Some research suggests that students with involved, supportive parents have a higher degree of academic success than students whose parents are involved less. However, other investigations find a negative correlation: parent involvement can hinder the child's success. The key, I believe, is the type of support that the parent offers. For this reason, I have put together this post discussing the positive, helpful, favorable kinds of attention that a parent can offer a child.
Provide Blocks Of Time For Focused Work
Help your child tackle homework assignments by creating a calm home environment. This might mean turning off the television, saying no to a visit from a relative, or cutting back on family activities when large assignments are due. Your child might not want to ask you to change the family schedule. They may not even be aware that a change is necessary. As the adult in the situation, you can see the big picture for your child. Help them find the time to complete assignments. Your child might be tempted to squeeze work in between other events, like during car rides or on commercial breaks. Discourage interruption-filled study sessions. Instead, give your student the time and the space that they need to have focused study sessions.
When you ask your child questions about class, you encourage them to process what they learned. Middle and high school students often take notes in class, but never fully process the information (http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2013/09/learning-secrets.aspx). Processing is key to information retention. Ask questions that encourage your student to summarize information and then think critically about it.
Help Your Child Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprived children may have trouble focusing in class. Prioritize your child's mental state (http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory). If you have to make travel plans, arrange them so that you arrive home at a decent hour so that your student can unwind and then get eight to ten hours of sleep. Sometimes it can seem hard to prioritize sleep, especially if something urgent like a family emergency or work situation arises. Think creatively. Is there another capable adult who might be able to stay with your child while you tend to the urgent, late-night situation? The less late-nights you allow, the more rested and alert your child will be.
Give Positive Feedback
When your child works hard and receives a good grade or score, show your excitement. You can give them a compliment, display affection, or offer a reward such as an activity or special treat. The specific type of reward that you offer does not matter as much as the fact that you are giving a reward for good behavior.
Share Personal Challenges
Don't be afraid to share a failure in your own life with a child who is struggling. If you failed algebra twice, but then passed the third time, share your story! How did you manage to pass? What did you learn from the experience? Something in your story might inspire your child to overcome a challenge in school that they are facing. We all have strengths and weaknesses. It is just as important to know how to nurture our strengths as it is to know how to overcome the weaknesses.
By asking the right questions, sharing stories from your past, and giving positive feedback, you can support your child's learning.
Academics will challenge some aspect of your child's skill set. Help them overcome the challenge with flying colors. Parent involvement is a key factor in a child's academic success. The type of involvement that you offer is going to affect your child's studies. By asking the right questions, sharing stories from your past, and giving positive feedback, you can support your child's learning. Other aspects of your involvement, like setting up a calm home environment and encouraging sleep, will benefit your student as well.
Scott Groza is the co-founder of the Groza Learning Center, along with his wife, Christy. An educator for many years, Groza is passionate about helping students thrive through unique learning plans and customized tutoring and test prep programs. He began working through the Groza Learning Center in 2002.
Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA