Children who read at home with their parents perform better in school. Show your kids how much you value reading by keeping good books, magazines, and newspapers in an easy to access place within your home. 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 with them. What was the book about? Why did a character act that way? What will he or she do next? Look for other ways to teach children the magic of language, words, and stories. Tell stories to your children about their families and their culture. Point out words to children wherever you go --- the grocery store, the pharmacy, the gas station. Encourage your children to write notes to grandparents and other relatives.
Use TV wisely
Academic achievement drops sharply for children who watch more than 10 hours of television a week, or an average of more than two hours per day. Parents can limit both the amount of viewing time and the type of programs watched, helping their children select programs with educational value. Parents can also watch and discuss the shows with their kids; this will help children understand how stories are structured, plots developed, and characters interact and communicate.
Establish a daily family routine with scheduled homework time
Studies show that successful students have parents who create and maintain family-based 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. Helpful and positive routines may center on time for performing chores, eating meals together, spending a quiet moment together before bedtime, and having an established bed-time. "The American family is the rock on which a solid education can be built. I have seen examples all over this nation where two-parent families, single parents, stepparents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are providing strong family support for their children to learn. If families teach the love of learning, it can make all the difference in the world to their children." Richard W. Riley U.S. Secretary of Education
Talk to your children and teenagers -- and listen to them, too
Talk directly to your children, especially your teenagers, about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the personal values you want them to have. Set a good example. And listen to what your children have to say. Such personal talks, however uncomfortable they may make you feel, can help them make positive, safe, enriching choices.
Express high expectations for children by enrolling them in challenging courses
You can communicate with your children about the importance of setting and meeting challenges in school. Tell your children that working hard and stretching their minds is the way for them to realize their full potential. Expect and encourage your children to take tough academic courses like geometry, chemistry, computer technology, a second language, art, and advanced occupational courses. Make sure they are not comfortable settling for doing less than their best.
Find out whether your school has high standards
Your school should have clear, challenging standards for what students should know. For example, what reading, writing and math skills is your child expected to have by fourth grade? By eighth and twelfth grades? What about history, science, the arts, geography, and other languages? Are responsibility and hard work recognized? If your school doesn’t have high standards, join with teachers, principals, and other parents to establish benchmarks and set these standards. Feel good about getting involved!
Keep in touch with the school
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 often have higher-achieving children. To keep informed, parents can visit the school or talk with teachers on the telephone. Get to know the names of your children’s teachers, principals, and counselors. Parents can also work with schools to develop new ways to get more involved. Families can establish a homework hotline, volunteer on school planning and decision-making committees, help create family resource centers, serve as mentors, and even help patrol school grounds.