There is no magic bullet to ensure that your child will be an excellent student who never experiences problems or challenges. However, there are a few things you can do to help your child stay focused and work more efficiently, thereby setting him or her up for success during homework time and in the classroom:
Establish routines and rules. Clear procedures create a home environment conducive to maximum learning, eliminating wasted time and encouraging children to work more efficiently. On the other hand, lack of structure can result in a child feeling unorganized and overwhelmed. Just as your child’s teacher does in the classroom, establish and maintain clear routines for study time at home. Once you have established and communicated those rules, hold your child to them. The less time spent on getting settled into homework, organizing or finding one’s things, the more time can be spent on learning.
Read, read, read. Simply put, a child who is a capable, confident reader will find school to be easier overall. Reading is essential in every subject, and teachers will increasingly expect your child to offer opinions on and insight into the things he or she reads. Make books, literature and reading a frequent family activity. Incorporate reading into your daily lives, and encourage your child to read for fun, both aloud and independently.
Work on basic skills. If your child is struggling with basic concepts and this is causing problems in class and during homework, it may be time to investigate. Consider having your child assessed to get more details on what academic skills he or she may be lacking.
Encourage thinking. No matter what subject your child studies, critical thinking is an important skill that you can and should hone from an early age. Encourage your child to analyze, question and express opinions on books, articles, news and more. When reading stories, discuss the characters and main messages and have your child share his or her thoughts and ideas. Even with subjects like math and science, teach your child to think through problems and talk about the practical application of math and science concepts. The more your child develops such essential higher order thinking abilities, the more capable your child will be as a student.
Foster good study habits. Many children who are otherwise capable students are hampered by disorganization and poor study skills. Teach your child the basics, such as maintaining a neat workspace and backpack, embracing a system for tracking homework and projects (and their due dates), and making all study and homework sessions efficient. Ask for suggestions from your child’s teacher as well.
Finally, one of the most important things parents can do to benefit their children is talk about school. It sounds simple, and it is—but study after study proves the positive effects of parental involvement on students’ long-term educational outcomes. A small amount of effort today will help your child build a strong foundation for school and life success.