If you could do only one thing to help your child do better in school, the U.S. Department of Education says that would be the following: Encourage your child to read. When he or she learns how to read, it will help in all subject areas throughout the years of school, and also will help your child become a lifelong learner.
Encouraging your child to read comes in many forms. When a child is still a baby, it’s typically appropriate to read to him or her several times a day for a few minutes at a time. As the child ages, he or she probably will indicate when it’s time for storytime to last longer. When your child become verbal, encourage questions. Talk about the story together, and consider pausing your reading at certain points, inviting your child to predict what might happen next. When your child is ready, ask him or her to read out loud to you.
Inexpensive reading material is available at yard sales and library book sales, and you can check books and magazines out at no cost at public and school libraries. When friends and family members plan to buy your child birthday gifts or gifts for other holidays, recommend they include books and/or magazines on their shopping lists.
Let your child see how much you value reading. Read for pleasure, and read letters, recipes and directions out loud in front of your child. Set aside family reading time, where you either read together or read separately at the same time. Check books out together at the library and attend library programs as a family.
If your child struggles with reading, find out why. Does he or she need glasses? Tutoring? There are numerous literacy programs in most communities, including after school and summer reading programs. To quote an in-depth booklet from the U.S. Department of Education, “Nothing is more important than your support for your child as she goes through school. Make sure she gets any extra help she needs as soon as possible and always encourage her and praise her efforts.”HealthyChildren.org offers additional tips to help your child do better in school, including establishing healthy habits. Provide healthy meals, ensure your child gets adequate sleep, encourage exercise and limit time spent using electronic devices. Create a healthy routine and stick to it, providing a place where your child can keep school-related belongings, from a lunch box to homework supplies, backpacks and more. Also ensure that your child has a well-lit designated place to do homework. Scholastic also provides excellent suggestions to motivate your child, including creating an environment where your child can express opinions, share feelings and make choices. What side dish would he prefer that you make for dinner? Given some choices for extracurricular activities, what is her preference? You can also help by showing enthusiasm for your child’s interests, whether it’s about the planets or American Indian history, flowers or putting puzzles together. When you learn new things, be enthusiastic as you share your adventures with your child.
Celebrate achievements, large or small, and focus on your child’s strengths, encouraging further development of them. If you turn everyday events into opportunities to learn and explore the world, learning will become a natural part of life — and that will spill over into how well your child does in school.