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Ask your child to imagine a hobby or activity he or she might enjoy now and as an adult. Help your child take steps to start doing it (if they’re not already).
Share stories with your kids about what life was like for you as a young person (dating, school, family, friendships, etc.). Talking about these things may show that you have an understanding of what life is like for them.
Schedule a monthly family movie night. Take turns picking films, and allow plenty of time for discussion afterward.
Look for opportunities—in the car, while doing chores together, or at the dinner table—to ask questions about your child’s classes and teachers.
Plan and prepare a meal with one of your children. Invite your child’s friend to join you.
If your child is reluctant to talk about school, try talking to her or his teacher; if there is a problem in the classroom, your child’s teacher can fill you in on the details.
Ask your children and their friends to select a service project. Schedule an event where they can all volunteer together.
Ask what your child thinks of school—some have a strong attachment, while others feel uncomfortable or unattached. Ask your son or daughter which part of school is his or her favorite. (Don’t be surprised if your children answer “recess” or “lunch.”)
Find out if there is another adult who has connected well with your own child. Have they bonded over sports? Do they like the same music? If you can afford it, buy them tickets to attend an event together.
Be ready for unexpected moments of connection. When your child or another young person starts to talk about something personal, drop everything to pay attention.
Bring your child and one of his or her friends to a museum, concert, or another cultural event that welcomes children.
Remain firm about your expectations as your kids grow, but expect bumps along the way. As kids change schools, go through puberty, and cope with difficulty, their enthusiasm for school and doing well can wane. Be patient but continue to have high expectations.
Think of your teenager as an adult in training. Teach him or her practical things like how to change a tire, prepare a meal, or create a monthly budget.
Give children freedom to make their own choices (as appropriate for their age) so that they feel they have some control over their lives.
Set clear expectations about how you want your child to do in school. This isn’t about putting undue pressure on your child. Instead, it’s about expecting your child to do as well as he or she can.
Talk about the value of education. Even if school isn’t always easy, that doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Emphasize how working hard at school will help your kids succeed.
When you teach your children about the difference between right and wrong, help them learn to listen to their conscience.
Remember intelligence is not fixed: Effort and persistence when facing challenges are important characteristics of a successful student. Tell your child, “smart is not what you are; smart is what you work to become.”
Start family traditions and rituals such as family service projects, game nights, seasonal outings, or family meetings.
When kids have a good start to the school year and settle in well to school, they tend to be more interested in school and doing their best. Help your kids get a good start by being an involved parent.