Children do well at school when their family and friends take an interest in their school and schoolwork. The same applies when you have teenagers in high school or older teens in college or university, although the way you show support may be different. Getting involved in your child’s education, even in the simplest ways, shows that you care about them and their school life. The more supported a child feels at home, the more effectively they learn.
Children in Elementary School
- Children notice when one or more parents attend school functions, such as open houses, meet-the-teacher nights, fun fairs, and concerts. Making it a priority to be at these events sends a direct message that you are interested in their school life and are willing to make time for it.
- Display projects, artwork, and appreciation certificates when they bring them home.
- Send them off with a healthy breakfast, snacks and lunch.
- Let them pick from “school clothes” what they want to wear. Like adults, kids feel confident in certain clothes.
- Listen to the good things they tell you about school and the not so good things. Kids need to know that you’re not always going to take the teacher’s side!
- At the first sign that your child seems unhappy, make an appointment to find out what is going on. Smaller issues can be resolved much easier before they become overwhelming.
Teens in High School
- Teenagers don’t want to admit they care if parents attend events, but attend anyway. Events are likely at the end of the day when you are tired, and your teen has already said “don’t bother coming”, but if you come across as positive about the experience, it shows that you are also positive about your teen’s education.
- Make appointments with teachers in classes where your teen is doing well in addition to classes that are challenging. It’s good to hear (and pass on) positive comments!
- Make sure your teen has a dedicated space for study with good lighting and a comfortable chair.
- These are the years when family dinners are still very important, even though life is more chaotic.
- Find opportunities to drive your teen places so you can talk in the car. “Car talks” are often when you find out more about what is going on in their lives.
- The above advice applies to post-secondary education, except you won’t have opportunities to meet teachers! There still may be a few events you can attend. If not, ask for a “tour” after your son or daughter gets settled.
- Listen when your college student wants to talk about careers and the future, but refrain from asking too many times, “So what do you want to do when you graduate?” This puts unnecessary pressure on a student at a time when the labour market is shifting so much. Just let them enjoy education for education’s sake — and tell them so!
At ALL ages, remind your son or daughter that you love them and you are confident they are going to do well in life!