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School Success Depends on Parents

Article Date: 
18 June, 2010 - 06:00

I have often been asked, “What can a busy parent do to make sure their child succeeds in school?”  According to the Parent Institute, four simple things can be done to help parents make sure their child is doing their best in school.
First, is to make sure your child is in school every day.  This past year at Mountain Green Elementary we averaged 21 students absent each day, or about 4.5 % of our students.  That is nearly one class of students absent each day.  Another way of putting it is that 26,460 hours of instructional time was lost to the students of Morgan County.   We also averaged 11 students who came to school about 10 minutes tardy each day.  Eleven students, at 10 minutes tardy each day with 180 school days in a school year, totals another  330 hours of instructional time that our students are missing.  Total instructional time lost was 26,790 hours.  
Statistics show that when children miss over 15 days of school during the school year, scores on the Criterion Reference Test (also known as, “No Child Left Behind”) drop close to 20% from those who attend school regularly.  Parents should try hard not to schedule medical appointments during school hours.  Not taking your child out of school for trips and activities can also make a significant difference to their success in school.  Helping your child to be on time to school not only helps him/her, but prevents class time disruption for the whole class that the child attends.
Second, parents can encourage their child to make good health decisions.  Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast.  Going to bed at a regular time each night will help their attention span throughout the school day.  Making sure your child exercises, instead of sitting in front of the TV and playing computer games, will help stimulate his/her mind.
The third item mentioned by the Parent Institute is to “Read for Success.”  The ability to read well is one of the strongest indicators of success at school.  Reading is a lot more than just being able to say the words.
Helping children comprehend what they are reading is paramount to long-term success after one leaves school.   Parents can have their child read simple things like comic books, newspaper articles, and nonfiction books that are on their child’s reading level, and then have them summarize what they have read.  Talk with your child about the purpose of the article.  Use fiction books they are reading and ask them to tell you what is going on in the story.  Ask questions like:  What is the main idea of the book?  What is the plot?  Who are the characters?  Where is the setting for the book?  In other words, talk to your child about what they are reading.   Show them you care by listening to them.
Last, but by far not the least, is to help your child learn a new vocabulary word each day.  Increasing your child’s vocabulary increases their understanding.  Look for words in the books your child is reading.   When driving, look for words on signs.  When watching TV, pick out words that are being used.   Have your child watch or listen to a news broadcast and have them pick out a word they may not understand.  Write the words on file cards and review them often.  Use these words in sentences when you are talking with your child.   In short, talk to your child as often as possible.
 Parents are the most influential people in a child’s life during their years in school.  Show them you care by listening, talking to them, and showing an interest in them.