School Success: An Introduction

No one kid is alike—if you have more than one child, you know this firsthand. Some kids love school and everything about it—challenging homework assignments, after-school activities, and even taking tests. Others may struggle with schoolwork, while some are capable of earning higher grades but just don’t like school itself.

You have probably heard some variation of “But when will I ever use this?” from your kids, most likely while helping them with a particularly difficult or frustrating homework assignment. And your child may be right—it’s very possible that mastering long division by hand isn’t a necessary life skill—but you know how valuable it is for your child to put in a reasonable effort, care about grades, and feel a connection to school.

Not only is it important to help your child connect to school for the sake of education itself, it’s helpful for you and your child to understand how the level of education reached translates to wages earned once your child enters the adult workforce.

Why College Matters

In today’s world, a college degree is becoming a requirement for career-track jobs that pay a living wage and provide opportunity for promotion.College isn’t limited to four-year colleges, however. At community and technical colleges, a student can earn a two-year associate degree or obtain a certificate in a specialized field to prepare for a career.

[Related Article: Education and Earning Potential: What Your Kids Should Know]

Preparing Kids for College, Work, and Life

Parents, grandparents, and other caring adults play a critical role in a child’s education. It’s common for parents to assume that our children’s education is the sole responsibility of schools, but research has shown that education is most effective when parents and schools work together. Yet, it can be overwhelming and confusing for parents to know what they can do to help their child be college-ready. By practicing a few simple steps for preparing your kids for school, and doing what you can to encourage learning outside of school, you’ll be helping your child succeed in school—and in life!

[Related: Webinar: Preparing Kids for College, Work, and Life: Why Parents Matter When It Comes to College Readiness]

Overcoming Obstacles

Your child may be one of those students who can’t get enough of school and already sees the value of an education. But there are plenty of students who don’t feel engaged at school, for any number of reasons. If your child seems to struggle with homework, drags her feet in the morning and resists leaving for school, or often complains about teachers or classmates, find out why.

Get to the bottom of your child’s negative feelings about school and see what you can do to help. Through talking with your child you may learn that her classes are moving too slowly for her, or much too fast. Maybe there is some bullying going on, or she doesn’t feel heard by her teacher.

[Related Article: What to Do When Your Child Says, “I HATE School!”]

Get tips for supporting academic success >>

Once you know what is at the root of the problem you can tackle it head-on. Maybe your child will become more engaged in school if he joins a club, or if he starts seeing a tutor. Or maybe she will care more about what happens at school if she has a direct hand in it through the student council or a fundraising campaign. Whatever it is, do your best to improve your child’s relationship with school. Getting involved in your child’s school can make a difference, too, so see what volunteer opportunities there are that suit your interests and schedule.



1. A Parent’s Guide to College and Career Readiness, University of Minnesota College Readiness Consortium, 2013.

2. Developmental Assets: A Profile of Your Youth (Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute, 2005), 2003 weighted aggregate dataset, unpublished report.

3. Education and Earning Potential, ParentFurther, 2013.




GREAT information. As we are preparing for our youngest to go to “School” and ride the big bus, this was very helpful.


Very informative!


This is a really big issue getting parents to see the big picture of staying involved in their child’s education! Making it apart of their daily or weekly routine to see just what their kids are learning in school and how they are learning and communicating what they have learned. The teacher is to teach and parents are to make sure their child is learning what is being taught. That is a huge job for parent involvement.


you need a bit more information.

Success in school is imperative if you want your child to succeed in life and work. To succeed in school, reading is the most important tool you can give your child:

What suggestions do you have for the parents who have done everything to involve their gifted child who held all A’s until 9th grade and now refuses to complete assignments just because he is only interested in completing what he wishes to complete? Counselors, IEP, and other supports are in place and are unsuccessful…..He is involved in orchestra, baseball and theatre. He volunteers time at church and mission trips. However, could care less about his grades….no motiviation. Procrastinates and simply chooses to get a 100% one day and a zero the next…..