11 Ways To Help Your Child Succeed in School
Back to school time can be chaotic for both you and the kiddos. Whether they are attending a new school or returning after a long, carefree summer, back to school time is a transition. Here are 11 ways you can prepare for the school year that’ll help your child succeed in school and build your connection.
1. Start With A Clean Slate
A new school year means new opportunities, new obstacles, and lots of room for growth. If your child is dwelling on the poor grade they received on a project last year or afraid to see an old friend they fell off with, they’re going to feel some anxiety.
The same goes for you–if last school year was hard, set the tone by letting go of whatever challenges your child presented last year.
By sending the message of a clean slate, you reduce stress and allow your children to have a fresh start.
You can physically do this by cleaning out the clutter from desks, closets, and drawers. Bonus if you can establish a routine to promote organizational skills and ease the morning. You can also verbally message this by developing a go-to line like, “This year is a fresh start for all of us.” Or better yet, “I’m confident that we can have a fresh start.”
2. Connect Before The First Day
Be sure to connect with your child in the days leading up to the first day to find out how they’re feeling. Observe what they say and their body language alike.
If they express worries, hear them out. You can also talk them through their worries by asking them, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” This encourages both connection and rational thinking. When they’ve vented, remind them that it’s normal that every student is nervous for the first day. You can also lend them your confidence by saying something like, “I trust that by next week, you’re going to be settling into your groove.”
3. Establish Boundaries For The School Year
Household rules for teens and children are necessary. Bedtimes and screen limits are the two most important boundaries you can have.
If your summer has been pretty carefree, start getting back into good habits now. Setting a bedtime and morning alarms a few days before the first day will get kids back on schedule after a summer of sleeping in and maybe staying up a little too late.
4. Set The Tone Of Understanding
Starting today, acknowledge that you understand the high amount of stress on today’s kids and watch how much it melts their teenage angst towards you.
Today’s kids have such high expectations to meet, and the pressure can start to take a toll. Once you communicate that you understand the stress that kids are under, they will appreciate that you’re noticing that and are willing to help.
(If it helps, think back to a time when you needed advice from your mom, and she brushed you off, which only led to other problems.)
5. Promise To Work On Being A Non-Anxious Presence
High anxiety can fill the room with tension that can be felt by kids. Whether you believe it or not, kids can tell when you’re stressed, and they might put the blame on themselves.
It’s hard to be a calm parent–there are many intense anxiety triggers in today’s world. But I promise that adopting a non-anxious presence will allow your child to be more open with you and make them feel like they are enough. This kind of connection is priceless.
6. Understand SEL and Seek Opportunities To Integrate It At Home
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) are the skills beyond academics that are used every day in the classroom. These lifelong skills include understanding emotions, setting and achieving goals, feeling empathy for others, creating relationships, and making responsible decisions.
All of these aspects will ensure that your child is taking their education seriously and can balance social and school life.
This is a great introductory video from CASEL.org about how parents can integrate SEL into their homes.
7. Make Contact With The Guidance Staff
Meeting and discussing your child’s needs with a school guidance counselor is an option that parents may not be aware of. The school counselor is a valuable point of contact if you are concerned about behavior, change in grades, or social interactions.
I recently worked with a family whose son struggles socially. I suggested that they reach out to their son’s guidance counselor for advice.
After they reached out, they learned that their son was already regularly meeting with a group of 10 other boys who had the same challenges–and they were becoming friends. The meetings allowed the boys to socialize and realize that they’re not alone.
Erin Consorti, a guidance counselor in California, offers this perspective: “I think parents often think that because their children are in high school, they are now somehow responsible for themselves. I like to remind parents that they are still in charge. Although we want our kids to start making their own decisions, it is still the parents’ role to guide them down the right path.”
8. Let Them Find An Organizational System That Works For Them
As adults, we’ve gone through a lot of trial and error for learning our most efficient ways of productivity. Sometimes this takes 25 years to get organized and productive, so expecting this from a teen is unrealistic.
Even if you know that the optimal time to do homework is 5:00 but your teen works better at 7:00, then so be it. As long as there are no negative consequences, let them figure out when is the best time for them to do their homework.
This freedom will allow them to begin learning and maintaining their productivity skills. To make sure that you’re providing the right amount of help without being too controlling, encourage them to talk to the subject matter and let them teach you.
9. Memorize The Phrase, “What’s your plan?”
Too often and without realizing it, parents shut down their kids’ interests without hearing them out. Asking the question “What’s your plan?” will push your child to think about their future and explain themselves–two valuable skills.
Encourage your children to recognize and practice the things that they’re good at or enjoy doing. Realizing a hidden talent can someday lead to their career of choice.
If your child doesn’t have high academic success, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be successful. Encourage them to be their best and sign them up for activities that will help them discover what they love.
On the other hand, if your child’s dream is to go to Princeton and be a doctor, encourage them to work hard in school. Follow that question with an open mind and more questions that will show your child that you believe in them.
10. Offer To Be A Partner In Studying, But Not Teaching
Teens don’t learn how to study overnight. If you want to be useful in the process, give your teen a chance to make connections about the information and then apply their knowledge. Studying should consist of talking, writing, and interacting with information before a test.
As a parent, allow kids to talk to you about the things they learn; this will enable them to be the expert giving them confidence that they thoroughly absorbed the lesson. Provide them with your undivided attention. If they get something wrong, correct them with the objective answer, not your opinion.
Furthermore, make sure to ask questions and give praise when they show mastery of the material. This way, your child is building rapport and actively learning how to study. Unhelpful things to do while helping a teen study are: rewriting things, giving unsolicited advice, and giving ideas instead of the material they got taught in school.
11. Learn The Resources That Can Be Helpful For Your Kid
There are countless resources online that help kids with learning, typing, and other skills. Things like FreeRice.com, where kids practice typing vocabulary words and KidBlog.com, where teachers set up blogs to practice and improve student writing. KhanAcademy.org is invaluable for reviewing challenging material, and quizlet.com helps kids study. Don’t be hesitant to let your kids roam the educational web; they might find something that interests them.
The start of school is busy time. Before things get hectic, set a tone of connection and understanding that’ll improve how you and your child relate. Add this relational component to some of the more practical ways to help your child succeed in school and watch him soar this year!
If you want to address a single greatest challenge to a successful school year, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me here.