Studies show that a child’s academic performance is linked to their home life and the amount of parental support. The students who perform best tend to have happy and stable homes and good communication with their parents
As parents, we all want our children to do well at school. But how can we help them? Studies show that a child’s academic performance is linked to their home life and the amount of parental support they get. The students who perform best tend to have happy and stable homes and good communication with their parents. This guide will give you advice which will help you to help your child succeed in school.
If you are feeling tired or under the weather then you can’t perform at your best. The same is true for children so, if you want your child to do well in school, then a healthy lifestyle will help. It pays to make sure your child gets enough sleep and exercise, and eats a healthy diet.
Choose a suitable bedtime – one which will give your child enough sleep. This varies between ages, from 11 to 9 hours (see NHS Choices). You should also provide healthy meals, particularly breakfast, as this fuels the brain for morning learning. Exercise is important too, so encourage your child to keep active.
Children thrive on regularity, so having a daily routine at home will help your child at school. Have a set time to get out of bed to avoid any last minute rush, leaving enough time for breakfast, washing and travel to school. It’s also a good idea to keep everything your child needs to take to school (bag, jacket, lunchbox, shoes etc.) in one place. That way, they’ll be no hunt for missing items – you’ll know exactly where everything is kept.
An evening routine will also help. If your child knows when dinner time, homework time and TV time are, it will be easier to persuade them to do their homework than it would if you left them to their own devices.
However you structure your routine, you’ll need to stick to it. If your child knows what to expect then they’ll soon go along with it as second nature.
Learning to read is the most important part of a child’s education. It opens the door to a whole world of information so, the earlier your child masters this skill, the better. With preschool and young children, try to read with them every day and encourage them to read aloud to you.
Older children will probably not want to read with you. However, it’s helpful if they do continue to read by themselves – even if it’s just for pleasure. The more we read, the better at it we get. Children who don’t read much often have poor comprehension skills. When they are reading, encourage your child to make sure they understand a paragraph of text before they move on to the next.
Many of us believe that it’s the job of schools to educate our children but there are plenty of learning opportunities at home. Look for ways in which you can teach your child – asking maths or spelling questions on long car journeys, for example.
For older children, you might want to stretch them with extra tuition or an online learning site. If neither of these are an option due to cost, then see if you can persuade your child to go the extra mile and complete exercises in their textbooks which haven’t been set by their teacher. The more work they do, the more they exercise their brains and the better they’ll perform at school.
Homework reinforces what children have learned at school. It also helps to teach children responsibility. So how can you help? Well, first of all, provide them with a suitable work area (a desk would be ideal) with access to any equipment they might need like paper, pens, rulers, computers etc. The area should be well lit and free from distractions, such as mobile phones. Most importantly, make sure that your child has peace and quiet in which to work.
A homework schedule is also a good idea. Set aside a certain time dedicated to homework and encourage your child to plan their work – for example, break down long-term projects into smaller chunks.
You can also offer your advice – though, be aware that learning methods have changed, so you might look at things differently to your child. If you don't know a subject well enough to help, then it’s enough to show you are interested. If necessary, you can ask others – the school may offer support or you could hire a personal tutor. Another student, a friend or a relative might also be able to help.
Communication plays a vital role in learning so talking to your child will help them at school. Children who don't communicate well often have problems with reading, difficulty following instructions and short attention spans.
Talk often with your child, even if it’s just chit-chat. This will help them learn to communicate well. When they are older you can talk about school – what they like and what they don’t, for example. Praise their achievements (and their efforts!) and make sure they know they can come to you with any worries or problems they may have.
Children learn how to behave from their parents so it’s important to set them a good example. If you have a negative attitude to education then don’t be surprised if your child does too! Thankfully, there are a few ways you can make your child more likely to value their education.
If you want them to read then let them see you reading often yourself. As a family, watch educational TV programmes, such as nature or science documentaries. Speak of the positive experiences you had at school and tell them the benefits of further education. If your child believes that education can be fun and rewarding then they will be more enthusiastic to learn.
As children grow, they have to learn to make their own decisions, and this applies at school as well as at home. You want your child to be able to look after themselves, so how can you teach them responsibility? Give them tasks such as making their bed, or taking the rubbish out. Though small, these will benefit your child in the long run.
When children have responsibilities at home, it helps them take responsibility for their own learning. If they fail to complete their homework, for example, then they’ll have to face the consequences. When a child knows that it’s up to them to get things done, then it’s a step towards becoming self-reliant - and this will help them at home, at school and in their future career.
End of term holidays and weekends mean a break from school, but that needn’t mean a break from learning. As well as making sure that homework is done, there are other ways to continue your child’s education when they are not at school. Family days out could be to museums or historic buildings, rather than to theme parks for example.
The holidays are also an opportunity for revision of schoolwork and for expanding the mind. How about encouraging your child to learn a new skill, like chess or backgammon? Both of these stimulate the brain, as do word games like scrabble or crosswords.
One of the best ways to support your child at school is through expectation. This doesn’t mean you expect them to be top of the class, the star of the sports team or even a prefect – over expectation can cause children undue stress. What it does mean is that your child should know that you expect them to try their best in everything they do.
If you expect your child to fail at school, then they probably will. Let them know that hard work, even if it doesn’t get the best grade, is still something to be proud of. The right attitude, together with a supportive home life, will help your child to be the very best they can.
If you’d like to know more, then you’ll find answers to your education questions in the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank. We have a library of articles aimed at finding answers to the questions asked by parents. As well as covering all aspects of education, from the Early Years Foundation Stage all the way up to university, it also has tonnes of information and advice on parenting issues, such as promoting self-confidence in children and protection from online dangers. It’s well worth a visit!