Children perform better in their schoolwork -- and in all aspects of their lives -- when parents provide support at home and take an active role in their educational experiences. Keep reading for tips on how to help your kids do their best.

Contributed by Steve Reifman

Parents are their children's first and most important teachers. In this critical role, parents have the greatest impact on their kids' academic, physical, social and moral development -- and the greatest impact on their motivation to learn. In my experience, parents are typically eager to do everything possible to contribute to their children's success in school, but they are not always shown how to do this. The following suggestions will help parents empower their kids to be the best they can be.

Be active

Commit yourselves to playing an active role in your child's development in school and activities. Frequently, many parents leave the responsibility for their child's education solely with the teacher. No matter how satisfied you may be with your child's teacher (and I hope you are very satisfied), this practice is unwise. Remain involved on a consistent basis, and feel free to ask questions and raise any concerns that you may have about your child's progress.

Hard work

Repeatedly express to your child how important it is to work hard, take life seriously, and achieve as much as possible. Explain all the benefits that come from learning, such as increased pride and confidence, greater life options and a greater ability to participate in community affairs and activities. You can never repeat this message too many times.

Quiet space

Provide your child with a quiet area to read and focus on their work and activities. If possible, supply a desk and place to keep all necessary items in an organized manner. With or without a desk, however, it is critical that your child have a consistent, well-lit place to focus that is free of distractions. Providing such an atmosphere will not only enable your child to have an easier time pursuing activities and work, but also it will send a clear message that you think doing their endeavors are important.

Encourage independence

Encourage your child to complete their activities as independently as possible. Offer help only when necessary. Giving too much assistance may cause your child to become too dependent on you while not giving enough may cause frustration. Strive to achieve the right balance so that your child exercises responsibility while you still remain actively involved in overseeing their efforts, both on daily activities and during long-term projects.

Healthy lifestyle

Be sure that your child gets enough sleep each night, eats a nutritious breakfast each morning and exercises as much as possible. Kids perform significantly better in their activities and are able to put forth consistent effort when they are well fed, well rested and fit. More is being written every year about the importance of exercise and its powerful impact on the brain. Exercising in the morning has been shown to improve children's focus and attention.

Following these suggestions will dramatically increase the likelihood that your kids will be successful in their pursuits. Specifically, when parents consistently emphasize these priorities, kids will be more responsible, organized and motivated. In addition, they will work with greater focus and greater purpose and be far more likely to maximize their considerable potential.

Changing kids lives>>Steve Reifman is a National Board Certified elementary school teacher in Santa Monica, California. He is also the acclaimed author of several books, including Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time and Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8, and the creator of the Chase Manning Mystery Series for kids 8-12. For tips and strategies on teaching the whole child, visit

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