Susan C. Stone's Practical Parenting Blog dotcom

Helping Your Child Succeed in School

Posted on: August 29, 2019

With the new school year beginning, all parents are hoping this will be a great year! They’re hoping that their child will enjoy learning, grow in their skills and have positive social experiences. How can you help make that happen? There are lots of contributions you can make and none of them include doing your child’s homework!

First, you can help ensure success by creating a beneficial home environment. This means showing that you value the educational experience not just for grades, but for the ways lessons can be applied to your daily life. It also means having both schedules and routines. Making sure your child has sufficient sleep is very important for learning. Bedtime and wake up time should be set including a bedtime routine and an environment conducive to sleep. Take advantage of the start of the new year to establish homework routines (time and place) and a fixed and strategic place for backpacks full of homework to be taken to school the next day.

Another aspect of a beneficial home environment is setting limits and boundaries with predictable outcomes that you enforce. Respect for adult decisions begins at home and benefits children in the school setting. Finally, be aware of the emotional tone of your household. Try to limit disharmony and stress caused by parenting issues, schedules, responsibilities and siblings. Make sure to establish a morning routine that provides a calm start to your child’s day. And arrive on time or early! Children can have a bad start to their day when they need to join an ongoing classroom activity – they will have missed the directions and… everyone turns to look at them!

Another way to help your child succeed in school is to help self esteem and confidence to develop. One important way to do this is to set realistic expectations for each of your children, neither too high or too low so they can experience success. Take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each child. Don’t expect perfection and emphasize “best efforts” and “personal bests”.

Encourage competency by not doing for children what they can do for themselves – including homework! Be available only as a resource. Children need to learn how to problem solve, how to prevail through perserverance and how to survive and recover from failures.

At the beginning of the year, promote good work habits. Decide where and when homework will be done. Teach the logical sequencing of a task. Teach “task reduction”, time management list making and use of a calendar for planning.

Hopefully, with homework under control, children will have some FREE TIME! Scheduled activities can be overdone. Free, unstructured time WITHOUT SCREENS allow children to hone their imagination, initiative and creativity and learn to rely on their internal resources – all important for school success.

Social skills are another important ingredient for school success. Children who lack these skills tend to be preoccupied with social isolation or become victims of teasing and bullying. Help your child learn to read both the verbal and nonverbal cues from others and to respond appropriately. Teach empathy, compromise, negotiation and inclusion, rather than hostile competitiveness, bragging, bossiness and aggression. Make sure your child has experience with taking turns and conversational skills. Provide playdates with classmates to encourage connections.

Finally, build a strong alliance with the school and the teachers. Be as involved as time allows. Make sure that you communicate to the teachers any changes at home that will effect your child’s classroom performance as well as any struggles with schoolwork. And, please, be open to and welcome any feedback about your child that the school provides. Potential problems can be averted or corrected by working jointly with the school on such issues.


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