How can parents best help their children achieve good grades? Parents have been criticised recently for how they go about this. Respected educator Sir Anthony Seldon labelled them as ‘clueless narcissists’. The BBC recently reported how controlling parents can harm their child's mental health, and the Secret Teacher in The Guardian said they were responsible for creating a suffocating pressurised environment.
What Can Parents Do to Help?
Good news for teachers, parents and students arrived recently with the publication of this meta-analysis. This study examined the research on what are the most effective things parents can do to help their child get the highest grades they can. We summarise the four main findings here:
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. For more information about the effect of high expectations, read our previous blog here.
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. Strategies to help improve communication include being approachable, asking open ended questions and listening more than talking.
Good Reading Habits – Parents are encouraged to read frequently and regularly with their child. Parents can help their child develop good reading habits by reading with them as part of a night-time routine, especially books that capture their attention and imagination.
Homework rules – Have 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 later in life. Given that students often do their homework with their mobile phones in front of them, which can have a range of negative consequences, having a clear structure and set of rules can help.
It’s not easy being a parent. It’s understandable that parents want the best for their child, but sometimes they don’t know which strategies work best. It is interesting to note that the above study found that physically supervising their child’s homework had little impact. The authors do note that other studies show a range of impact for supervising homework (including both positive and negative). Perhaps even further research is needed on this.
What does seem clear is how having high aspirations, clear communication, good reading habits and clear homework rules can help students achieve success at school.
For even more info take a look at our page How to Develop a Growth Mindset, where you'll find links to blogs and research.