We all want our children to lead successful and happy lives. But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for parenting, and often it can be confusing trying to figure out the best way to help your child reach their full potential. You might have heard that you need to pay for an expensive class or fancy private lessons in order for your child to succeed, but that’s not actually the case. After all, learning always starts at home, and you are your child’s first teacher!
There are plenty of simple ways you can encourage your child’s growth without breaking the bank. Do these five simple things every day and you can be sure your child will be able to succeed at anything.
- Meet the Teacher
Getting to know your child’s teacher is an important first step in helping them be successful. Studies have found that children are more motivated and perform better in school when their parents are engaged in student life. Meeting with a teacher will give you a better idea of what your child is learning, and the teacher might provide ideas and strategies for how to help encourage your child’s schoolwork at home.
Attend a parent-teacher conference or back-to-school night if you can. If you’re unable to make in-person meetings, setting up a time to call or using e-mail to communicate are also great options for getting involved. Don’t know what to talk about? The Everymom has a very helpful list of questions to ask your child’s teacher.
- Establish a Morning Routine
Yes, what they say is true: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! Research shows that good food boosts brain power and helps children be more alert, productive, and concentrated. Children who eat a healthy breakfast tend to make fewer mistakes in math problems and perform better on vocabulary tests than kids who skipped breakfast or ate an incomplete meal. Focus on foods that are balanced with protein, fiber, and carbohydrates, like some whole-grain cereal with fruit or a vegetable omelet. If you’re running short on time, you can prep food the previous night or over the weekend, and keep some healthy grab-and-go foods on hand, like yogurt, for days when you’re rushing out the door.
To start the day off right, you also need to think about the night before. Making sure your child is getting enough sleep is crucial. Children in elementary school typically need between 9 to 11 hours. Developing a nighttime ritual that involves relaxing (phone-free!) activities like taking a bath or reading a story can help your child fall asleep more easily.
- Help With Homework
Homework helps children learn study habits, time management, and organizational skills. In elementary school, small amounts of homework help support later academic achievement. Carving out some time every evening to work on homework with your child will not only help them improve in school, but it can also boost their self-esteem and make your relationship closer. It’s okay if you don’t know the right answer—you can help by offering a quiet and comfortable place to study, providing supplies, setting a routine, and having an encouraging attitude. Rather than answer the questions for them, encourage your child’s problem-solving skills by helping them think through things on their own.
Sometimes you won’t have time to sit down for homework help, and that’s okay! You don’t have to pay for an expensive tutor to support your child’s learning. Contact the school to learn if there are any free tutoring groups or after school programs. You can also look into offerings at local churches, libraries, and nonprofit organizations. With a little bit of research, you’re sure to find the right fit for your child.
- Teach Study and Organizational Skills
It’s never too early to teach study and organizational skills, and leading by example is a great way to help your child maximize their potential. Stay organized by keeping an assignment book and homework folder to keep track of assignments—your child’s teacher might even provide these materials. Show your child how to use a planner, make to-do lists to prioritize tasks, and keep a tidy desk or study space in your home.
There are also tricks you can teach that will make studying less stressful and overwhelming. Breaking up work into small chunks will help your child stay focused and motivated, and you can teach study skills like acronyms for remembering information.
- Learn Outside the Classroom
Show your child that learning happens everywhere! There are many free activities you can do to stimulate curiosity, like checking out a free museum, park, historical site, or school play. There are also all sorts of free online games that are both fun and educational: here is a great list to start. Get a library card and help your child find new books on topics they’re interested in, or attend one the library’s free educational events. Watch documentaries, read books together, and try out some arts & crafts. Picking up a new hobby and showing your child your own excitement and curiosity can also help encourage them to take an active role in their learning.
Academic achievement boosts self-esteem, and the more your child learns and grows, the more they will feel confident and capable of reaching their goals. Children who grow up in an encouraging and stable home environment have less anxiety and a higher sense of security, which makes them more likely to lead independent and happy lives. These 5 tips will help your child succeed in elementary school, but they’ll also give them the tools to succeed in life. A world of opportunity awaits!