Success In School Depends On Life Outside School

Diane Sasser, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  7/13/2007 11:14:29 PM

2007 Back-to-School News (Distributed 07/13/07)

Parents want to see their children succeed in school. Believe it or not, school success often depends on what happens outside of school, according to LSU AgCenter family and child development professor Dr. Diane Sasser.

As the school year approaches, parents can help ensure school success by being involved in their children’s lives outside of school. Children whose parents play an active role in their lives are more likely to perform well in school and on standardized tests.

Even simple things we think won’t mean much, like taking walks with your children and eating meals together, and otherwise just spending time together can make a difference..

Turn off the television and talk with them about school and other issues important to them. But don’t just ask, "What happened at school today?" out of the clear blue. Make sure you have had dialog long before this. And asking broad questions will only get you answers like, "Nothing."

Ask for specifics after asking, "How was your day?" When this is followed by "OK," you will want to ask, "What was the best part of your day today?" Then you will have started a conversation.

Get to know teachers and others at you child’s school. Establishing positive relationships helps you and your child get through any difficult times. Visit the school and get involved in parent-teacher organizations. Attend parents’ night and parent-teacher conferences. Voice your concerns with your child’s teacher if the youth is having problems – but do so in a positive way. Remember that preteens and teens embarrass easily, so make your inquiries diplomatically.

Early in a child’s school career, parents should play an active role in understanding their children’s homework and helping them establish good work habits that will see them through school. Check your child’s backpack or school bag for assignments and other communication from teachers. Understand what he or she is working on and help set up an appropriate work environment.

Parents should not be the ones who do the homework, however. By the time they reach middle school, children should be able to do homework independently.

For effective parental involvement to ensure student success, Sasser advises the following:

– Talk with your child and set clear expectations. Say you expect him or her to work hard in school and treat the teachers, school staff and other students with respect.

– Get a copy of the school's student handbook. Go over it with your child to understand the school's standards for behavior and consequences for misbehavior.

– Attend school information sessions, orientation and open house events. This shows teachers and school administrators that your child's education is important to you and that you value the work they do and contributions they make in your child's life. It also lets your child know that education is important to you.

– Be sure the child has adequate supplies and space to study.

– Schedule time at home for daily practice, study and review of what was learned at school.

– Have your child prepare for class by doing homework daily and making up all work missed because of absences.

– Check notebooks for organization and to see dates of last recordings and when assignments are due. If empty or disorganized, ask questions and offer assistance.

– Help review and study for quizzes and tests.

– Assist with special projects, but don’t do the project yourself. Ask about it from time to time and help the child make a plan and stay on track.

– Take an interest in your child's schoolwork and other activities.

– Volunteer at the school or at least visit the school during the year.

– Attend parent-teacher conferences, regular school functions and parent association meetings. Ask questions and be an advocate for your child.

– If there is a problem, don't assume it is the child's problem or that the child is always right. Use good skills to seek information first and work with your child and school to develop an action plan. Contact the school immediately when you get a report on behavior or attendance.

– Avoid keeping your child out of school if possible.

– Talk with your child and ask to see assignments, test papers and report cards (know when report cards are issued for your child's school).

– Remember that children learn differently. Try to pay attention and learn what works best for your child.

For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Diane D. Sasser (225) 578-4448, or
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939, or

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