A Parent’s Role in Student Success
Although school-age children spend a large part of their week in a classroom, student success depends less on what happens at school and more on parenting practices at home. In fact, teachers have found that one of the most effective ways to aid student success is to encourage parent involvement. When children have parents that support learning and take education seriously, they are often more motivated students and receive better grades. While teachers have the skills to educate a child, parents may still know how to relate to their child best.
Studies show that the single most influential factor in student success is how parents interact with their children at home with school only accounting for 20-30% of academic achievement. Clearly a home environment that invites learning can make all the difference. This does not mean simply helping your child with homework. Parents play a much larger role in student success. Let’s explore some of the ways you can have a positive impact on your child’s education.
Starting When They’re Young
Researchers find that parental engagement with young children has an effect on academic achievement in later years. The earlier a parent takes initiative to help their child learn, the more effective their efforts will be. The greatest amount of brain growth takes place between birth and age five with approximately 85% of the brain’s core structure being formed by age three, so the earliest year are extremely vital.
Children are constantly taking in new information about the world. While they are little, our interactions with them determine how they absorb and react to information. Are they taught to explore or told to sit still? Do they receive explanations or are encouraged to observe on their own? As a parent, you have an influence on the learning style your child develops. The learning approach a child develops at a young age will determine the skills he or she begins to enhance as a student.
These are some of the best practices to promote a healthy learning approach for young children:
- Read to your child as often as you can.
- Reading not only builds phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and story comprehension, but it also contributes to a young child’s emotional development. Studies also show that children who are read to have lower levels of hyperactivity and attention difficulties.
- According to a study at the University of Melbourne, reading to a 4-5 year old child 6-7 days per week can have the same effect on their reading and cognitive skills as being almost 12 months older. There are countless studies showing the myriad of benefits of reading to your child, so this is extremely crucial.
- While reading is important, the exposure to a larger number of words daily is one of the reasons it is so helpful, so don’t forget to talk to and around them as well!
- Share new experiences with your child.
- Researchers have found that exposing young children to new and varied experiences has a positive impact on their ability to learn. Being able to explore a new environment and see new things teaches children that learning can be fun and encourages a sense of curiosity.
- Interaction with them in general is good. The more you talk, play, and model for your children, the more they will be able to understand. Attention and encouragement instill a desire in children to take initiative.
- Start their day with a nutritious breakfast.
- Just like reading to children, there are a plethora of studies showing how important having a good breakfast is for children. A study of 5,000 kids (ages 9 to 11) by Cardiff University showed that children are twice as likely to score higher than average grades if they start the day with a healthy breakfast.
- A study of 5,000 kids (ages 9 to 11) by Cardiff University showed that children are twice as likely to score higher than average grades if they start the day with a healthy breakfast.
- A study from the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that kids who eat breakfast have an easier time tackling difficult math problems than kids who skip breakfast. The test subjects consisted of kids ages 8 to 11.
- This carries into teenage years as well. Researchers from the University of Missouri found that teens who sit down to eat breakfast with family have a more positive body image than those who don’t.
Being Present in Their Teens
As children are young, parents influence how they will learn by presenting them with opportunities to do so. As children get older, they need guidance from their parents in different ways. Studies suggest that teens who come from an emotionally supportive family that encourages learning, perform better in school. This means that student success among adolescents is affected greatly by home life and parent involvement.
Here are some tips for parents of teens to contribute to student success:
- Be available to talk.
- Parental involvement during the teen years is most effective when it stems from open communication. Being available to help your child establish goals and understand problems has a tremendous effect on his or her success.
- Positive communication is also extremely important. For example, “Why aren’t you doing your chores?” will put them on the defensive as opposed to “Do you have any ideas that can help you remember to do your chores?” (with some suggestions ready to go of course!).
- Give your child resources to succeed.
- There is a correlation between student success and a parent’s ability and willingness to assist with schoolwork. In addition to helping with homework, you can make sure your child has access to the library, internet, and other resources that can help with studying. If you feel their homework is over your head, consider getting them a tutor or helping them find resources online such as YouTube videos which can help walk them through the work.
- Be a part of your child’s life at school.
- Children spend a lot of time with their teachers and classmates. This community is a big part of their life. Researchers found that when parents made an effort to become a part of their child’s school community, the child achieved greater academic success.
Involvement at School
As mentioned above, becoming part of your child’s school community shows that you are taking an interest in their life and their education matters to you. Your child will feel respected and see that you acknowledge his or her very real responsibility as a student.
These are some ways to get involved in your child’s school life:
- Prioritize parent-teacher conferences.
- There has been a decline in parent-teacher communication over the last few years as parents gain access to online student portals and other digital tools. While many parents may be limited on time and see a parent-teacher conference as an added responsibility after a long day, it is important to make this a priority and set an example for your child no matter what age they are.
- Make attendance a big deal.
- Make an effort to send your child to school healthy and on time each day. Being tardy or missing too many days can have a drastic impact on student success. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is getting to school on time every day and making the most out of his or her education.
- Research shows that missing 10 percent of the school, or about 18 days in most school districts, negatively affects a student’s academic performance. That’s just two days a month and categorized as chronic absence.
- Be aware of homework assignments and expectations.
- It is one thing to tell your child to do their homework, but knowing what is expected of them gives you another level of involvement and understanding. A child is more likely to succeed in school when they have a parent on standby to discuss any setbacks or concerns regarding their education.
This may be one of the most important ways for a parent to encourage student success. As a parent, you know what is best for your child and most likely what they personally need to succeed. Some children may require more help and guidance than others. This means making sure they have limits that prevent them from missing their chance to succeed.
Here are some simple boundaries to set to ensure student success:
- Have a specified homework time.
- This will show your child that their homework is important. During homework time, you can make sure your child is removed from all distractions, including television and cell phones. This will ensure your child has the chance to study in a proper environment each day.
- Remember that taking a break every 45 minutes is a valuable way to help kids process and remember information.
- Get serious about consequences.
- If a child is not doing well in school, encourage him or her with incentives to apply himself or herself more. If your child needs to bring a grade up in a certain class, consider restricting the use of devices or time with friends until the grade is brought up.
- Set a bedtime.
- Being tired in school can stunt learning. Getting proper sleep is essential to student success. A bedtime alone will be helpful, but it is also best to limit the use of technology before bed. Screens are stimulating for our brains. They can make falling asleep difficult when used to close to bed and lessen the quality of sleep.
- Many studies have shown that there is a correlation between amount of sleep and grades. A recent study in the US found that students who averaged 8.1 hours of sleep a night scored mostly A’s while those averaging 7.3 hours scored mostly C’s.
- Research also indicates that adolescents are more likely to stay up later due to biological changes in sleep patterns, resulting in fewer hours of sleep. While this can be hard for parents to directly remedy, one way they can help is to encourage schools to push back start times. Researches have found that the impact of Seattle delaying secondary school times by almost an hour led to an increase of 34 minutes in average daily sleep and an increase in 4.5% in average grades, as well as improved attendance.
Putting It All into Action
If you want to make a difference in your child’s education, begin by showing an interest. Spend time with them and share experiences that can help them understand their world better.
If you are raising young children, engage in play and encourage them to explore. If you are raising a teen, assert yourself as a willing study-buddy to help review flashcards, double-check a math problem, and lend a listening ear. Motivate your children to push themselves by showing full support of their academic ventures. And remember, just as important as showing your support for what they do is guiding them on how to do it best.
The education system expects increasingly more from students. To succeed, students need to devote full attention while studying and completing assignments. This is not always easy in the world we live in, constantly bombarded by rings, pings, and notifications, so be sure to monitor your child’s internet and cell-phone use during designated time for school work.
Enhance School Performance with MMGuardian
While some of the tips mentioned require your own planning with your family, MMGuardian can help you ensure your child does not get interrupted by unwanted distractions while studying as well as protect your child.
If your child has an Android, you can set time limits for cell phone use, making all features other than emergency calls inaccessible while your child is doing school work. You can block specific apps or websites that may not be in your child’s best interest at any time, especially while trying to focus. You can monitor texts and calls to know if your child is struggling with giving attention to his or her work. There are also many other features to help protect your child such as alerts for serious issues such as drugs, suicide, bullying, etc. as well as AI-powered inappropriate picture alerts and tracking of your child’s location.
With these features and more, you can track and manage your child’s technology use as a first step in guaranteeing greater student success.
To get started with MMGuardian and receive a 14-day free trial, click here.
Consider also joining our Facebook group “Tech-Savvy Parenting” to discuss raising kids in the 21st century with other parents.