Parental relationships go a long way toward fostering academic success, but not nearly as much as when parents communicate educational expectations and prioritize academics themselves (see Part 1). Including school work in the schedule and providing study spaces for your kids can go a long way toward communicating your support and the priority you place on hard work and education, in general.
At the same time, though, there is no replacement for the kind of help and support you can offer by your presence and direct involvement in your child’s education.
Daily Support for High Achievers
How much help and support does your child need? How much should you offer? Those are difficult questions and will depend largely on your child’s school, academic aptitudes, and personality. Even the most self-motivated, independent learner can benefit from having someone quiz her before an upcoming test or quiz, and simply asking about what she is learning — even possibly teaching you something you don’t understand or had forgotten — can help your child cement the concepts for herself.
When your child is enthusiastic about something that does not genuinely interest you, it’s still important to listen as an extension of your love and support for your child. Of course, asking about the outcome of a specific project or test communicates support, as well. For high achievers who can become frustrated about a single percentage point, parents can use the opportunity to curb perfectionist tendencies and encourage a productive focus instead of focusing on resentments.
Daily Support for Low Achievers
When you look over your child’s homework and see errors, it’s important not to simply tell him the answer or communicate frustration. Instead, you can begin by pointing out correct answers or well-written areas and asking your child how he arrived at them, then try pointing out the mistake and asking if your child realizes what he should have done, instead. Perhaps he is simply rushing in order to have time to call a friend before bedtime or is distracted by events of the day.
If your child is consistently struggling, the material may be above his or her ability, or the classroom communication may be missing the mark. By providing your child with study support, you’ll know when intervention may be needed sooner, rather than later, eliminating the potential for shock over a poor report card.
Parental Support at School
While daily support cannot be overemphasized, the occasional parental presence in the classroom and involvement in school activities and events goes a long way toward encouraging student success. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that the kinds of parents who tend to get involved are the ones already demonstrating the fact that education is important and doing all they can to encourage academic success at home.
Whatever the relationship, the correlation between parental school involvement and academic success of children is pretty clear, so next time a teacher asks for a parent volunteer, realize that you’re not just helping the teacher, you’re helping your child, too.
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