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Traits of A+ Parents


Q. What do successful parents do to help their children in school?


         Get as much education as possible, and have substantial savings, BEFORE you start your family. The No. 1 correlate of school success is well-educated, stable parents.


         Be married when you have the child, and stay married. Statistics show that coming from a stable home with a mom and a dad in place is the strongest background for good schooling.


         Don't move, except for career or academic reasons: it's usually a setback academically for a child.


         Private schooling and homeschooling are statistically better than public schooling, but count the costs. "Afterschooling" your child with learning activities you do with him or her, or paying for tutoring and special learning experiences, may be better for your family and more affordable.


         The demographics and language skills of your child's classmates are key. Think about how much time your child spends in the company of classmates; a lot of the behavior modeling, language modeling and idea formation will stem from peers. Some parents may decide that having model classmates is more important than having a model teacher. If the kids your child is going to school with aren't great, strongly consider moving to a different public school, undertaking the expense of private school, or homeschooling.


         Set high expectations for both learning and behavior with your child, but strike a balance between pressure and passivity, or perfectionism and neglect. Keep the tone light and loving in your home.


         Take your child to the library once a week; make it a "must."


         Read to your child nightly through Grade 6; 20 to 30 minutes is great.


         Serve well-balanced, homemade meals. Breakfast is key. Minimize sugars, salts and pop. Offer healthy snacks like fresh fruits and sliced vegetables.


         Set consistent wake-up times, mealtimes, homework hours, perhaps a phone hour and a TV hour, and a regular bedtime. The best students get eight hours of sleep or more.


         Set up a quiet place for homework. No multi-tasking with music, TV or Instant Messaging. Your child needs to concentrate to be able to study, learn, remember and think deeply. Point out how much more quickly the homework gets done when it's the main focus, and then there'll be time for socializing and amusements afterwards.


         Chores are crucial. Start young. By high school, your child should be doing a couple of hours of housework or yardwork each week.


         Part-time jobs can be wonderful, but make sure school comes first.


         Limit after-school activities to two or three at a time. These can shift around during the school year. But don't overload your child or put too much pressure on him or her. Think exercise, character and the arts. Examples: soccer team and piano lessons, or dance class and Scouts. Spiritual activities on the weekends and Wednesday nights are important, too.


         Set curfews and consequences for missing them.


         Make your child less selfish, and more tolerant, by directly involving him or her in volunteer activities that you do as a family for the less fortunate, the sick, the elderly and others who are disadvantaged in some way. Teach your child to be giving and generous by regularly making everyone in the family cull through their possessions and giving away what you don't need.


         Religious education is important. Remember, your child will get zip in public school. Make spiritual formation a "must" in your child's weekly schedule, for lifelong and, some would say, eternal rewards.


         Teach your child about sex and other "hot potatoes." Don't leave the key tasks of parenting up to strangers at school.


         Tell your child each time you part: "I love you!"


Homework: For more ideas, see


By Susan Darst Williams Parental Involvement 02 2008



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