10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (2023)

10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (1)

What children bring to the classroom matters every bit as muchandin some ways morethan what they are taught at school. We live in a world of high expectations. Aworld where five good GCSEs are a minimum requirement and giving your child the edge is key.

The good news is that your child'spotentialcan be easily developed and success can stem fromsimple everyday attitudes and examples. Don't worry, we are not suggesting you brush up on your Advanced Algebra just yet. The learning attitude that your child arrives at the school gates with each day can directly improve performance.

Nature can be nurtured. These common traits are either already naturally at your disposal or a small shift in awareness can quickly put them in reach.

1. Teach your child that failure is a stepping-stone to success

10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (2)

Any skill requires a period of incompetence in order to get competent. In short: to get good at something you have to start out being bad.

What’s more, encouraging your child to increase their failure rate (‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…’) is the best way to increase their learning and develop their success in any field.

To do this children need to have two key traits: little fear of failure and the resilience to push through when they fail the first few times and get to the point where they become skilful.

What can you do to develop these key traits in your child?

  • Teach them Chess
    Chess has often been described as the perfect teaching tool because of all the positive effects it has on children's logic, problem solving and strategic planning. It also requires discipline and concentration and these are excellent transferable skills inthe classroom.Many board gamesinvolve a level of chance; not chess. It's completely dependent on the skill and patience of the player.

    The innovativeYes 2 Chess campaign is a free online schools' chess community thathas seen fantasticresults in improving children's educational and social development through connecting junior players and international tournaments. Memory, maths, imagination and creatvity all get a boost during a game of chess and any school can sign up via a short application form to take part.

  • Tell them of your own failures and how you overcame them
    We may take it for granted that success requires hard work and overcoming of obstacles but this is not necessarily obvious to children. If you take time to explain your experience of a learning curve it will help them connect hard work with future rewards.
  • Don’t over praise
    Explain early on in life that everyone has different talents and that not everyone can get a trophy. Modern parents tend to over praise, which can lead to problems when children realise that they are not as ‘brilliant’ or ‘amazing’ as they thought they were. There is powerin setting positive but realistic expectations.

2. Make learning an activity your child loves

10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (3)

Learning is a hundred times harderif it is seen as a chore.Many of us had a mental block about maths at school and much of this was down to the fact that we told ourselves we didn’t like maths.

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Research psychologists have proven time and time again that a good mood makes you smarter, more engaged, more creative and more willing to persist at a difficult task. So if you can encourage a child to enjoy learning, then the rest is easy... or easier. The key is to setout with a positive mind-set that is pre-programmed to succeed.

3. Allowyour child to follow their passion

In a world of hyper specialisation it isn’t important – or even possible – to be good at everything. It’s more important to be excellent at a few things. So, if your child shows specific interest and takes a lot of joy in a certain topic at school, they will find it a lot easier to excel.

As parents there is a natural tendency to worry about the things our children are less good at and allow them to get on quietly with the things they love. If English is their passion, don’t be afraid to encourage and go OTT on its positive impact. Spending time with them as they connect and enjoy a subject will also give insight into ways we can help transfer that joy to a less loved topic.

The Reading World Cup, a joint project between the Literacy Trust and the Football Foundation and the Professional Footballers’ Association, has helped thousands of sports-mad boys unlock a love of reading. Making reading a challenge and introducing a competitive element with specific goalsis key.

Further reading
Education.com: Hacking education how kids love learning by Dale Stephens.
PowerToChange: Helping your child love learning by Dr Dave Currie.
SchoolFamily:Instill a love of learning in your child by June Allan Corrigan.
Parents: Raising kids who love to learn by Ginny Graves.

4. Make academic subjects feelrelevant to your child

Often it is hard for a child to focus and truly enjoy a subject because they cannot see how has any relevance for their life or will help them in the future. Specific subjects are branded in their heads as something they need to do to keep the adults around them happy.

10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (4)

In her book ‘How to do Maths so Your Children Can Too: The essential parents' guide’, leading maths teacher and author Naomi Sani encourages mums and dads to live maths as a family, counting coins for bus fares and dividing slices of cake to bring division alive. Lego bricks can be a colourful and playful way to explore fractions. Everyday objects are mathematically sorted.

When travelling, involve your child with map reading (geography), ask them to help with finding the translation of a word on your iPad (French, Spanish… even Mandarin)!Ever tried making homemade modelling clay or slime? This is science in the real world. Tell them it is chemistry. Or dip in to biology when they bump and bruise their knee.

You can also tell your children how maths has been useful in your jobs. (‘When I was a student I worked in a bar and I had to learn to do mental arithmetic very quickly. Drinks were 99p back then and Iwas I glad I knew my 9 times tables.’)

Further reading
How to do maths: Maths problems winning heart and minds by Naomi Sani.
Edutopia: Science Shows Making Lessons Relevant Really Matters by Sara Bernard.
American Psychological Association: Helping students find relevance by Robin Roberson.

5. Involve games in learning as much as possible

10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (5)

If you can turn learning into a game, children, who are hard-wired to play, will respond and learn much more quickly. An entire area of psychology has developed to study this field. It’s called gameification, and the term is used to describe the action of turning something into a game in order to improve engagement.

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My own son sees a tutor to help him with his English. Some weeks he turns up, tired and disconnected, and the idea of completing a comprehension exercise is clearly a no-no. The tutor, who is also a trained child psychotherapist, regularly pushes aside the workbooks and suggests they play Hangman or Scrabble. His love of words has come on in leaps and bounds.

Indeed, Scrabble is widely recognised as having benefits for literacy rates.

But it’s not all about board games and old school parlour play. Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of computer games designed to make you more intelligent. Brain training games are popular but there has been little evidence to prove that the games in themselves had any actual positive effect on the player.

6. Motivate children by consequencerather than punishment

We’ve all done it. Used the threat of taking away something our child loves in order to try and motivate them. ‘If you don’t start doing your homework in the next ten minutes, there will be no iPad after dinner.’

The problem is that this does not mimic life as a grown up. Adult life is determined by a cause and effect, and if a child starts to learn that the outcomes are determined by their actions, you can nurture a strong sense of motivation which they can take with them right through their education and beyond.

Motivation by consequences

  • Helps the child learn self-control
  • Can be used with teenagers, who might otherwise find ways around a ban
  • Builds the child's self-esteem
  • Sets a good example of effective ways to solve problems

Motivation by punishment

  • May teach children to deceive parents
  • Rarely helps teenagers to learn valuable lessons
  • Can reduce self-esteem
  • Teaches children that threats are an acceptable way to solve problems

This is a good example based on a real experiment designed to explore cause and effect in child psychology:

“ A Mother told her daughter, in a firm and friendly voice, that in the future she would only wash clothes that were placed in the laundry bag. After five days, the girl had no clean clothes to wear to school and was unhappy to have to wear dirty, crumpled clothes. After that, she remembered to place her clothes in the bag.”
Valya Telep, Child Development Specialist

Further reading
Virginia State University: Discipline and Punishment: What is the Difference? by Valya Telep.
Empowering parents: How to give kids consequences that work by James Lehman.

7. Improve your child's depth of processing

Researchers at Sheffield University found that trying to remember something has been shown to have almost no effect on whether we actually remember it. Look at notes with your child and help them reorganise the information in some way so they process and understand it. This approach, called depth of processing, is one of the best ways to ensure material gets lodged in your memory.

Depth of processing is often cited as key aspect of successful revisionwhich also includes:
•spacing out practice –analysis showsthat people who leave longer gaps between practice attempts go on to score higher.
• failing occassionally is good – people who are most inconsistent when they first start have better scores later on.
•Practisingthe thing you'll be tested on – if the test is an essay, practice writing essays!
• Getting rest and sleep – studies shows that a brief rest after learning something can help you remember it a week later.

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The implication for revision is clear: just looking at your notes won't help you learn them. Instead, you need to reorganise the information in some way – whether by making your own notes or practising writing answers. Thiswill help to ensure that material gets lodged in your child’s memory.

A popular online tool called Memrise can also help with improving depth of processing. It’s basically a quiz that is designed to help you memorise anything.It’s a double whammy too: just by building the test you are improving your depth of processing then, after you have finished, you can run through the test again to improve your recall and understanding.

10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (6)

Further reading:
Psychological Science: Tracing the Trajectory of Skill Learning With a Very Large Sample of Online Game Players by Tom Stafford.
EdLabs: Memrise - A Green-thumbed Approach to Language Learning by Stephen Pratt.
MIT Technology review: Plant a New Language in Your Mind by Kristina Bjoran.

8. Equip your childwith switching off and relaxation techniques

Focus and concentration can be one of the biggest barriers to success in school. Teaching your child to shut down can be vital in improving their ability to switch on at the right times. Active relaxation, simple breathing exercises or even basic meditation can have a powerful impact on the ability to learn. Switching off in front of TV may feel relaxing for your child but it is far better to learn the skill to calm your mind on itsown. Charlotta Martinus of Teen Yoga, the UK’s specialist yoga training centre accredited with the Yoga Alliance UK, says developing pro-active relaxation tecnhiques helps combat stress and improves learning. She has taken yoga courses in to hundreds of UK schools to great educational effect. Watch a short video about Teen Yoga.

Further reading:
Teaching children meditation: Parenting and education with mindfulness by Lorraine Murray.
The Independent: Meditation to stop tantrums by Rebecca Hardy.

9. Allow your child (safe)access to the internet

Historically, academic success has been founded on an ability to remember and regurgitate facts and figures. This is changing in our hyper-connected modern world where the answer to pretty much any question can be found at the click of a mouse.

The ability to research and find answers to questions is as important as ever, if not more. The internet can be a powerful tool in learning this key skill.

As parents there is a tendency to try to limit screen time as we often use iPads and PCs as virtual babysitters, something our children can switch on and give us a little space. This shouldn’t stop pro-actively scheduling computer time for educational purposes: so-called ‘tech for good time’ can be highly beneficial.

Children with regular, education-focused internet access are at an advantage when it comes to exams according to this article 'Children with internet access at home gainexamadvantage':www.theguardian.com/education/2011/may/21/children-internet-access-exam-advantage

Follow these twoeasy steps:

1. Keep the computer in the living room
By having the computer in a public room of the house you can monitor what your childrenare doing and also more easily manage time limits.

2. Install a protection tool
It’s vital that you have child security settings installed to enable you to relax and let your child research to their heart’s content without fear of them coming across inappropriate material. Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky or BT, provide controls to help you filter or restrict content. You can install software packages, some are available for free, that can help you filter, restrict or monitor what your child can see online.

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10. Allow them the space to learn empathy

“Unstructured play is that set of activities that children create on their own without adult guidance. Children naturally, when left to their own devices, will take initiative and create activities and stories in the world around them.”
Avril Swan, Parenting Expert

Children with better empathy tend to relate and do better in the world.Can you directly teach empathy? The short answer is no. The more you try to actively encourage empathy, the more you get in the way. The presence of a parent often goes hand-in-hand with a set of instructions (i.e. we tell them the right way to behave) but a hands-off approach to encouraging empathy can be very effective.

There are two key ways that are you can encourage empathy:

1.Allow time for unstructed play
Empathy is often learntwhen authority is removed anda child without a structure or parental guidance needs to make decision by themselves. In a structured team sports game, children are organised to play with each other. However, during unstructured play, the child has to take in to consideration the actions and feeling of the other children. If they don’t, they will quickly find themselves playing on their own. Giving your child this space will mean they need to quickly learn to consider others' opinion and learn to negotiate.

2.Facilitate children of different ages to play together
Children spend a great deal of time with their peers at school as they are taught in year groups and often socialise withother children from their common Key Stage groups at playtimes. Outside of school, our extended families often live far away so social time with cousins of different ages can be limited too. A lot is gained, however, if we facilitate children of different ages play together. This benefits both children: the older child get the opportunity to learn leadership and nurturing skills whilst the younger child is given an effective role model to emulate and extra source of care and support.

    “Unfortunately, many children in our society today have little opportunity for age-mixed play. More and more, free neighbourhood play - which was usually age-mixed - has been replaced by adult-directed, age-segregated activities for children and by indoor solitary play. Before we move even further in this direction or give up on the idea of reversing this trend, we would do well to have a firm understanding of the evolutionary functions of age-mixed play and how those functions are still relevant to children’s development today.”
    Peter Gray, Leading Research Psychology Professor

    Cubs, Brownies, Girl Guides and Scouts can be an excellent way for your child to mix with a range of ages of children locally.

    Theatre groups such as Curtain Up, whose motto is ‘lifting the curtain on confidence’,or the National Youth Theatre sees children of different ages and acting abilities work together week in, week out and also nurtures a good sense of camaraderie. Likewise, youth music groups and orchestras can enable the mixed age experience. Try Youth Music for groups and opportunities in your area of the UK.

    Further reading
    Kevin MD: Why children need more unstructured play by Avil San MD.
    On Being: Play spirit and characterby Stuart Brown.
    Psychology Today: The Special Value of Children's Age-Mixed Play.

    {Bonus tip} And finally… lead by example

    The New York Times recently ran an article with the headline'If Drivers Buckle Up, Children Do.' It was based on a US study looking in to the way children copy the behaviour of the adults around them.

    So how can we expect our children to love reading if they don’t see us pick up a book?

    10 proven ways to help your child do well at school. Simple steps every parent can try at home (7)

    All of the areas in this article that we have highlighted as being able to help your child do well at school lead back to you. This isn’t a statement to add pressure or guilt about our behaviour or habits. It’s the opposite: we have all the tools in our educational armoury to show your children the way.

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    By doing the following, your children will follow you:

    • Love to learn – no matter what age
    • Show empathy
    • Learn to relax
    • Be bold and embrace failure
    • Make time to mix with family and different friends with an age range of children
    • Join them in their learning journey and share real-life and personal learning examples


    What can parents do to help their children do well at school? ›

    Top 10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Kids Get the Best Education
    • Participate at Your Kid's School. ...
    • Make Sure Homework Gets Done. ...
    • Make Sure Your Kid is Ready to Learn When They Get to School. ...
    • Teach Your Kid How to Put Stuff Where It Goes. ...
    • Teach Your Child Study Skills That Work.

    What are the 10 responsibilities of a parent? ›

    Your duties and rights as a parent
    • to protect your child from harm.
    • to provide your child with food, clothing and a place to live.
    • to financially support your child.
    • to provide safety, supervision and control.
    • to provide medical care.
    • to provide an education.
    22 Sept 2020

    What are the 3 most important things a parent can teach a child? ›

    “Be respectful,” “be thankful for what you have” and “honesty is the best policy” are the top three life lessons American parents hope to teach their children, according to a new survey. Rounding out the top five life lessons parents want to instill are “never give up” and “learn from your mistakes.”

    What is the role of parents in school? ›

    The Role of Parents in Education

    Parents have been known to be a child's first teacher from the moment a child is born and as they mature into adults, the traditional role of parents involve teaching, guiding, and raising children to become strong standing members of their communities.

    What should be the role of parents in child education? ›

    A role of parents in their child's education is to participate in their children's activities to give them the feeling that they are being supported. This makes them feel more confident about themselves.

    What are the Nine 9 duties of parents towards their children? ›

    603) also provides that parents shall have the following duties following their children: 1) to give them attention, companionship and understanding; 2) to extend to them the benefits of moral guidance, self-discipline and religious instruction; 3) to supervise their activities, including recreation; 4) to inculcate in ...

    How do I make my child successful in life? ›

    5 ways to help set your child up for future success
    1. Stimulate baby talk and treat it as real conversation. ...
    2. Read to your baby to exercise language. ...
    3. Use everyday experiences as learning opportunities. ...
    4. Take play seriously. ...
    5. Lead by example.

    What three pieces of advice will you give your children? ›

    What advice would you give your children?
    • Be happy, have fun, be kind to your body and heart. ...
    • Know what to let go of. ...
    • You're in charge of your own life. ...
    • Earning your own money will give you a sense of pride, but don't spend every penny.
    11 Sept 2015

    How can parents help struggling students? ›

    10 Tips for Parents

    Provide a place and time at home for homework. Check on assignments, homework and projects. Talk each day with your child about his/her activities. Promote literacy by reading to your child and by reading yourself.

    In what ways you can help school? ›

    10 Simple Ways to Support Public Schools
    • Mentor a student. ...
    • Volunteer at school events. ...
    • Join a parent organization. ...
    • Donate Supplies. ...
    • Attend school board meetings. ...
    • Follow local education reporters. ...
    • Volunteer for career day. ...
    • Share your story.
    11 Aug 2021

    How parents can support their children? ›

    Being a supportive parent means having your child's best interests at heart but also being present, involved and helpful. It includes: actively encouraging them to do their best with school, their hobbies and interests. listening without judgment and seeking to understand their concerns and challenges.

    How does parent involvement lead to student success? ›

    Parental involvement not only enhances academic performance, but it also has a positive influence on student attitude and behavior. A parent's interest and encouragement in a child's education can affect the child's attitude toward school, classroom conduct, self-esteem, absenteeism, and motivation.

    How parents play an important role in children's life? ›

    Parents are among the most important people in the lives of young children. Parents include mothers and fathers, as well as other caregivers who act as parents. From birth, children rely on parents to provide them with the care they need to be happy and healthy, and to grow and develop well.

    What is the role of parents in their child's success? ›

    Help their children discover their skills, abilities, and interests, while learning about their strengths and weaknesses. Help their children consider career or educational options instead of pushing them into pursuing what is socially acceptable or economically rewarding.

    What is positive school culture? ›

    Broadly defined, positive school cultures are conducive to professional satisfaction, morale, and effectiveness, as well as to student learning, fulfillment, and well-being.

    Who is more responsible parents or teachers? ›

    Parents are primarily responsible. They bring children into this world. Teachers are responsible for the safety and education of children while they are at school and in their care. Parents and teachers both play a role in being responsible for children in different ways.

    What type of learning environment is best for your child? ›

    Research tells us preschool-age children learn best in environments where they can have secure relationships with caring and responsive adults, where they feel safe, and where they feel free to explore and learn.

    How can parents help their children achieve success in their studies? ›

    Ask them to provide a quiet, well-lit space for homework. Once your child is home, go over his homework to make sure it is complete. Answer any questions he has about his work. The example you set will make more of an impression than your words.

    How can your family help you go to school? ›

    My parents pay for my school fees, the bus fees, for my uniform, etc. I have a study table of my own, where I can study in peace. If I have any difficulties, my parents help me and encourage me. My mother cooks nutritious food so that I can be healthy and study well.

    How can parents support their children? ›

    Being a supportive parent means having your child's best interests at heart but also being present, involved and helpful. It includes: actively encouraging them to do their best with school, their hobbies and interests. listening without judgment and seeking to understand their concerns and challenges.

    What makes a child successful in life? ›

    Being kind and firm is the characteristic of authoritative parenting, which has been consistently found linked to a kid's success. Children whose parents are authoritative tend to do better in school, more resilient, have better coping skills, and less likely to drop out from school8.

    In what ways you can help school? ›

    10 Simple Ways to Support Public Schools
    • Mentor a student. ...
    • Volunteer at school events. ...
    • Join a parent organization. ...
    • Donate Supplies. ...
    • Attend school board meetings. ...
    • Follow local education reporters. ...
    • Volunteer for career day. ...
    • Share your story.
    11 Aug 2021

    What should I do to succeed in school? ›

    8 Steps to Academic Success
    1. Step 1: Set Goals. Goals help to keep you going by: ...
    2. Step 2: Have a Positive Attitude. ...
    3. Step 3: Manage Your Time. ...
    4. Step 4: Read Textbooks & Course Readings. ...
    5. Step 5: Attend your Lectures. ...
    6. Step 6: Record your Lecture Notes. ...
    7. Step 7: Prepare for Exams. ...
    8. Step 8: Write Your Exams.

    What do students struggle with the most? ›

    Common Issues
    • Social anxiety, general anxiety, test anxiety, or panic attacks.
    • Family expectations or problems.
    • Depression, lack of energy or motivation, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, low self-esteem, homesickness, loneliness.
    • Relationship difficulties (emotional and physical aspects of intimate relationships)

    Why do some kids struggle in school? ›

    Common Causes for Academic Struggles

    These might include learning or developmental disorders or mental health conditions like anxiety, social anxiety, or depression. Kids who are ill, who have difficulty sleeping, or who are experiencing stress or trauma at home may all struggle academically.

    How do you support students? ›

    Below are 10 ways to help students in special education return to normal classroom instruction.
    1. Be Patient. ...
    2. Make Time to Listen. ...
    3. Modify, Modify, Modify. ...
    4. Rapport Is Key. ...
    5. Support Students Dealing With Change. ...
    6. Review, Review, and Review Routines. ...
    7. Implement Strategies to Assist With Focusing. ...
    8. Help Students Stay on Track.
    2 Sept 2021

    Can I take my 4 year old out of school? ›

    Parents often like to make the most of their child's Reception year to take a term-time holiday before the academic pressure intensifies, but schools often discourage this. However, legally speaking, it's not unlawful for you to take your child out of school for a holiday before they reach Compulsory School Age.

    Why is family support important for students? ›

    When parents are involved, students get better grades, score higher on standardized tests, have better attendance records, drop out less often, have higher aspirations, and more positive attitudes toward school and homework.


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