5 Ways to Help Your Kids Get Ahead in School

We all know education is important for our kids’ growth. Mental stimulation keeps them happy and fulfilled and it is important as parents to help our kids stay on track with school subjects and core life skills. So, how do we do this?

Though some children will need significant tutoring, instead of focusing on remediating certain subjects, I have found that focusing on learning in general to be the key to school success. If there is an overall attitude in the home that learning is fun, then kids will be less likely to resist homework and mental tasks. Show your kids that learning is fun and make learning part of every day life. Model learning by taking up new skills yourself. So, where do we start?

It has often been said that reading is a door to the world. Without sufficient reading abilities, all other subjects become more difficult. We would do well as parents to encourage the development of reading skills in our children.

Francis Gretes with the Baltimore Library Project confirms the importance of reading. (www.baltimorelibraryproject.org) “Access to books…is the primary factor that leads to raising student test scores in all aspects of literacy. Access to books not only fosters an early love of learning and has a positive effect on reading achievement, but appears also to offset the impact of poverty. Results of studies show that children of poverty perform poorly on reading tests because they have very little access to books at home and in their communities…All aspects of literacy improve when children have access to books. If they have access to books, they read them, and they read them for longer periods of time.”

Library

I firmly believe that the number one thing you can do to ensure school success for your kids is give them access to books. You can buy them, download them, listen to them, but not everyone has the budget for this. You do, however, have a fantastic resource in your public library!
Go to the library!
Get a library card!
Make friends with your local librarian!
Utilize the many and diverse programs your library has to offer. Teach your kids how to research fascinating subjects and show your kids the importance of this amazing public resource!

Reading Aloud

What to do with all those books?
Read them, of course!
Not only is reading critical for vocabulary development, but reading fosters empathy and promotes discussion. In a world full of strife and disagreements, racism and religious divides, it is more important than ever to help our children learn about other people, cultures, and viewpoints. Reading about history, other cultures, people going through difficult circumstances, helps a child to develop understanding and compassion. Fiction of all sorts helps to develop a healthy imagination and creative thinking. Scientific books develop inquisitive thinking and understanding of our immediate world.

Museums

In addition to reading, it is important to find the local resources your community has to offer. Many communities have museums of one kind or another. You may live near an acclaimed science center or art museum, a living history site or important battlefield, or maybe just a neighbor’s small, quirky collection. All of these museums have something to offer. Kids need to see that learning is fun and museums help them to do this in a unique way. Even the smallest museums offer hands-on activities, history come-to-life, a unique perspective on the world. Although it may be more obvious that Colonial Williamsburg has historical relevance, even those quirky collections offer a window into the past. So, explore the history of your town, find out who the roads are named for, visit historical buildings and sites, utilize the museums in your area for summer and weekend outings.

Workbooks

Schools often suggest that students use workbooks to supplement learning during the summer. Tutoring centers, such as Kumon, sell workbooks and offer programming to help tutor students who are struggling and to challenge other students to keep up or move ahead. You don’t have to commit to expensive tutoring for your kids to stay ahead in school. Thanks to the internet, there are many free and inexpensive resources for fun activities and downloadable worksheets to keep kids’ minds and hands busy. Dollar stores and discount stores often have workbooks and activity books for kids of all ages. Even sudoku books, Mad Libs, and mazes are educational. These kinds of activity books are great to have on hand for rainy days, standing in lines, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc. It is important for adults to continue to stretch our minds, too. Model good habits for your children by also utilizing stimulating brain exercises. Do the crossword puzzles in the paper, work on sudoku puzzles, even take up adult coloring books. Do them with your children and show them that you don’t always have to be a slave to your smartphone.

Games

And, finally, play games with your children. Lots of games! Board games and card games promote problem-solving skills, strategy and planning, memory skills, and loads of math. Create a game night tradition, purchase a new family game each Christmas, don’t hesitate to spend long hours playing games on vacations or weekends. This kind of personal interaction with family members and the mental stimulation it provides is priceless.

Make learning and investigation a part of your family life and you will automatically see improvement in your child’s success at school.

Want more tips on scholastic success? Check out these posts:
10 Ways to Help Your Children Excel in School

3 Ways to Help Your Kids Score a Great Report Card

4 Ways to Create a Winning Homework Strategy

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