I have a second grader. He is compassionate, creative, emotional, dramatic, empathetic, smart, stubborn, and extremely adorable.
Over the years, I have seen him thrive in school. Not because of the schools he has gone to, the teacher, the curriculum, or even how much we study with and help him with homework.
As all of those things play a huge role in the health of your child’s education, there is one factor that tops them all—paying attention and being involved as much as you can as a parent.
It’s easy and sometimes convenient to let your son be guided by his teachers, thinking they have it all under control. But subtracting yourself from the equation when it comes to their education you are, in the long run, hindering their success.
This doesn’t mean you should take your son out of school and start homeschooling—unless you feel called. It simply means that you need to be involved in the day to day knowledge of what your son is learning, as well as who his friends are; his teacher is, his activities are, and what he likes to do at school.
In a world that is seeing more teen suicides than ever before, it’s vital that you know your son isn’t taking on more than he can handle. The kids committing suicide these days are said to be A students, driven, motivated, and drowning in the feeling like they have to live up to what their parents, teachers, and piers all expect from them. Perfection.
Check out my post—5 Questions to Ask Your Child to Get Them to Open Up to You
If your son is going to a regular scheduled public or private school, they are spending more awake time with their teachers and piers, than with you—all the more reason to be more intentional, more involved, and more aware of what’s happening in their lives.
Helping Your Son Succeed in School
We’ve already gone over the what—being more involved—but what does that mean? How can you be more involved in the day to day so that you can help your son thrive in school?
Volunteer at his school
Private or public school—volunteer. This gains you access to what’s going on in his classroom—who his teachers are, who his friends are, how much he is taking on and how he’s handling that.
At the first parent-teacher conference for my sons school, the teacher said.
“I will believe 30% of what your kids say about you, if you believe 30% of what they say about me.”
Seems pretty fair, being as young kids love to stretch the truth to make it more exciting, or they innocently mix things up on what they’ve heard or experienced. Unless there are signs of abuse or bullying, I have realized that the information my son gives me is sometimes missing some key factors.
Bullied kids are also not very transparent because they are embarrassed or could be protecting someone.
This is why it’s SO important to have your own understanding of what’s going on at school—even if you come across as the helicopter mom. I don’t care how protective and overbearing I seem, my son’s safety is my first and foremost priority.
If he’s going to a friends house, I need to know the family. If he is going on a field trip, I need to know who’s driving. If he is involved in sports, I need to personally know the coach. It’s unfortunate that parents are forced to implement these things—I used to think the best of people—but I no longer do OR feel guilty about that.
And not knowing is exactly where bad things happen.
2. Be “that” mom
Going back to protecting your kids. You should never feel guilty or overbearing when it comes to your kids. Their safety is of utmost importance. Knowing where they are, who they are with, and what they are exposed to, should be first priority.
Just because someone is “christian” or he’s going to a “christian” school, doesn’t hinder me from continuing to be aware and protective.
Obviously, as your son matures to an appropriate age, freedom is granted, yet still monitored.
I believe that moms have an ingrained perception of people and situations that no one else has. You just know. It’s a God gifted discernment placed on our hearts to protect our children. Call it Mama Bear—whatever it is—it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
3. Be involved in his homework
I know this looks different for different ages, but helping your child succeed at school involves you helping him—yes, even with geometry. Showing him that you are there, ready to answer his questions will form bonds that are trusted in other situations of his life—who his friends are, whats going on at school, etc.
Children of young age—especially boys—struggle with receiving a task and seeing it through.
Instead of setting him up for failure by throwing him in the deep end to figure it out for himself—even though there is a time and a place for that—you can show him you support him, and that you will be there no matter what.
They need to be guided along the way, knowing you’ve got their back. If they constantly feel like they are disappointing you or letting you down with their grades, they will feel like a failure. When they feel like failures, they don’t feel worthy of love. When they don’t feel worthy...well, it doesn’t end well.
This brings me to another key point within a point - don’t expect perfect grades from your children. Don’t let them fall off the bus, but seriously. Whether or not they get an A or B in Math, will not make or break their education. If they are failing in a class—help them. Don’t degrade them.
Knowing that they are loved and accepted by you no matter what is on their progress report will mean the world to them.
Check out — What a Boy Needs From His Mom
4. Be there for him emotionally
Children who have healthy home lives, are more prone to succeed and get good grades than those who don’t.
Unfortunately, many children have to face unfortunate circumstances in their life:
Who is safe today? Will I get attention when I get home? Do my parents love me and care about me? Am I important to them? Is my dad going to beat me up tonight? Are my parents going to get divorced?
It’s these questions that consume the minds of some children; it’s no wonder they struggle in school.
Families are becoming more broken and less important in todays culture. Family meals, parents staying married, family time together, are all dwindling aspects of cultural home life. We are living in a society driven by self satisfaction, leaving behind togetherness and community.
The more isolated we get, the more lonely we feel, believing un-truths that we’re in this alone; that we have to figure it out by ourselves.
Isolation is another byproduct of social media that drives us to mask our struggles and pretend we have it all together. Being gods of our own pretend universe that, behind the scenes, is falling apart at the seems.
Nurturing your family’s home life, making sure it’s healthy and functioning, will be the BEST thing you can do for you son. Having a healthy relationship with your spouse is the number one priority for a functioning and healthy family.
If you put your son in a position that implies he is more important that your husband or wife, then you are doing them a great disservice. If they feel like they take the place of a spouse, their confusion on what their responsibilities are within the family will be detrimental.
As a child, the only thing they should feel responsible for, is being your son—loved, nurtured, and cared for by both parents equally.
5. Have screen time boundaries
My son loves video games. It was never something we introduced, or encouraged—but for some reason, he loves them. I am one of those moms who is an advocate of video games, within reason—let me explain.
If you have boundaries set in place for something your son loves, you can implement important lessons to teach them about certain aspects of their character, including self-control and gratitude, instead of taking it away because they become too obsessed.
For example - Giving my son screen time, with limits, will help him to practice self-control to know when to be done. He gets two hours of screen time per day on both Saturday and Sunday. None during the week. We had to play around a little to see what we felt was appropriate, but we landed on the fact that—because he enjoys them so much—being distracted by video games or movies instead of his studies, proved to be more harmful than good.
I talk more about legalism in parenting in the post mentioned above, but I’ll touch on it a little here as well.
When you don’t allow your son to experience something—obviously appropriate to his age—then you are keeping them from learning how to make healthy choices with the privileges they’ve been given.
Video games, for example, aren’t bad in and of themselves. But playing them too much is unproductive and can cause a lot of harm to a child. Allowing certain types of video games, such as over sexualized or violent games, is another example of going to extremes in the other direction.
Have tact when it comes to screen time. Don’t use them as your babysitter. Force your kids to do creative things first and foremost, which will in turn, cause them to thrive in school because their minds are being nourished and challenged.
In my opinion, there are educational and creative video game options for your boys that teach them how to use their problem solving skills. This will, in turn, benefit them with future technology and the way our world is heading—technologically speaking.
I hope you gained some awareness to ways you can help your child thrive in school. Parenting is not easy—it’s a challenging privilege. Be ever so careful with that privilege.