10 Tips for School Success

Success in school doesn’t happen without parental support. Whether your son happily skips off to kindergarten or your daughter trudges down the hall to seventh-grade science class, your child needs your help to succeed in school. Author Robert E. Weyhmuller, Jr. offers tips.

Here are a few of them:

Read to your child every day.
It sounds like such a simple thing. But will reading to your child every day really help her succeed in school? The answer is emphatically, YES!

It’s a fact. There’s no better way to instill a love for reading in your child than by reading aloud to her. Children who are read to fall in love with books. They also develop good reading abilities earlier, become better listeners, and develop a stronger command of written language. But reading to your child every day does more than just feed the mind. It gives you and your child something special—it gives you together time.

Establish a homework routine. 
Decide with your child on a time each night to do homework and stick to it. Kids like knowing when things will happen, rather than being caught off guard. If you suddenly call your child in from his outside play to start homework, chances are you will meet more resistance than the allied forces on D-day. But if you establish a routine, such as homework begins at 5:00 p.m., arguments will be greatly reduced.

Make a pact with your child’s teacher: ‘If you don’t believe everything my child says about me, I won’t believe everything he says about you.’ 
Children exaggerate. They don’t necessarily lie, but their perceptions may be skewed. Whether your child describes his teacher as the Wicked Witch of the West or Mary Poppins, keep in mind that all may not be as he perceives.

Always be your child’s advocate, but never become the teacher’s adversary.
If you feel your child has been wronged, defend her. Call the teacher, have a conference, work things out the best you can, but don’t make the teacher the enemy. When parents and teachers are openly hostile toward each other, the child almost always becomes the loser.

Be your child’s Show ‘n Tell. 
What better way is there for your child to show how proud she is of Mom or Dad? What better way is there for your child’s teacher to get to know you? What better way is there for you to get to meet your child’s schoolmates?

Make your child a better thinker by asking ‘Why’ 
Remember when your child drove you crazy by asking ‘Why?’ Now you can make her a better thinker by asking the same question. ‘Why is there a stop sign on that corner?’ ‘Why is it wrong to cheat?’ ‘Why aren’t you allowed to stay out past midnight?’

Honor your child’s opinions. 
Provide your child with a safe environment where he can express opinions without fear of reprisal. Encourage him to respectfully express his opinions in school, too. Do your hackles rise when your child expresses an opinion contrary to yours? ‘I think it’s silly that we go to Grandpop’s every Sunday. I’d rather stay home and play with my friends.’ Instead of blasting him with a guilt trip, try acknowledging his feelings: ‘I understand. Sometimes I’d rather play tennis, but your grandfather looks forward to our visit.’ Your child’s independent thinking will blossom when he is permitted to express his opinions without retaliation.

Ask your child to teach you something she learned in school today. 
People remember 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, 50 percent of what they see and hear, 70 percent of what they say as they talk aloud and 90 percent of what they say as they perform a task. Teaching is talking and performing. When your child teaches you a concept introduced in school, she has mastered it.

Send your child’s teacher a birthday card. 
Teachers are generous people. Throughout the school year, they spend countless hours decorating classrooms, arranging special events and volunteering their time to help others—not to mention digging into their own pockets to supplement school supplies and activities. Sending a birthday greeting shows that you and your child appreciate the little things she does to make school enjoyable.

Let your teenager balance your checkbook. 
Your child will gain a better understanding of economics by balancing the family checkbook. He might also learn not to ask, ‘Why can’t we afford a new…?’

About The Author
Reprinted with permission from Beyond the Bus Stop: 180 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in School, by Robert E. Weyhmuller, Jr. (Heinemann, August 1999. ISBN 0-325-00125-1) Available at local bookstores, on the Internet at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com or directly from the publisher at (800) 793-2154.

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