School Success Begins at Home

family_schoolsuccessNo matter how good the schools are and how skilled and devoted the teachers are, they do not have the impact on learning, as does the home environment. Parents, you make the difference! Your everyday activities, discussions about school, and positive attitude about learning set the stage for your child’s success. You can impress your child with permanent motivation about school and learning! “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life,” declared Plato.

All parents agree that education benefits their child. Skillful parents also recognize that education creates a better community in which children live. Victor Hugo observed, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

Use your powerful influence to help your child look forward to and enjoy school.

Regardless of your economic, racial, educational or cultural environment you have the power to give your child a key to academic success. To see if you’re on the right track, take the back-to-school quiz.

Motivated for school quiz

Give yourself five points for usually doing these, two points for occasionally, and zero points for these you never do.

_____1. I share happy memories or good stories of my school experiences.

_____2. I make positive statements about school and opportunity to learn.
_____3. I attend Open House and parent/teacher meetings with an open mind and team spirit between the teacher and myself. When parents and teachers team up, good things happen.
_____4. I encourage my child to listen to and respect teachers. Prizewinning TV news anchor Diane Sawyer reveals, “I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.”
_____5. We have school supplies purchased and identified with my child’s name.
_____6. “School” bedtimes and morning routines are faithfully observed.

How did you score?

Above 25 means you’re doing your best to help your child be an eager learner. Give yourself a pat on the back! A score of 18-25 is average. Below 18 suggests there are more ways to help your child see the value of school and learning. And it’s never too late to make a difference! Here are more easy, yet profound, tips to make your home a place that nurtures young minds.

  • Shop together for school supplies and, whenever possible, accept your child’s opinion on necessary materials. Research shows that when children participate in a decision they are more invested in the outcome. When you and your child spend time together picking out necessities the message your child receives is that preparation is important.
  • Establish “school” bedtimes and morning routines. A well-rested child is less distracted, more able to focus on schoolwork, is in a better mood, and enjoys a better immune system. In a sense, sleep is a habit. Build a healthy habit of going to bed at the same time every evening. According to Richard Ferber, M.D., author of the book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problem, elementary age kids need nine to ten hours of nighttime sleep for optimal performance. Young children need even more hours. Morning routines ease stress by starting the day in a comfortably predictable way. When kids are relaxed they cope more with the rigors of a school day.
  • Make breakfast matter. In a Harvard /Kellogg School Breakfast program study published in 1998, kids who ate a morning meal earned higher math grades than those who skipped breakfast. Teachers and parents in this study reported that frequency of hyperactivity and tardiness also dropped among breakfast eaters.
  • Go to the school’s Open House and Parent/Teacher meetings. It’s during these times that you can view your child’s work and school exhibits and, most important, have a say in your child’s learning goals. Also, teachers often draw an opinion about parents based on their at-school participation.
  • Make encouraging statements to your child like: “You are making progress.” “I’m glad you listen to your teacher.” “You really stuck with your homework.” Words sink deep into a child’s heart and what parents say is often prophetic.
  • Plan constructive use of after-school time. Children do need downtime to relax after school; however, research indicates that children who watch TV more than 10 hours per week are at greater risk of school failure. The humorist Groucho Marx quipped, “I find TV very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.”
  • Get your child’s hearing checked. Hearing loss is common in kids and often goes undiagnosed. If your child cannot hear completely, it is difficult for him to get classroom instructions or learn pronunciations.
  • Pray with and for your child. The power of a praying mom or dad sends a child off to school with greater confidence in himself and the One who watches over us all.

In this brief season of nurturing your child’s desire and ability to learn remember Benjamin Franklin’s counsel, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Written by Brenda Nixon

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