A key component for children doing well academically in elementary school is parental involvement and support. Here are 5 positive steps a parent can take in helping his or her child become a successful student.

1. Attend parent/teacher conferences and other parent nights at the school.

It’s a common understanding that children perform better in school when their parents are actively involved in their academic lives. It’s important for parents to be informed of their school’s procedures & policies, get to know their child’s teacher and discover the school’s expectations for their child. The starting point is to attend back-to-school night at your child’s school.

Furthermore, to stay informed it is important that parents attend parent/teacher conferences. These are typically held during progress reporting periods which may occur twice a year. The conferences are opportunities for implementing strategies to help your child reach his or her highest level of potential. Furthermore, consistent meetings with teachers let’s your child know that school is important and that there is an expectant level of accountability.

If parents feel that additional conferences are needed with teachers, principals, counselors or other staff, then they should not hesitate to request a meeting. Parents can request a meeting anytime during the school year.

2. Become familiar with the campus and school website.

Knowing the staff, teachers and physical layout of the campus enables you to carry a meaningful conversation with your child when discussing his or her school day. When parents take the time to know their child’s school it sends a message to the child that the parents view school as something important.

It’s also important that parents are familiar with the school’s website. Important information can be found such as school activities (calendar), contact information and testing dates.

3. Support homework expectations.

In addition to enhancing learning, homework helps your child develop important study skills for future academic success. It also helps children develop a good work ethic that will benefit them in other areas of their lives. By supporting homework expectations your child recognizes that homework assignments are important to you and therefore should be important to them.

It’s good for parents to participate in homework assignments. They should be available to answer questions, interpret homework assignments and review their child’s work. Do not do homework assignments for your child as this hinders a child’s ability to learn. Learning from mistakes is an important component of education.

Regarding study time, approximately 10 minutes per elementary grade level should be adequate. For example, if your child is in 3rd grade then a lot 30 minutes for homework. If your child is taking a significant longer time to complete an assignment then you may want to schedule a teacher conference.

4. Properly prepare your child for the school day.

Two of the most important ways you can prepare a child for the school day is through good nutrition and getting the proper amount of sleep. A nutritious breakfast is key to maintaining a child’s energy level during school. By providing a breakfast rich in whole grains, fiber & protein and low in sugar, you enhance a child’s ability to concentrate and boosts memory.

Sufficient sleep is important for a child to be alert throughout the school day. School-age children generally need between 10 and 12 hours sleep each night if they are to function at their best. Computers, video games and television should be limited as they negatively affect the minds of children and can cause interruptions in sleep patterns.

5. Teach your child organizational and study skills.

Being organized helps prevent your child from getting sidetracked from their studies. A key organizational component is the assignment book and homework folder. Parents should check these every night making sure their child is not falling behind. Setup a bin for papers that need to be signed and another bin for completed assignments and graded projects. Get rid of unneeded papers. As a parent, your example is a teaching tool for your child.

Teach your child to use a calendar and personal planner. This will offer them useful skills that they can use well into the future. In conjunction with the personal planner teach your child to make to-do lists. By checking off accomplished tasks children gain a sense of accomplishment and it keeps them on track. The to-do list can be as simple as 3 items: (1) put clothes away, (2) homework, and (3) household chore.

Teaching your child good study skills at an early age will pay huge dividends throughout his or her life. Studying for a test can be intimidating at first, but laying the right foundation for studying will minimize the anxiety.

To prevent children from being overwhelmed by taking a test, teach them how to break down the overall task into smaller more manageable chunks. Know when a test is scheduled and help your child study these smaller segments nights before the test and not the night before. This will lessen anxiety and is a more efficient pattern of study. Also, taking a break after 30-40 minutes of studying helps children process information better.

The overall goal for parents is to lay a good foundation for their child’s academic success. If you begin with these 5 steps, your children will have a great opportunity to meet their full potential.