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12 Tips to Help Your Child to Succeed in School

Parents can play a very important role in helping their children to succeed in school. Here are some home support strategies to help your children develop the skills critical to academic success.

Have realistic expectations.
It is always good to help your children to establish goals, but those goals must also be achievable within their capabilities. Understand what your child is capable of achieving and set goals based on what is appropriate for that child.

Keep to a daily routine.
Daily routine can be both comforting and reassuring for children. Set the same time for homework each day and stick to it. The time you set will depend on the nature of your children and their schedule. Some children are best to do homework right after school to get it over with and have play time to follow, particularly if they tire easily after suppertime. However, some children will need a break when they get home, and need to refuel before tackling the books. Talk to your child and negotiate a homework time that you both think is best.

Allow time for play.
While parents often have the best intentions providing their children with a variety of after school activities, too many activities lead to over-structured and over-stressed children. It’s best to limit after-school activities to one thing and allow your children to have down-time just to “hang out.”

Establish clear boundaries.
Set limits on time spent playing video games, watching television, internet use and social media. A good guideline is one hour of electronics time that isn’t related to school. Computers and televisions are best placed in family areas, not in bedrooms. This allows you not only to monitor the amount of time spent on these activities, but the content as well. Be consistent with the rules and ensure that they are respected on an ongoing basis.

Find a balance.
Children who succeed in school are often well-rounded and have a variety of interests. Parents can help children by exposing them to different areas of interest without, of course, overloading their schedules. They may play a sport through the school year and then try a music camp in the summer.

Measure the amount of homework.
School Board guidelines for homework are 10 minutes/grade. If your child is spending more time than this on homework, explore the reasons. Is your child struggling with the subject, having problems focusing or struggling socially? Talk to the teacher about your concerns and seek their advice. If your child is struggling with the material, consider a tutor. Contact your local University’s Student Services or the guidance counsellors at your local high school. There are also many websites dedicated to helping students.

Help your child deal with disappointment.
When marks come back and your child is disappointed with the mark, sit down and talk about what happened. Ask first if this is the mark that he expected to get? Was he prepared? If not, talk about what he could have done differently to prepare? If he felt prepared, look at the paper together and explore what he could have done differently to get a better mark. You can also discuss the subjective nature of marking and how different teachers will have different approaches, expectations and methods of marking. Encourage your child to talk to the teacher about what he needs to do next time to achieve a better mark.

Visualize the role of student as a job.
Children have to learn that life isn’t all play; that sometimes, it’s work. School work, like any work, can be difficult and not a lot of fun, but it still needs to be done. Encourage your children to see their homework as part of their job. You can help your children find a balance between work and play also by setting an example in your approach to work and free time and by demonstrating good work habits – promptness, attention to detail, enthusiasm.

Be reasonable when establishing household chores.
It’s good for children to have household responsibilities and to feel like they are valuable, contributing members of the family. However, childhood chores should be manageable and appropriate to the child’s developmental abilities. Clearing the table after dinner and taking out the garbage are reasonable expectations, but don’t expect your twelve-year-old to clean the bathroom.

Take an interest in what your children are doing.
Even if you no longer remember the science terminology or the math is beyond your comprehension, ask your child to explain what they are doing in school to you. Children love to share things with their parents, particularly if they think that they have something to tell you that you don’t already know. Just taking an interest in what they are doing will encourage them and is rewarding in itself.

Have dinner as a family.
Try to sit down to a family dinner each night with all electronics turned off. This provides a daily opportunity for family discussion and allows you to stay informed and shows your children that you are interested in them and are available for ongoing support.

Be involved and get to know the school.
Communicate with your child’s teacher. For younger children who are struggling in school, a communication book between teacher and parent can be a useful tool. Volunteer as appropriate. This also provides you with the opportunity to get to know your child’s friends and other parents. Try to attend parent/teacher nights, open houses, concerts, performances or games.