Families as Partners in Education

Just for Parents

Ways Families Can Support Their Children's Education

Read together

Children who read at home with their families perform better in school. Show your kids how much you value reading by keeping good books, magazines, and newspapers in the house. Let them see you read. Take them on trips to the library and encourage them to get library cards. Let children read to you, and talk about the books. For example ask: What was the book about? Why did a character act that way? What will he or she do next? Bilingual families can read to children in their native language and ask them questions about the book, too.

Look for other ways to Help Your Child Become a Reader. Tell stories to your children about their families and their culture. Point out words to children wherever you go -- to the grocery, to the pharmacy, to the gas station, driving in the car. Encourage your children to write notes to grandparents and other relatives.

Know the grade level content standards for your child

Minnesota has developed grade level content standards for all grades to prepare them for college or careers.  For example, what reading and mathematics skills are your children expected to have by fourth grade? By eighth? What about history, science, the arts, geography, and other languages? Ask your child’s teacher how they are preforming on the state content standards/benchmarks and what you can do support your child’s learning at home.

Keep in touch with your child’s teachers

Parents cannot afford to wait for schools to tell them how children are doing. Families who stay informed about their children's progress at school have higher-achieving children. Keep informed, have several conversations with your child’s teachers about how they are doing. Parents can visit the school, attend conferences and talk with teachers via email, phone or in person. Get to know the names of your children's teachers, principals, and counselors.

Families can also work with schools to develop new ways to get more involved. Parents can establish a homework helpline; volunteer on the school improvement planning and decision-making committees, help create family resource centers, serve as mentors, and even help during recess or a school dance.

Express high expectations for children by enrolling them in challenging courses

You can communicate to children the importance of setting and meeting challenges in school. Tell children that working hard and stretching themselves is the only way for them to realize their full potential. Expect and encourage children to take tough academic courses like geometry, chemistry, computer technology, a second language, art, and advanced placement courses. Encourage children to do their best. Maintain high expectations. Research has shown children will rise to parents and the classroom teacher’s expectations.

Use media wisely

Media can be very influential in children’s lives and how they treat other people. Use media wisely to generate discussions about characters or situations which demonstrate respect and support the families’ values. Families can limit the amount of screen time and help children select educational programs or age-appropriate physical activities.

Establish a daily family routine with scheduled homework time

Studies show that successful students have parents who create and maintain family routines. Make sure your child goes to school every day. Establish a regular time for homework each afternoon or evening, set aside a quiet, well lit place, and encourage children to study. Routines generally include time performing chores, eating meals together, and going to bed at an established time.

Talk to your children and teenagers – and listen to them, too

Helping your child grow up healthy, caring and responsible at any age can be challenging. The Search Institute has a list of Developmental Assets tailored for specific age groups, in English and Spanish that give practical ways to encourage and support children’s success in school and life.

Talk directly to your children, especially your teenagers, about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the values you want them to have. Set a good example. And listen to what your children have to say.

Ask your children “How were school today?" But ask every day. That will send your children the clear message that their schoolwork is important to you and you expect them to learn.

Use community resources

Activities sponsored by community and religious organizations provide opportunities for children and other family members to engage in positive social and learning experiences. Family- oriented community resources may include health care services, housing assistance, adult education, family literacy, and employment counseling. Families can reinforce their children's learning by going to libraries, museums, free concerts, and cultural fairs together.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Children’s Education, Partnership of Family Involvement in Education, U.S. Department of Education