
For adults, school is a place for learning and grading, but it is also a place where children grow up, spend time with their friends, develop various emotions and learn important life lessons. This is why it is crucial to become part of this process so as to help your child become the best version of themselves. In order to achieve that, you need to be up-to-date with what happens in the classroom (and outside of it).
Take part in school activities
There are many ways in which you can actively participate in your child’s school life. On the one hand, there are joint activities that require parental presence, such as school holidays. In addition, you can also contribute by helping in the organization of school activities, such as concerts, recitals, plays, sport events, and volunteering in humanitarian activities. It is important to find a good balance between letting your child know that what they do matters to you, and not making them feel uncomfortable and embarrassed in front of other children by hovering around.
Help them master the material
When you are up-to-date with your child’s teaching material and progress, it will be easier to help them master more complex lessons. Parents often find it challenging to help solve mathematical problems or chemical formulae, however, if you are interested and regularly follow their progress, you will not be thrown off balance by the lessons your child struggles with.
Teachers are always there to help and suggest areas where your child needs to put in additional effort to succeed at school. All of this is an integral part of education, and if there is good cooperation and partnership between the child, teacher and parents, every challenge will be overcome in the best possible way.
Help kids learn how to learn
Success at school depends on how effectively a child learns. However, every student is a person unto themselves, with unique traits and idiosyncrasies. Some children are visual types, while others learn better by listening. This is why it is important that you, as a parent, find the learning style that suits them best. Some of the learning styles are:
- Verbal– learning things by writing, or listening to others (e.g. listening to lectures)
- Visual – learning through pictures, graphs, drawings, and through observation
- Kinesthetic – tactile learning through touch, physical activity, drawing, etc.
- Aural – focus on sound, music and rhythm
- Solitary – some children prefer learning on their own, at their own pace. If your child is one of them, your role is to provide them with the best possible learning conditions, monitoring their progress from time to time.
- Social – if a child possesses developed communication skills, then they will achieve the best results in a team (group), or by working together with their parent or classmate.
- Logical – knowledge acquisition through logical reasoning, linking information and detailed planning.
It should be noted that learning techniques are not mutually exclusive, so you will often find yourself guiding your child toward a different style, depending on their current needs and school challenges.
Talk with your child about school
For the child, school is the center of the world outside of their family. Problems at school often have nothing to do with learning, but arise as the result of conflict between students. If you build a relationship of trust, your child will tell you everything that bothers them, so the problems will be easier to solve. Of course, children will not tell you everything, but what they do tell you is valuable information. It is very important not to abuse that trust, because once lost, it is almost impossible to rebuild.
Grades are not the measure of success at school
Grades are not the measure of the child’s success at school. On the contrary, chasing after good grades puts pressure on children who only focus on the end result, turning to rote learning, and even cheating. You should never create additional pressure by telling them that only good grades are acceptable, because success at school should be measured by the amount of hard work and dedication to knowledge acquisition.
Every parent wants a successful child, and that means a child who always works hard and tries their best, regardless of whether the final grade will be A, B or C. Encourage your child to tackle all challenges they come across on their own, and you will always be there to help them get a quality education, which will bring you even closer.