By Rick Cruikshank

Your child will spend 13 years in school learning academic skills and guiding principles she will need to be successful. Your parental support, combined with her teachers’, will help your child gain the confidence and self-esteem she needs to reach her full potential.

As a parent, there are few responsibilities greater than supporting your child’s success in school. In fact, many studies have linked student academic performance to parental support; this is what shapes and determines her sense of purpose and attitude toward school and life.

As a parent of three boys, and with extensive experience as a middle school science teacher, I have developed an opinion that doing well in school is mostly about daily effort, attitude, and parental support. As a teacher, I have a front row seat to see how essential these elements are toward encouraging a child to work hard and practice persistence. It is my hope that you will gain some good ideas and inspiration from the following nine tips to support your child’s success in school.

Tips for school success

  1. Effort counts. Remember that you do not need to understand how to do an assignment to support your child with homework. Your role is to make sure your child is putting forth a strong effort every day. This will help her develop the strong work ethic and persistence she needs to become a confident, self-motivated, and independent learner.
  2. Daily routine matters. Develop a daily homework routine that works for your child’s schedule. It is also a good idea to allow your child to have a snack and relaxing break right after school before she works on her homework.
  3. A homework area is important. Establish an area to do homework that will allow your child to focus and have easy access to common school supplies.
  4. Cut out distractions. Once your child starts her homework, it is important that a parent is available to monitor and help with homework. In order to minimize distractions, establish a rule that television, social media, music, and phones are turned off during homework time.
  5. Coach on persistence. Monitor your child’s homework folder and homework assignment planner each evening to determine which assignments she finished and which ones she struggled with. Coach her on the importance of patience, focus, and not giving up as she works through solving problems and completing her assignments each day.
  6. Guide her when she gets stuck. You also need to let your child know that if she is stuck on a problem, it is ok to skip that problem and ask her teacher for help the next day. Your child needs to know that her teacher is there to support her with the content skills that you may not know.
  7. Teach how to learn. Explain to your child that her teacher is an ally and wants her to do well in school. Remind your child how essential it is to ask questions during class so the teacher has a chance to reteach any concept she may not understand.
  8. Ask for help. Teaching your child to ask for help when she needs it is important for her to build her confidence and maturity. This is an essential step as she moves toward being a self- motivated and independent student who takes responsibility for her own learning.
  9. Use the time to connect. Homework time is an excellent opportunity to connect with your child and have conversations about what classes she likes and what struggles she may be having. As you listen to your child and learn about her world at school, this gives you the quality time with her that will deepen your connection and relationship.

Hopefully, you have found some useful tips and ideas to guide and inspire you as you encourage your child’s success throughout the school year. Through your support each day, your child will develop the guiding principles, positive attitude, academic skills, confidence, and self-motivation she needs to be successful in school and life.

Rick Cruikshank, of Lancaster, MA, is a parent of three boys and is a middle school science teacher in Milford, MA.

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