Helping your Child Succeed at School


Are you looking for some practical tips on how to help your children succeed at school? Whether it’s how to help them with their homework (without helping them too much) or how to become involved with their school, many moms aren’t sure the best approach to being an active, helpful participant in their children’s education.

In the book, 1001 More Things to Do with Your Kids, Caryl Waller Krueger suggests several basic ideas that you can incorporate into your children’s habits to help them succeed at school. However, she begins by providing a few don’ts:

Mothering Don’ts

  • Don’t do your children’s homework for them, even if it is difficult for them or they won’t have enough time to finish it on their own.
  • Don’t automatically side with your children against the teacher before hearing both sides of the story.
  • Don’t overwhelm your children with extra-curricular activities.
  • Don’t force your children into areas of study or careers that are essentially your own unfulfilled dreams or expectations.

Mothering Do’s

Krueger encourages moms to pay attention to their children’s education and to help them become truly educated, as opposed to having just “sat through” years of schooling. She provides the following tips for you to help your children succeed:

  • Toddlers: Begin teaching the basics of what is important. Your response to your child’s actions will enforce what matters, whether it is that a sharp object should not be touched and the importance of the “no” given, or it is a lesson in patience when a demand from the child is not given automatically.
  • Preschoolers: Preschoolers are capable of learning some steps of independence. Begin teaching basic table manners, how to dress himself, and even some basic academic lessons such as colors and numbers.
  • School Children: Make sure your young student is capable of handling lunch money, knows his name and his parents’ names, knows how to get to and from school (i.e. where to walk, where to wait for the bus), and even how to sit quietly and listen.
  • Provide a place of study in the home, and if possible a home computer and research tools (i.e. dictionary, encyclopedia software).
  • Ask your children what their homework is each day, help them check their work (but not correct it for them), provide a snack at “half-time,” talk about academic subjects (i.e. favorite authors), and share successes with the family.
  • Encourage the love of reading in your children. Begin by reading to your infants, reading bedtime stories, having books on hand for long car rides or waits, and even by checking out books on tape from the library for the car.
  • Develop reasoning skills and opinion writing by giving your children a practice exercise. Have the children write out their requests for something (i.e. a later bedtime), including the facts, reasons and counter-arguments. You might even consider fulfilling the request if it is reasonable and well-presented.
  • Help your students choose the right classes by having them ask themselves what they will learn, how they can use the lessons and whether or not it will challenge them.
  • Help your children set realistic goals for the school year, and even challenge them to raise their standards later in the year.
  • Teach your children how to ask the right questions by playing games such as Twenty Questions.
  • Teach your children research skills by explaining how to use a dictionary, thesaurus and the local library. There are also many online homework-help websites designed for children.
  • Standardized test days are not only important in a child’s education, but can be very stressful as well. You can help make it easier by calming their nerves the night before testing. Serve their dinner of choice, cancel their chores for the night and make sure they are in bed early. The morning of, children need to have a healthy breakfast (preferably of their choosing).
  • Research has indicated that children should attempt their hardest homework first while their minds are still fresh. Krueger suggests the following order: math, writing, nonfiction reading, science projects, fiction reading. She suggests then dividing the homework time into 20 or 30 minute segments, with breaks in between.
  • Some moms find that setting up a sliding pay scale for A – C grades works well. On top of that, Krueger suggests additional bonuses for improved grades, payment deductions for falling grades, and bonuses for any good character marks (if applicable).
  • Encourage counting and math skills by playing math games or dominos.
  • For school projects, make sure your children are on-task early, instead of waiting until the last minute. Create a calendar and help your children assign themselves mini-deadlines for certain components of the project (i.e. research, first draft) and encourage the children to work on the project a little bit each day.

This article is based on the book, 1001 More Things to Do with Your Kids, by Caryl Waller Krueger.

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