STUDENT SUCCESS: HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD SUCCEED IN SCHOOL
As parents we’re empathetic when we see our children struggling with homework and/or receiving failing grades at school. Especially when we’ve taken the time to carefully go over assignments with our child and continue to provide one-on-one parent tutoring support. Your child may cry, throw up their hands in despair, and feel completely helpless and dejected. Lack of student success is a very frustrating and stressful situation for everyone. But as a parent there are concrete things that you can do to effectively help your child achieve student success in the classroom. This parent’s guide to student success was written just for you!
HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD SUCCEED IN SCHOOL
For increased student success, the first order of business is to make an appointment with his teacher. Open the door to communication and share your concerns about struggles your child is experiencing. Together you will discuss and compare behavior patterns, difficulties and successes that occur at home and at school. A learning plan or strategy for student success will be developed that can be further honed and restructured with time.
As you prepare to meet with your child’s teacher, it’s important to carefully consider each of the following factors (see below) for student success. In a notebook, write down your honest evaluation as it relates to your child, and bring these notes to the parent/teacher meeting.
ORGANIZATION: Does your child have the skills to be organized? Is his desk and/or backpack cluttered? Are homework assignments and notices from school being repeatedly lost? Does he make good use of a homework planner? Organization is a vital tool for student success.
TIME MANAGEMENT: How are your child’s time management skills at home? For optimum student success there should be a set routine for reading and completing assignments, as well as a designated space within the home that is quiet and without distractions. Homework should be completed within a reasonable time. Ask the teacher how long it should take for homework assignments to be completed.
STUDY SKILLS: Does he know how to prioritize his homework? Does he know how to independently gather and organize the materials needed to complete assignments? Does he effectively take notes at school? Does he know how to best study for tests? Rather than spreading things out over the course of a week, does he instead cram for his tests the evening prior? Developing good study skills is crucial for student success now and in the future.
READING SKILLS: Does your child struggle with grade-level reading materials? Are you spending time each and every day listening to him read? How often do you read books together? Reading at grade level is a vital skill for student success.
LISTENING SKILLS: Does he have good listening skills? Does he have trouble keeping his attention focused on the task at hand? When your child listens to instructions this increases engagement and student success.
BOREDOM: Is your student bored at school? Lack of student success may occur when a child is not being challenged enough in his courses. Do you believe that your child is ready to tackle more difficult levels of course work? You may request that the school district provide a counselor to assess your child.
RESPONSIBILITY: Is your child responsible with following through on assigned tasks? Is your student putting in the time for reading, completing assignments and studying for tests? Are homework assignments being done in a rush because your child has waited until the very last minute to start on them? When a student does not complete homework on time or with careful thought, or does not make the effort to study, it’s very easy for him to fall behind. Once this happens it can be quite challenging to get caught up again. Lack of responsibility can be the culprit for lack of student success.
PEER PRESSURE: How are his social interactions with his peers? Building positive relationships with other students can have a positive impact on student success. Does he have good friends? Does he eat lunch alone? Is he being bullied by other students? Really take a look at this closely. Having good self-esteem is extremely important in these formative years.
MOTIVATION/EFFORT: When it comes to school and learning new things, how motivated is he? What motivates him to complete everyday tasks that are required? Is your child putting in the effort it takes to complete assignments?
GOAL MAKING: What are his personal goals? Really focus in on what’s important to him. It’s vital to help your child shape new goals. They should be challenging yet attainable. Make both short-term and long-term goals. Together, discuss a clear step-by-step strategy on how to achieve them.
CRITICAL THINKING/PROBLEM SOLVING: Does your child possess a strong foundation of combined skills for critical and creative thinking, as well as logical and deductive reasoning? How does he specifically use these skills to move from a given set of circumstances to a desired end result?
In addition to fully analyzing the above factors and taking each into careful consideration, during the parent-teacher meeting discuss your child’s learning style. Is he a visual learner, an auditory learner, a hands-on learner, or a combination of all three? What type of classroom or test-taking accommodations can the teacher make that will better align with his learning style? What school district programs and resources are available to help students achieve? Is there an after-school homework club? Is there a pull-out program during the school day where children can work one-on-one with tutors?
Find out if there is a local high school that has a specialty program requiring its students to perform several hours of community service. If so, having a bright college-bound teen work with your child on reading, writing or math homework may have far-reaching benefits. He may be introduced to a mentor that is a fantastic role model for school achievement.
Set a date for the next follow-up meeting, and stay on top of things. Set expectations and goals with your child and help him follow the learning plan that was developed. If a tutor is needed and finances allow, interview prospective tutors and begin by scheduling one or more sessions each week. Move forward with confidence.
Personal tips for student success that worked well with both my daughters: Utilize summer to get a jump start on student success for the year ahead. Before the current school year is over, meet with a teacher in the next grade level and ask to look over the textbooks. Ask about additional reading (novels, etc.) that will be required the following year. Ask if you can check-out and borrow one or more textbooks over the summer, or write down the author and edition of the text books and look for them online. Purchase or borrow novels from the local library that your child will be expected to read the following year; increase student success by having your child read those books over the summer. If he is struggling with the content, then read these books together.
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Purchase fun workbooks at a teacher’s supply store that are one or two grade levels up and have those ready as exciting activities that they do each day. Load up the computer with educational games that encourage logical and creative thinking. Further student success by taking your child on a wide variety of educational field trips during the summer to spark his curiosity.
During the school year pick up the same novels that your child is reading and read them yourself. You are now poised to engage your child in conversation about those novels, and do some spur of the moment quizzing to make sure he is fully grasping the content.
Another important piece of the puzzle for helping your child with student success is to further educate yourself on the topic. Research books online that best describe your child: gifted, dyslexic, ADHD, learning disorders, behavior issues, etc. Read these books. Talk with other parents. Collect helpful resources for you and your child.
Infuse the school year with fun by volunteering to set up field trips, driving on field trips, planning fun parties for the classroom on holidays, and taking a leadership role in putting together great events at the school. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Make your home an open and inviting place for your children and all their friends.
As parents we are our children’s first and most important teachers. Once they reach school-age it’s important to keep a line of communication open with educators, and to listen to your children about what they are learning at school and if they are having any struggles. Drop by for a visit during school hours to observe what is happening in the classroom. Student success can be effectively achieved when parents, students and teachers all work together toward a common goal. By showing your children that you are firmly invested in their education, you are instilling a vitally important message. Let your children see and know that, along with them doing their own part as good students, you are willing to go to bat for them when needed to harness the tools necessary to help them succeed.
Remember: When it comes to student success, you are your child’s best advocate and role model!
If you have additional tips for student success, I’d love to hear from you! Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.
Denay is a former PTA president at both an elementary school and middle school. Her tips for student success are based on her own experiences as a parent as well as her previous involvement with parents, teachers and principals at the elementary, middle-school, and high-school levels.