Parents are always on the lookout for suggestions about how they can help their children be successful students, and do well in school. Over the years, the State Teachers of the Year, who are America’s top teachers in each state, have shared insights about how parents can help their children. Below is a list of their top 10 recommendations:
1. Make a lunch date with each of your children individually. (Note: be sure to check in advance with the school to see if parents are allowed to visit during the lunch hour and whether or not there is room for visitors in cafeteria.) By having lunch with your children individually, you can have some important one-on-one time with each one during the day, and meet some of their friends and school staff members during their school day.
2. Ask about your children’s day at school. Look for clues about conflicts with teachers or other students, and help them think of positive solutions to the challenges they experience. However, there may be times when the problems are beyond the scope of your children’s ability to solve them, and you may have to get involved to find a resolution.
3. Check to be sure your children bring home their homework and get it done every night. Having a regular place and time to complete homework, as well as a homework routine helps children do their part.
4. Send a note, email or call your child's teacher with questions, concerns or victories to celebrate.
5. Make sure your children eat well and get rest at night so that they can be at their best mentally during the day. Research has shown that those children who have an adequate amount of sleep at night and eat a good breakfast are more mentally alert, and learn better in school than students who do not.
6. Model the importance of learning. When your children need to read, turn off the television, and read with or alongside them. If your children need your help with school projects, give them the support they need to complete them successfully even if you’re inconvenienced by their requests.
7. Engage in family enrichment activities such as trips to local or state historical sites, museums or even college campuses. Such experiences help encourage your children's desire to learn and broaden their exposure to learning opportunities outside the classroom.
8. Help your child practice new skills. If they are learning fractions, prepare only one-half of a recipe and have your child figure what the correct amount of ingredients should be.
9. Model respect for teachers, and show support for teachers and education in general. If you show support for teachers and discuss the importance of education with your children frequently, they will develop a positive attitude toward school.
10. Maintain open communication between parents and teachers throughout the school year. By having open communication between parents and teachers, a problem can be resolved as soon as they arise.
Many of these recommendations are simple, very easy to implement, well known by many parents, and have been proven effective through years of research. The biggest obstacle to their implementation is parents’ time.
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.E., MA, is a teacher with 31 years of professional experience. You can write to her at email@example.com with your questions or comments.