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5 ways parents can help their child thrive at school

5 ways parents can help their child thrive at school

3 min read
  • Parents & guardians

We have all heard the phrase “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. But is it true?

A recent study found that there is some truth in this, with our work ethic being influenced by our relationship with our parents. But how else can parents help their child thrive at school?

This question has puzzled parents and intrigued researchers for many years. Fortunately, due to some brilliant research, we can suggest 5 ways parents can help their children thrive:

The most comprehensive review of parenting behaviour

A recent review of 37 studies, involving over 80,000 students and their families found that the best thing that parents can do to help their children improve their grades were:

Have high academic expectations

Out of all the things parents can do, having high aspirations and expectations of your child has the biggest impact on their grades. Parental expectations include how important school is, their attitude towards teachers, and the value of education. Find out more on aspirations vs expectations.

Regular communication

This includes developing and maintaining communication with children about their school life. This helps parents nip any potential problems in the bud before they manifest into bigger issues. If the communication includes open ended questions, this has been found to be particularly effective in some situations.

Good reading habits

This involved reading frequently and regularly with their child. This includes reading to them and encouraging them to read alongside them as well.

Homework rules

Having clear rules to deal with how they divide their homework and leisure time. Explaining why these rules are in place can help them eventually make better decisions regarding their independent study time later in their school career.

Maximise your students’ learning and achievement by getting parents & guardians involved in their mindset development.

PISA well-being results

Doing well at school isn’t all about grades (though it is undeniably a huge part, and rightly so). However, well-being and life satisfaction also matter. The PISA reports gather, analyse and compare data from student performance all around the world. Recently, they found that students were most likely to report high levels of satisfaction if their parents:

  • Spent time talking to them;
  • Ate dinner with them around the family table;
  • Discussed with them how they were doing at school.

Furthermore, this report also found that students who spent time talking with their parents were two-thirds of a school year ahead in subjects such as science.

How to react to success and failure

A recent study found that how parents react to failure has a big influence on their child’s mindset. They found that those who viewed failure as an opportunity to learn and improve were more likely to have children with a growth mindset, whereas those who reacted to failures as a source of shame and negativity were more likely to have children with a fixed mindset. 

Likewise, how parents react to success can also influence how their child subsequently thinks, feels and behaves. One study found that parents who praise their child’s processes and efforts following a success, instead of their natural ability, were more likely to have children who had a growth mindset when measured several years later.

These two studies clearly show that how we respond to our children’s behaviours has a significant impact. Leading researchers found that in order to nurture resilience, an environment must be both challenging (where setbacks may occur) and also supportive (where encouragement and advice is available). Striking the right balance between both will help students develop their resilience

Sleep right, think right

Simply put, sleep plays a huge role in a child’s success. Getting a good night’s sleep has been found to help students improve their mood, ability to deal with stress, creativity, concentration and memory. However, many students continue to make many sleep mistakes. Parents can help their children by having a clear understanding of the importance of sleep and fostering helpful consistent bedtime routines may be the biggest thing that parents can do to help their children thrive at school.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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