Helping your kids improve their grades: Strategies for parents

The time your kids have been dreading for weeks has finally arrived – the start of the fall semester at school. And while you're surely happy to get some rest after a long summer of camping trips, sports games and endless trips to the pool, it's going to be a just little sad waving goodbye to your little ones after several months spent making wonderful memories. Still, the new school year is important for your kids' education and future, and it's crucial to get them back into the groove of homework and early bedtimes as quickly as possible.

If you've received word, however, that your children are experiencing difficulties in certain subjects at school – perhaps their grades are below where they should be – you may be wondering what you can do to help them at home. Thankfully there are a number of strategies you can use to help your kids improve in the classroom. While there is no one approach that will work for every child, you'll likely find that one or more of the following tips is helpful at not only improving their grades, but also altering their attitude to school work.

Eager to learn more? Read on!

1. Encourage a good night's sleep
Do your children get enough sleep at night? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that school children between the ages of six and 12, ideally need up to 12 hours of sleep each night, with preschool children needing around 13 hours. Teenagers can function on a little less sleep, but up to 10 hours a night is still advisable. If your child is not meeting these thresholds, it's likely fatigue could be playing a role in their academic troubles. As iMom stressed, a good night's sleep often precedes a productive and successful day in the classroom, so make sure your kids are tucked up in bed at a reasonable hour!

2. Keep an eye on homework
As detailed by Very Well, it can be helpful to check in with your kids from time to time and look at their homework assignments to see if you can spot any major issues yourself, or identify areas where you can help. This is likely easier with younger children who may need your help with their homework regardless. It may be a harder strategy with your older kids or teenagers, who might not want mom or dad interfering. Still, ask if you can help them with anything, and perhaps work with them to create a study plan. In essence, the more emphasis you place on homework, the more likely it is that your children will see their grades improve.

3. Make sure your kids have all they need
As a parent it's up to you to equip your kids with the tools needed for success in the classroom, Excellence in Orthodontics stated. There are many ways to prepare your children for a fruitful school year, from buying all the necessary supplies – paper, pens, books, etc. – to helping them build a routine that is most conducive to success. For example, you could consider laying down some ground rules for a weeknight schedule – homework for a couple of hours after school, then dinner, then relaxation time followed by bed is a good formula to follow. The source also advised that parents look for a private tutor for kids who are really struggling in certain subjects. Sometimes this extra help from a professional can make a world of difference. 

4. Keep distractions to a minimum
In some cases the main reason for poor grades has nothing to do with intellectual ability, but everything to do with distracting influences – the television, smartphones, desktop internet access. We live in an age of constant media stimulation, and it has the potential to be highly damaging for your kid's school career, School Family asserted. Consider limiting all electronics to certain times of the evening, after homework has been completed. And while your kids may need the internet for their homework, there are ways to filter out distracting sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

Helping your kids with their homework can make a positive difference. Helping your kids with their homework can make a positive difference.

5. Keep in touch with teachers
Maintaining regular contact with your kids' teachers is another effective way to help them. As explained by Very Well, teachers will likely be able to provide the most insight into your child's situation, outlining areas that need improvement and perhaps suggesting ways you can help. Don't be afraid to reach out on a routine basis, and be sure to attend all parent-teachers conferences. It's also helpful to set up additional meetings if you feel further discussion is warranted. If you believe that the teachers in question isn't doing enough to help your child, consider reaching out to the school – perhaps the principal or guidance counselor – to articulate your concerns.

6. Consider a rewards program for better grades
Sometimes rewards for high performance can be an effective way to motivate your kids to work harder and take their school work more seriously, an article from Empowering Parents explained. While it is important not to punish children for poor performance – this is bad for their self-esteem and morale – setting goals and providing treats for a job well done is certainly a fruitful approach. The rewards don't have to be big – an extra hour of television at night perhaps, or a little more pocket money can suffice. 

7. Have a conversation with your child
As noted by Very Well, sometimes a drop in academic performance isn't necessarily related to a struggle with the academic material. Rather, it could well be a consequence of something else going in your child's life – perhaps they are having problems with a friend or are being bullied, or maybe they are feeling insecure as they negotiate the ups and downs of puberty. To rule out any of these external factors, sit down with your child and initiate an open and honest dialog. Ask if anything is bothering him or her and stress that you are there to provide help and support at all times.