A child’s success in school does not just happen – there are steps that must be taken to motivate and encourage a child’s academic improvement. Ultimately, however, the child must put in the work required.
With schools starting all over the nation, parents tend to be seeking ways to help their children succeed in school. Here are some tips supplied by Deb Killion, which are based on her observations during her 15+ years in education as a teacher and counselor. She says, and I agree (based on my 40+ years in education), that if you practice these skills, you can help your child improve her chances of academic achievement, in spite of the way the raised standards place higher demands on students today.
Start these from day one:
Develop regular communication with teachers: One contact is not enough to establish meaningful communication between your child’s teacher and yourself. Instead, make a habit of communicating when necessary or call to make an appointment during the teacher’s non-instructional time to discuss how your child is doing. (In this age of technology, trading emails is a great way to stay in communication with your child’s teacher.)
Attend every Parent/Teacher conference: By attending all conferences, you increase the effectiveness of the meetings and will always have a voice in what is happening with your child. Further, teachers and administrators will view your involvement as a sign you are involved in the educational process with your child and you are taking an active role in his academic progress.
Keep copies of your child’s tests and report cards in a folder at home: By keeping important papers such as tests, projects and major assignments together, it will be easier to help your child review skills in her weaker areas. Additionally, if you ever need to challenge the school on an educational placement/decision, you have a place to start.
Encourage your child verbally and with rewards or incentives when he does well: Positive rewards often help kids remain excited about reaching higher goals. If certain rewards motivate your child, continue to use them when teachers send home improved grades. (Change rewards if necessary.)
Set reasonable goals for improvement and announce the expectations to your child: Don’t set your child up for failure by setting the goals too high. Instead, set realistic goals that will serve as good benchmarks to track her progress over time.
Consider a “pay-per-performance” allowance for good or improved grades: As in business where employers pay employees for commendable or better performance, you can do the same with your child regarding grades. As his performance improves, try increasing his allowance a bit (or let him earn something special) to determine if it yields positive results.
Set a schedule/time frame for completion of daily homework: The reason homework becomes such a problem in many homes is because kids tend to waste time once they get home from school. Consider giving your child a 30 – 45 minute break when she gets home and then direct her to get her homework done before dinnertime. Another way to control the amount of time involved is to set a timer for each separate homework task until each one has been completed. Consider rewarding with 5-10 minute breaks after the completion of each task.
Teach kids to set their own priorities: Children need to learn the importance of putting certain tasks before others while they are still young. By having them practice this with homework and chores, you reinforce important life skills which will follow him through life.
Work on specific skills with which your child struggles: Many standardized tests provide itemized reports on skills that need the most improvement. Focus on the specific skills more than general areas to encourage improvement.