Saturday, September 25, 2010

Success in School

Today we have a guest post from teacher Nicoline Ambe Ndiforchu about ways parents can help their kids do well in school. I think her advice is excellent.

“Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them.”- Goethe

Every parent wants the best for their child. They want to make sure that their child has the right skills and tools to reach their highest potential, and excel. There are a myriad of things a parent can do to help their child excel. However, I think three things are particularly crucial if you want an excelling child.

1. Read to Your Child:

Reading to your child regularly brings them excitement, adventure and captures their imagination. It also builds literacy and language skills. Set aside 20 minutes a day to read aloud to your child from birth to 10 years old. If your child can already read, let her read to you and talk about the book. What is the story about? Why did a character act that way? What will he or she do next? Who was your favorite character and why? Did you like the ending of this story? Why? Children are excited to hear new stories and to learn how to interact with the text and pictures within the covers of a book. Early exposure to books and stories can create a lifelong love of reading and books. With consistency, your child will not be intimidated by large text in upper grades and college.

2. Provide a Quiet Environment:

A quiet and structured environment where children can focus and figure out their homework assignments is crucial for student success. A quiet home environment helps children to pay more attention and persevere with difficult tasks. It helps them build focus and independent thinking skills which will become invaluable in upper grades when the curriculum will be more complex. Assist your child to rely on their own mental resources so that even if you cannot help due to the complex nature of the content, your child would have developed the skills to effectively complete their own work independently. So turn of all cell phones, TVs and computers so your child can focus.

3. Encourage Independent Work:

Although it is important for parents to be involved in their child's homework, children should be left to carry the load of their own homework by themselves. You are not helping your child by solving their Math problems for them, writing their essays or doing their science project for them. If you are getting overly-involved in homework because of a concern that it is too difficult for your child, call or visit the child's teacher and share your concern. Eventually a child must take charge of her own learning. This means that you should "let go." In Middle school, high school or college, the content may be too difficult for you to help your child and you will want your child to be comfortable with sorting the information for themselves. If you have hitherto read to your child, provided a quiet environment and taught them independence, they should be able to do this work on their own without your assistance.


Think about these three ways to help your child excel in school, and try to integrate them into your parenting. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Visit the blog to learn more at or email

Thank you very much, Nicoline.


  1. Hello Janet:

    Thank you for allowing me to post as a guest on your blog. It's such an honor to collaborate with a great teacher like yourself. As you are well aware, the American educational system is leaving many children behind. I am a Special Education teacher with a mild to moderate specialization. I was motivated to start writing on this issue because 95% of the students I teach should not be a special education classroom. They are normal children with parents who don't know what to do to help their children. I put in an intense amount of effort and time to make sure that my students actually learn something, but this won't be effective without parental follow up at home. We now live in a global economy where the world is becoming more competitive. Are our kids ready? I say no. Parents and teachers must work together to improve their performance and help them excel.

    Thanks again for the opportunity!