Most parents want their kids to be happy and healthy. Success looks different for every kid. Not all kids will rise to the top academically, and that’s okay!
Generally, kids are happiest when they are growing and learning to the best of their ability.
So how can you help your child succeed in school? How can you raise your child to be a successful student, regardless of their ability level?
I knew that if I consulted lots of great teachers, I would get a diversity of opinions about how parents can raise successful students. Please enjoy all the wisdom these teachers have to offer.
Bestselling Author, Speaker, and Teacher of the Year – Sonoma County
Dr. Catlin TUCKER
First, help your child get comfortable with productive struggle. When they hit a bump or get frustrated, what resources or strategies can they lean on? How might they think differently about the problem or task? Don’t swoop in and solve every problem. Instead, guide them in learning how to solve their own problems. This work is key to cultivating persistent, confident, and resilient learners capable of approaching new and novel tasks or challenges.
Second, make time for the things you value at home. For example, we have “family reading time” every single night. When my kids were young, I read stories to them. When they began reading independently, we would spend 30 minutes quietly reading together in our family room. Now that they are teens, I am back to reading some of my favorites novels to them. Each night as they prepare for bed, I read a chapter of whatever book we are currently reading. I’m proud that in an era of social media and hyper-connectedness that my children love to read.
Finally, emphasize the importance of balance. School is stressful, friendships are tricky, and balancing the different aspects of their lives is challenging. They need a support system that is steady to help them navigate the demands of their lives. Model what a healthy work-life balance looks like and support them when they are struggling with imbalance.
Former Award-Winning Teacher and Literacy Trainer, Freelance Writer, Children’s Book Expert, and Founder of Imagination Soup
I define great students as students who are kind and do their best. This doesn’t mean the student gets perfect grades but works hard and shows growth.
Parents can keep this in mind when thinking through reasonable and unreasonable expectations. Would they rather have a kid who is a bully or a kid who is kind? Would they rather have a child who works hard and grows than a child who is stressed out trying to be perfect?
Model kindness and hard work at home. Praise your children when you see them doing the same. That translates into the classroom.
Former Kindergarten Teacher, Homeschooler, and Founder of Forward with Fun
My top tips for parents to get their kids to be great students would be to make sure they’re excited about learning, but how do we do that?
So often learning and schoolwork is talked about as work or a non-preferred task: “You have to do your homework before you get to _____!” Especially with younger students, we need to introduce learning opportunities as something that they “get to do” instead of “have to do.”
When parents are the ones doing “learning time” with kids, be present and positive. Employ a growth mindset from a young age. This is the idea that with effort comes results. Kids are not just stuck if they’re not good at something. They can always change their ability based on the effort they put in (same goes for adults.)
Lastly, my personal teaching philosophy is to incorporate hands-on learning experiences as much as possible. Kids learn by doing, so if we can take the learning off the page and transform it into experiential, kids are more likely to view learning as fun and engaging. For example, alphabet flashcards are boring! Stick them on the wall and call out a letter or letter sound. Have your child SWAT the flashcard with the right letter. When kids view learning as something that connects them with their parent and allows them to be creative and playful, they’ll build a love of learning that lasts a lifetime!
Kids that love learning become great students.
High School Biology Teacher & Lifestyle Blogger at Life Between the Dishes
Kids have a difficult time being great students when education isn’t valued. So, parents, please lead by example. Parents sometimes project their negative experiences onto their kids making it difficult for the student to be motivated to do well in school. Show your kids that learning is important. Take a class, learn something new, read a book, anything to help your kids see that you never stop learning.
For a science teacher, it is very difficult to help students reach greatness when they have been so ingrained to not “believe” in scientific facts and to think everything is “fake” without researching the information themselves. Don’t teach your kids to disregard research just because it is difficult to understand. Do research, learn about things, then make educated arguments based on evidence. Think like scientists.
Teach your kids to be kind humans. It is so hard for students to learn when they are constantly thinking of the drama in their lives that is mostly self-imposed through social media. Life is not a reality show. Everything does not have to be TV worthy overreacting. The hate that I see hurts my heart and keeps these students held back from becoming better learners. Teach your kids kindness and lead by example.
If your child keeps getting in trouble at school, this post will help a LOT.
High School ELA and Social Studies Teacher and Founder of Behind the Classroom
My top 3 tips to parents and guardians about raising their kids to be great students would be to value education, communicate with their teachers, and read to them!
So often, at the high school level, we have students that get excused from school for reasons that don’t warrant a dismissal. This sends the message to the student (and teacher) that their education is not important, so it’s okay to not put a lot of effort into it. Of course, we recognize that life happens outside of school and sometimes there are things that arise. But we often see students that get excused (or even just not attend) about 3 days a month fall behind and usually get discouraged in catching up. Making learning a priority is such a huge way to set your student up for success!
In line with making learning important, communicating with teachers is extremely important. Recognizing that teachers are professionals and we always have what’s best for the students in mind is a great way to show that education is important and should be valued.
My final tip is to read to your student as often as you can. Many families stop after elementary school, but in middle and high school, the reading can change to current events, book studies as a family, and working on homework together (as it often has reading involved in some way)!
Online Teacher, Homeschooler, and Founder of Petal Resources
My ultimate top tip for parents in raising great students is to encourage your children’s inquisitive nature! This is the first step in ensuring your child has a thirst for learning. Encourage your children to ask questions about the world and ask questions yourself. Anything that you don’t know the answer to you find out together.
This leads me onto my next tip in raising a great student. Learning new things together shows your child that we don’t all know the answer to everything and shows them the all important process to learning new things: If your child knows “how” to learn then there will be no stopping them!
My final tip for raising a great student is to always show them the reason why behind we must learn something. Truly explain to your children the importance of what they are learning and the use it has to them in their lives and they will want to learn. And that’s all what being a great student is all about: wanting to learn!
1st Grade Teacher and Founder of Simply Well Balanced
The best advice I have for parents who hope to raise great students is to allow their children to experience natural consequences. With over 20 years of experience working with children, I can tell you that the most successful students learned from their challenges and failures early on and changed their behavior accordingly.
As parents, our first instinct is to swoop in and protect our children from failure and negative experiences. While you should always support and advocate for your child, there are too many children who always have their parents there to fix everything for them. In turn, they never learn how to solve their own problems or take ownership of their choices and actions.
Instead of rescuing your child, teach them how to gracefully accept the natural consequences of their actions. While it may be difficult, it often leads to your child being more responsible and self-sufficient in the long run, which is what produces successful adults.
Pre-K – 2nd Grade Teacher and Founder of Two Teacher Mamas
1. Let your kids play. The power of play is huge! When parents encourage open-ended play, they are helping their kids to develop skills like creativity, problem-solving, cooperation, and perseverance. These skills are essential to learning and working with others in elementary school and beyond.
2. Read to your children. Kids that develop a love of reading when they are young will use that skill to learn more as they grow. Reading a variety of books develops background knowledge, vocabulary, comprehension, and several other reading skills. Show your little ones that reading is important by letting them see you reading things you enjoy!
3. Model the character you want your kids to have. I think we all want our kiddos to be kind, curious, brave…the list goes on! The best way parents can instill these character traits in their kids is to model, model, model. A student who exhibits positive character traits helps make the classroom an enjoyable place for everyone to learn!
Preschool Teacher, Reading Specialist, and Founder of The Primary Parade
Read! Read! Read! My #1 tip for parents is to read to their children.
Reading opens up so many doors for little learners. It teaches them the basics of how to hold a book, turn pages, and track words. Furthermore, it teaches new vocabulary, comprehension concepts, envisioning skills, proper fluency and much more!
Reading is key!
Middle School English Teacher, Artist, and Founder of “Drawings Of…”
My top tip for raising great students is to teach them to see the three-dimensional humanity in everyone. So many problems in schools stem from demonizing people who actually have valid reasons for doing what they do, once you understand the context.
For example, you want to get your child to the point that the day a teacher refuses to accept late work, they understand: 1) The teacher is trying to instill positive habits of punctuality, and 2) The teacher has a family and life of their own which is harmed by doing late grading around the clock.
This humanizing aspect will also help in cultivating friendships across differences in peers.
High School Teacher and Founder of Happy Healthy Teacher
My best advice to raise a great student is to focus on a love of learning rather than achievement. You can do this by teaching your child that their achievement is not their identity. Students get so caught up that they are “smart,” “intelligent,” “an A grade student” that they shift their focus from the joy of learning – of struggling with problems, trying and failing, then trying and succeeding – to what grade they think they should get.
I see in high school that this can turn into either paralysis (where they’d rather not try at all than not meet their standards) or to a mentality that if they don’t master it without effort that the teacher or class is to blame. Parents can work on this through language promoting a growth mindset in both how they talk to their children and also how they they talk about their own learning.
Retired High School Teacher of 32 Years and Founder of Time Out for Teachers
Raising great students begins with developing a child’s natural curiosity.
This means answering the 573 million “Why?” questions, reading to them, exposing them to lots of different topics, cultures, and thoughts, taking an interest in what they want to learn when they want to learn it (even if it means reading the same dinosaur book over and over again), and taking the time to talk to them about what they are learning.
Learning because it’s fun and interesting will foster a love of learning that will follow them into school and continue into adulthood.
High School Math & Biology Teacher and Found of Scaffolded Math
Those small math moments come up at the most random times, but we always stop whatever we’re doing to talk about the numbers and the questions that my daughter has. There is an old chalkboard easel in our dining room that we found on the side of the road, and we use it to draw the math that comes up to help visualize it. Even when my daughter was young and we’d carry her up and down the stairs, we’d count each one, bouncing a bit to emphasize the 1-to-1 correlation. Math really is everywhere, and I believe that strong number sense, a comfort with numbers and a love of math all start when kids are really young.
Visual Arts Teacher, Children’s Mental Health Advocate, and Founder of Lightly Sketched
One of my top recommendations for parents, who are striving to raise great students, is to help their children adopt a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset involves raising them to believe in their own capabilities and helping them realize that with persistence and effort, they can achieve great things, even if it’s challenging. It’s important for students to be able to view failure as a stepping stone; an opportunity for learning and growth instead of a reflection of their character. Consistently praise their efforts, over intelligence and they will see the value in always trying their best.
Another tip I have is to incorporate moments of mindfulness into their daily regimen and opportunities to express their creativity on a regular basis. As a parent and an educator, I know how easy it is to get caught up in academics and performance, but it’s important to remember that we need to nurture the whole child. Helping children develop their creativity, social skills, and emotional health will increase their overall success within the classroom.
Former High School English Teacher & Lifestyle Blogger at a Hundred Affections
One of the most important attributes I’ve seen in great students over my teaching career is a strong work ethic. There will be many assignments kids do not enjoy, but the students who learn to be disciplined and muscle through are really building the skills they’ll need to be successful in life.
A student’s value is not in any way determined by his or her grades or class rank; however, if a student has tried his/her best and has worked hard, that is considered a success. Students who take shortcuts, are sloppy, or aren’t willing to put in effort are the ones who are short-changing their futures, even if they get the best grades.
Instilling discipline and encouraging hard work and perseverance are things that parents can do to see that their child will not only be a great student but a success in life.
Former High School Science Teacher, Preschool Teacher, Montessori School Director, and Founder of Trip Scholars
My top tip for raising great students is to nurture their curiosity and guide them in becoming self-directed, lifelong learners. Celebrate their childhood, but keep their future in mind, in this case by helping them learn how to learn. When they ask questions, help them decide the best way to figure it out. You’ll be amazed how far they can go with, “I don’t know, let’s find out!” Enjoy discovering things together and find ways to help kindle their sparks of interest.
Just about any interest your child has can inspire learning in a variety of areas. A love of cooking can inspire the need to learn math, biology, and history. A passion for video games can lead to learning to code, exploration of digital art, and mastering working in teams. When they discover that they need to learn it to reach their personal goals, they are motivated and will implement their new skills.
Keep your eyes open for their questions and passions and help them find resources to kindle lifelong learning.
If you need help teaching your children to have a growth mindset, try these printable positive affirmations for kids! Many of them are all about having confidence to work hard in school.
Elementary School Spanish Teacher, Attorney, and Founder of Fabulous Classroom
Kids often come to school with the belief that mistakes are bad. One of the most important things I try to instill in students, and that I hope parents continue to do at home, is that mistakes are quite the opposite! When children are encouraged to take risks (and undoubtedly make errors), this is how they genuinely learn, especially a foreign language. I always say to students that mistakes are proof you are trying, and that I would much rather they make 5 mistakes and truly understand a concept than play it safe so they don’t “look silly”.
I also always tell parents to make learning as much fun and part of normal daily life as possible. Even if you don’t know Spanish yourself, have your child describe colors, numbers, food, animals, or anything else you see at a store, park, or other location. The key is to get them speaking in the target language (and the bonus is that they are having an engaging conversation with you)!
Letting kids know early on that taking risks and making mistakes is good, and helping them practice what they’ve learned outside the classroom, will not only make them better language learners, it will make them love it!
Primary Teacher & Travel Blogger at Chiang Mai Family Guide
What makes a great student? Is it intrinsic motivation? It is being naturally curious about the world? Is it about being good at everything? The truth is it’s a difficult question to answer.
No one child fits into that perfect student mould. Yet are there things that you can do to make your child a better learner? Absolutely. Give them experiences in the real world. Let them explore. Let them fail and then talk about it after. Show them that you fail too sometimes and how you learn from it. Allow them to help out around the house and most importantly, let them get messy! This will fuel imagination and creativity in and out of school. Give them the real world experiences so that they can make connections easier.
Equally, teach your child manners and mindfulness of themselves and others. Create a mini-global citizen by not shying away from the real issues going on around you. An aware student is informed to contribute to class discussions. Also, take them places – attractions, new cities, new countries! Travel is a powerful tool to raising curious and engaged students.
Elementary School Teacher
My top tip for raising good students is to spend time with them. Children need to have conversations with their parents and have their parents read to them.
Daily conversations should occur about what happened at school as far as emotionally and academically. This can help children learn to navigate situations that they may not understand, as well as help the parent know where the child is having difficulty in school.
In addition, children should be read to daily. This will not only develop the child’s language, but more importantly his/her character.
Middle School Math Teacher and Founder of Aleka’s Get Together
Raising a great student is extremely difficult these days. As a teacher who teaches math, I get asked all the time by my students, “When are we going to need this?” It is a great question but something parents don’t answer for their kids early enough.
I think we all can agree that we have learned a ton of information over the course of our lives. A lot of that information is not used or needed by us on a daily basis. Some of the information we learn in school we never use again. But that is okay and is something we need to prepare our children to understand. Kids do not always know what they are going to be when they’re older, nor do they know where their lives will take them. But it is important that, whatever path they choose, they are more than prepared. Because in reality, no one really knows where they will end up in 10+ years.
Most of us end up changing career paths or going in an entirely different direction. So we should stress to our kids early on that education is indeed a privilege, and that everything we learn should be appreciated and valued.
I hope you enjoyed the perspective of these 21 teachers and business owners. If you’re wondering how to help your child succeed in school, I wanted to summarize some of the themes that cropped up over and over again:
- Teaching grit and cultivating a growth mindset to overcome challenges
- Modeling and fostering a love of learning from an early age
- Focusing on raising kids who are kind, respectful, and willing to look for goodness in other people
- Reading and communicating with your child as much as possible
- Encouraging risk-taking and allowing your child to fail-forward
- Learning through play and exploration, and through the cultivation of their interests