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The ABCs of Raising a Successful Student

Whether your child is a boy or a girl, there are four golden rules when it comes to trying to raise a good student, said Susan L. Gabel, professor and director of the PhD program in the College of Educational Studies at Chapman University.

Foremost is simply setting a good example. “Be a good model to your children. Let them see you reading, writing and solving problems,” she said. “Demonstrate being a good student by showing them the ways you learn as an adult so they understand the importance of being a lifelong learner.”

Second, avoid the modern day tendency to over schedule your kids. The reverse is also true — make sure they have enough on their plate. Too many children end up watching TV or playing video games after school with too little socialization.

“Children need to be guided on how best to balance schoolwork with leisure activities so they can develop a healthy lifestyle,” Gabel said.

Gabel also believes that parents should share in their kids’ academic pursuits and help them develop their own goals and craft a plan on how to achieve them. This will help support children to the point where they can set and achieve goals without parental support.

Last, and probably the most difficult task of all, Gabel believes that parents should allow children the opportunity to make mistakes so they learn how to err gracefully and learn from their errors.

As children age, parents have less control over the choices they make and the consequences of these choices. It’s then that learned decision-making and problem-solving skills come into play.

Over time, rules change based on the developmental age of your child and the complexity of the situation in question. Parents should strive to set the appropriate balance between making too many or too few decisions for their children, as this can lead to teens or young adults who can't chart their own paths in life.

“Parents should find the balance between advice-giving and rule-making, as well as letting children make their own decisions without input from parents,” Gabel said.

Gabel also has advice on how parents can work with teachers.

As a rule, she said, it’s always good to ask the teacher for ideas on how best to deal with a child’s needs. It’s important to build a positive parent-teacher relationship — and a good way to start is by taking an active role in promoting the school curriculum and understanding the challenges teachers face.

“Volunteer to be room mother or father,” Gabel suggested. “Volunteer to bake goodies for parties or chaperone a field trip. Offer to read to students who are struggling. Help your own child with his/her homework.”

Most important of all: Parents should never make the mistake of expecting their children to be perfect.

“This can lead to disappointment and long-term emotional consequences for parents and children,” Gabel said.

—Julia Clerk, Brand Publishing Writer

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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