6 Ways Parents Can Make Their Children Better Students

Parents helping with homework

6 Ways Parents Can Make Their Children Better Students

Are you a parent who has recently sought out tutoring for your child? If so, Lindsay Zoeller has a suggestion: You might want to seek out help for yourself, too.

A long-time tutor with Educational Endeavors, Zoeller has recently launched a new business offering coaching for parents to give them the strategies and tools needed to best help their kids.

When Zoeller works with parents, she usually spends the initial session outlining what the challenges are and then envisioning what an ideal scenario would look like for that family. From there, Zoeller gives parents suggestions on ways they can help improve their children’s performance and also bring more peace and harmony to the household.

“In my experience, many of the parents didn’t know how to help their children and they felt kind of powerless,” Zoeller says. “My hope is to work with parents so they can learn some habits and develop some structures to have long-term success.”

For example, Zoeller says if a student is struggling in English, it may not have anything to do with her reading comprehension. Instead, the underlying problem may be that she isn’t managing her time effectively and ends up writing her papers at the last minute — a problem parents can do something about.

Here are six tips that Zoeller says parents should follow to help their children be better students:

  1. Set priorities about activities
    One of the biggest things that affects students’ performance in school is their ability to get their homework and studying done on time. If students are involved in too many extracurricular activities, they may not have the time they need to really study properly, or they may be doing their homework or writing papers late at night when they’re too tired to think clearly and perform well.

    This may mean that parents and kids need to discuss their values and decide whether some activities need to go.

    “I think it’s important for families to look at their priorities and realize that you cannot excel at everything because everything requires time,” Zoeller says.
  2. Look at your time management, too
    There’s an old adage that “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.” Often, parents are so busy that they’re running on fumes by the end of the day, and they can get impatient with their kids. That’s why Zoeller says it’s essential that parents make self-care a priority, and perhaps ask themselves where they, too, can cut back on their commitments to make themselves less stressed.“I’m a huge proponent of filling up your cup first,” Zoeller says. “If you’re not showing up as your best self, you’re not doing anyone any favors.”
  3. Have kids do homework right after school
    Zoeller says another big mistake parents make is letting kids take a break after school to watch TV and play video games, and then not having them do homework until after dinner. Unfortunately, by this time, students (and parents) are usually more tired and cranky, so nobody is functioning at their best. “There’s a lot of fighting late at night over homework, and that’s unnecessary,” Zoeller says. Instead, encourage your kids to have a quick snack after school and then get their homework done right away.
  4. Support your kids in doing their homework, but don’t do it for them
    Do you ever check your child’s homework and make them re-do all of the answers they got wrong? You could be hurting more than you’re helping. Zoeller says it’s better for teachers to get homework back that has errors in it so they know what the student is struggling with.

    Instead, Zoeller recommends telling children to come to you if they needs help, and then providing guidance that will help them figure the answers out for themselves. For example, you might ask them, “Where could you go to find out how to do this?” or “Who could you talk to for help with this?”

    Also, for younger children, Zoeller says it’s a good idea to have your child read the instructions to you so he fully understands what to do before he starts his homework.
  5. Stop running interference with the teacher
    Zoeller is a big believer that parents should never do for their children what children can do for themselves. That means if a student has a question about the instructions or deadline for an assignment, or wants to inquire about a grade she received, it’s the student’s job to email the teacher — not yours.

    “Kids should learn how to advocate for themselves,” Zoeller says. “By the time a student is in middle school, they have an email address and they know how to get in touch with a teacher.”
  6. Let go of a specific outcome for your kids’ future
    Another cause of tension between parents and children can be that children don’t have the same goals for themselves that their parents have for them. You may think your child should be getting better grades to get into a selective enrollment high school or a top-tier university, but if your child is more interested in art, you may need to drop your agenda. The more you try to force your child to do something he or she isn’t interested in, the more power struggles you’re going to get into.

    “What I like to encourage from parents is to let students be who they are in terms of what they decide to pursue,” Zoeller says. “Success looks different to different people.”

Zoeller says it’s important to remember that changing our parenting skills takes time, but the new approach will make a big difference if you stick to it. That’s why she recommends that her coaching clients call her once a week for at least three months. “It’s like personal training,” she says. “It takes a while to get in shape.”

For more information on Zoeller’s parenting coaching services, visit http://lindsayz.com.

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