How to Help Your Child Do Better in School
If your child is having academic or social difficulties in school, there are a number of things you can do to alleviate some of these problems.
Sooner or later all kids run into problems of one kind or another at school. What few parents realize is that it is their own behaviors and attitudes that can make a huge difference in how well their children overcome such issues.
Many do things they think are helping, but in truth, they often do more harm than good.
For example, I once had a female student who wrote "I hate you" again and again on a sheet of paper, signed it and left it on my desk. When her mother came in for a conference and with her daughter sitting beside her, she refused to believe that her girl would ever do such a thing.
She did not realize that what she was doing was disrespecting the teacher as well as teaching her daughter that she would have no consequences for her negative behaviors.
Had she chosen instead to take part in a discussion to try and find out why her daughter behaved so negatively, she likely could have gotten to the bottom of the issue and been able to correct it. The teacher could have assisted her with this and perhaps advised that the child needed counseling, but when the parent took her protective stance, she ruined any chance of helping her daughter in a positive and constructive way.
In the long run she was harming rather than helping her child.
Below are some tips parents can use to provide appropriate help for their children's school issues.
Giving Proper Guidance
Kids are often full of fear, but often disguise it as bravado”. They need and want guidance but often act as if they don't and may even argue against it. However, if parents take the time to explain things children are more likely to accept the guidance their parents are giving them.
If you say “Don’t touch that stove burner” but don’t add “…because it is hot and can hurt you” a child is going to be much more likely to touch it so that he can find out why his parent made the original statement!
In this same light, if the parent in the above example would have explained to her daughter that what she did was wrong and why it was wrong, she would have been much less likely to do the same thing again.
All children want to please the adults in their lives, but none every want to be bullied or made to feel incompetent.
These are methods all teachers learn to use, and parents need to do the same if they want to really help their children academically and socially.
Maintaining Fair and Consistent Discipline
Someone in the past told me that if you don’t have a road map to follow you cannot know where you’re going.
That sums up the very reason why children both need and want discipline.
Parents who set up clear rules, explain and then enforce them consistently when need be are always going to have happier and more stable children.
Kids actually do not like being left to their own devices. They want to know the rules so that they can avoid problems and please their parents. They like the rewards that come with being a good boy or girl and will always do their best as long as they know what is expected.
Many will test parents and teachers to see if they mean what they say, which is why adults should not hesitate to be consistent and immediate when consequences are required.
Many confuse discipline with spanking, but spanking is never necessary if adults learn to be creative in their disciplinary methods.
For example, parents can
- eliminate deserts for a period of time,
- take away a favorite toy or book or
- refuse to allow the use of a computer.
What works best is choosing a punishment that takes away something the child really likes to have or do.
These things don’t “hurt”, but they are powerful enough to let a child know that he is being disciplined and worse will happen if he misbehaves again.
One would think kids would hate being disciplined, but when it is given correctly, they actually like it because it shows that someone cares enough to want to teach them right from wrong.
Providing a Sense of Ownership
One of the worst mistakes most parents make is to do everything for their children instead of making them do their share of the daily chores that make a home function.
When they do this, kids feel like guests rather than like family members because they basically contribute nothing to the household!
They may act like they enjoy being waited on hand and foot, but they actually feel shame and a sense of disconnect with their parents.
By doing this to their kids, parents remove any sense of pride their children might otherwise have and set up an invisible barrier that makes them resentful.
Expecting children to help with laundry, cleaning, mowing and other chores is an excellent way to teach them the skills they will need for everyday living and lets them know that the house is theirs, too.
These behaviors spill over into the classroom where students are often thanked and rewarded for the chores they do, so everybody wins.
I once had a student who had horrible behavior, but when I told him he could work outside as a helper to our school maintenance mad on Friday afternoons if he behaved and did his work, he became one of my best students.
Stop Making Excuses
It is very common for parents to try to avoid or excuse the behaviors of their children.
- send notes to school stating that Johnny was sick when teachers know full well that he was not,
- do his homework for him,
- allow him to consistently arrive late or
- defend his negative behaviors
they are teaching him that it's OK to lie, cheat and disrespect his teachers. This is extremely harmful because it leads to a variety of behaviors that damage academic standing and relationships with other students as well as adults who work in his school.
For example, every day that a child misses school, he creates learning gaps that cannot be recovered. Those gaps lead to poor understanding of concepts and lower grades on homework, classwork and tests.
Parents of such children may ask teachers to provide extra help for their failing children, but they should not have to do this because had the parent kept the child in school, allowed him to do his own work, insisted that he arrive on time every day and refused to excuse his behaviors, he wouldn't need extra help!
Children must learn to obey rules and show respect if they are to succeed, and parents should step back and allow them to do these things.
Provide a Place to Study
Learning works better if students have a quiet, separate area where they can study.
They also need to have that area equipped with the paper, pencils, computer or other tools that will help them to do their work.
They will not learn well if they are in an area where phones are ringing, people are talking or TVs are playing.
The area does not have to be large, but it must have the items mentioned here in order to help a child to learn.
Work With Your Child's School
Adults who had bad experiences when they were in school often develop a negative attitude towards the educational system as a whole.
At home they make negative comments about teachers or the way their child's school is being run, never realizing that they are passing on these views to their youngsters.
School is not the enemy. The people who work there want to help students to learn and grow. Parents who constantly fight against them, threaten lawsuits and do things of similar ilk really harm their children.
Those who come to parent nights, are available for conferences and volunteer their time to help monitor activities create a sense of pride in their children that translates into better socialization and higher grades.
When a child comes home expressing upset with a teacher, the worst thing a parent can do is to go rushing down to school angrily and start accusing the teacher of abusing their child or picking on him.
A better response is to set up a formal conference where issues can be discussed and clarified. In most cases parents find that their children were manipulating them, but are able to work out the issues with the help of the teacher.
However, parents must be wiling to do their part. I once had a parent who insisted that I send home a report every single day about her child, but refused (in front of him) to send one back telling me how she handled any problems.
This was a parent who wanted the school to raise her child for her and was letting him know that she did not care enough to do her part.
Kids Thrive When Given the Right Tools
The things mentioned in this article are those that children really need their parents to provide.
They require sacrifice and vigilance, but they pay off big time in terms of giving kids the tools they need to help them succeed in school and in life.
Do you think it's important for parents to help their children in the ways mentioned in this article?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Sondra Rochelle