The foundation for a child’s academic success starts at home. Kids who have parents who are involved in their education are more likely to stay in school, excel academically, and go on to college.
Unfortunately, many parents have little information about what their role in supporting class work and exposing their children to academically enriching experiences. Communication with your child’s school is key in providing that support. You not only have the right to meet regularly with your child’s school officials, but you have a parental responsibility to do just that. Remember, you are the best advocate your child has!
Importance of a College Education
A quality education is the best gift you can give to your child. It is widely understood that education is the main vehicle for achieving economic and social mobility in the United States.
However, to help your children achieve a life of greater possibilities you must set the bar high. In today’s highly competitive economy, it is no longer sufficient for your child to just obtain a high school degree. Consider the fact that adults with a high school diploma are twice as likely to be unemployed as those with a college diploma. And that a person with a four-year college degree will, on average, earn $26,000 more a year than someone with only a high school diploma. In other words, a college graduate will earn one million dollars more than a high school graduate over the course of his or her work life.
What You Can Do
Studies show that the more involved parents are in their children’s learning, the more their kids benefit academically. You can do a lot to help your child’s performance by talking with your kids about their school work, monitoring their school progress and working with teachers. Every time you make it a point to ask your kids about their homework, teachers, or class work - and you go and meet with a teacher or attend a school function, you reinforce the message that education is a top priority for you and your family. Below are some additional ways you can help your child succeed in school and attend college.
Find out what is expected of your child in each class and whether he or she is meeting those expectations. Ask school officials about state academic standards for each subject and where your child currently ranks (especially in reading and math) in relation to his or her classmates and other kids at his grade level across the state. Also, find out what your child needs to do to be “college ready.”
Engage Your Kids
Talk to your children repeatedly about their education. Make sure they understand the importance of a college education and what it means for them, for you and your entire family. Show them through your words and actions that you are there to support their education in every way possible.
Create a Strong Home Learning Environment
Create a space at home (away from the television and other distractions) for your kids to study and do their homework. Make sure that before they go out to play or do anything else that they dedicate sufficient time to studying. Monitor their homework and make sure they’re completing their class assignments.
Fight for Your School and Children’s Rights
Your child has a right to a quality education that prepares them to enroll and excel in college. And you have the right to demand that your kids are being provided the educational instruction they need to succeed. Meet with school officials as often as needed to ensure that your kids are getting the high- level education they deserve. Many teachers, counselors and principals will welcome your participation and support. Work with them to ensure that your child is progressing well in school. You can also work with other parents and community leaders to demand more resources, qualified teachers and stronger curricula for your child’s school.
Prepare Your Child for College
First and foremost, understand what your child needs to do and achieve to attend college. Set up an appointment with your child’s guidance counselor and teachers to talk with them about college. Find out if the school offers Advanced Placement or honors courses, and what your child needs to do to enroll in these classes. Make it clear to the counselor and his teachers that this is a priority for you. Be sure that your child’s school is preparing students for standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT and Regents exams.
The SAT, which is the test colleges use nationwide to determine your child’s education level, should be taken during the spring semester of your child’s junior year (11th grade) and the fall semester of your child’s final year of high school. If your child’s school does not offer adequate preparation for these tests, such as the PSAT (a practice test for the SAT usually taken in the 10th grade), look into programs outside of the school. Many community organizations provide this kind of support free of charge.
Also, encourage your children to participate in extra-curricular activities like sports, student clubs, or volunteering. Colleges look for well-rounded students.
Prepare Yourself and Family for College
A college education can be one of the single largest investments a family makes. You need to be prepared for the additional expenses and what that may mean for you and your family. However, the cost of college should NOT be a barrier for your child to enroll in college. All different kinds of financial assistance are available for you and your child, including loans, grants, scholarships, and self-help (i.e. work study). The investment in your child and his or her future is well worth it!