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helping your child succeed in school
< Starting Young

A Parent's Guide to Elementary School Success

There are many things parents can do to help their young children do well in elementary school.

What Can I Do at Home to Help My Child Succeed in School?
Turn daily activities into opportunities for learning.
  • Cook together.Your child can read the recipe and measure ingredients.
  • Do laundry. Your child can sort clothes by color, read washing instructions, measure detergent and time wash cycles.
  • Go grocery shopping. Your child can write shopping lists, compare prices, make change, and identify and classify food items.
  • Create a family photo album. Your child can sort pictures, write labels for them and even write small stories for some of the photos.
  • Organize the house. Your child can take on a small task like sorting items in a junk drawer, labeling them and arranging them alphabetically.
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What Else Can I Do at Home?
As your child's first teacher, you can help him or her succeed through many simple actions:

Spend time with your child
  • Ask your child about his or her day.
  • If you have several children, try to spend some time alone with each.
  • Take advantage of car time to talk and listen to your child.
  • Take walks or ride bikes together.
  • Find things to do as a family.
  • Watch a movie or play a game together at least one night a week.
  • Eat dinner together and talk about the day's events.
Help your child develop routines
  • Have regular homework or reading time.
  • Make sure your child has a regular bedtime and gets plenty of rest.
  • Give your child age-appropriate chores (see Kids and Chores for ideas).
  • Make sure your child has a nutritious breakfast before school.
Instill a love of reading in your child
  • Begin reading to your child at an early age.
  • Let your child see you read.
  • Limit TV viewing and video games.
  • Take your child to the library and help him or her find interesting books.
  • Provide your child with books or magazines at his or her reading level.
Create a study environment
  • Turn off the TV when your child is doing homework.
  • Make a study area with paper, pencils, pens, erasers, a dictionary and other materials your child uses for schoolwork.
  • Be ready to help your child with homework if needed.
  • Check your child's homework when it is finished.
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How Can I Work with The School?
Keep in touch with your child's school and teacher to make sure your child is getting the best education possible.

Talk to your child's teacher
  • Introduce yourself at the beginning of the school year.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Arrange a time to observe the teaching in your child's classroom, if possible.
  • Consider using email to communicate with your child's teacher.
  • Send the teacher a thank you note when you see your child has learned a new skill.
Talk to your child about schoolwork
  • Ask about homework and check to see that it's done.
  • Ask your child to show you his or her schoolwork and note the teacher's grades and comments.
  • Ask to see papers sent home by the school.
  • Show your child how reading, writing and math are an important part of everyday life.
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How Can I Help My Child Feel Good About Education?
Find reasons to praise your child every day
  • Help your child focus on his or her strengths
  • Make sure your child knows you think he or she is a valuable, capable person, and that you know he or she can succeed.
Have high expectations for learning and behavior, at home and at school
  • When you expect the best, your child will rise to those expectations.
  • Help your child take responsibility for his or her choices.
  • Teach your child how to set and achieve goals.
  • Be a good role model for getting work done before play.
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For More Information
  • For Parents, U.S. Department of Education.
  • No Child Left Behind, Parent section, Department of Education.
  • Order Helping Your Child Succeed in School by calling 1-877-433-7827. Both the publication and the call are free.
  • How Families Teach, Support, Learn, Make Decisions: Ways for families to help children do better in school RMC Research Corporation, 1996.
  • Get Involved! How Parents and Families Can Help Their Children Do Better in School, Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, 1998.
  • Get Involved in Your Child's Education and Learning in Your Home, Florida Center for Parent Involvement.
  • Helping Your Child Succeed in School, U.S. Department of Education, 1992, revised 2002.