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How kids can succeed in school

Parental involvement is key to a child's success in school.

Dear LA Teacher,

Why is it that Chinese students in my son’s high school perform better than their peers? And what can the rest of us do about it?

Anglo Parent

Dear Anglo Parent,

Confucian values of education and family loyalty are an important cultural factor in explaining why Chinese students, even if they are from low income families, do better in school than students from other cultural backgrounds.

Children from Indian, Jewish, Cuban, Nigerian, and Iranian homes are also doing better academically than their Anglo or Hispanic counterparts. Why is that?

According to The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, the aforementioned groups’ children are successful in school because of a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control.

Cultural values are not the entire answer. Chua and Rubenfeld equate a good culture with a thrust towards wealth. According to the February 3, 2014 Time Magazine article, “The Superiority Complex” Chua and Rubenfeld define success after the Oliver Wendell Homes Sr. model, “The gaining of money and position.” They neglect to take into consideration cultural traits like kindness and community and public service.

If parents want their children to succeed academically they need to teach their children the importance of an education on a daily basis. From the time the child is born until she graduates from high school education must be established as a priority no matter what cultural background a family claims as its roots.

So here’s the game plan for success in school.
1. From birth through elementary school, read a story to your child before bedtime every night. You’ll be teaching the love of books. You can stop when junior decides to read a book on his own.
2. Open a savings account for the college fund after you sign the birth certificate. (Talk to your banker.)
3. When your child comes home from school check her homework. If she continuously says, “I don’t have homework,” discretely check with her teacher. If she struggles with a particular subject, explain it to her or hire a tutor.
4. Attend every open house and back to school night or other school function. If you have something else on your calendar for that date, cancel it. School takes top priority.
5. When your child is in high school, talk up college and visit a few college web sites together. During the summer of his junior year, take a trip together campus hopping.

Yes, culture is an important part of a child succeeding in school, but a family embracing the values of education is tantamount to a child’s success in school. It’s Mom and Dad spending time with their children while showing their kids the importance of a good education. Living these values are what really counts, no matter their cultural or socio-economic background.

Best wishes,
LA Teacher

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