Supporting School Success

Every child’s needs are different, but by supporting academic success at home, you’ll be helping your child succeed in school—and life! Consider these tips.

  • Instill good study habits,
  • Instill a love for reading,
  • Instill a commitment to learning.

Everyday Tips

  • Start at Home: School success starts at home. Create a homework center, a specific area in the house (such as an office desk or the kitchen table) where your child can do homework each evening. Make sure that it’s stocked with enough supplies, such as pencils, erasers, paper, a folder or two, and a calculator.
  • Do: Sit with your kids when they’re doing homework. If you have work you need to do for your job, bills to pay, or some other project, do it while your child is doing her homework, and let her know that even adults have homework. Model what it takes for school success by staying focused and not leaving until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
  • Encourage Critical Thinking: Help your child with his homework, but make sure that you’re not doing it for him. Your role is to help him succeed in school by asking questions, giving examples, and assisting him in learning concepts, not giving him the answers. Critical thinking skills are crucial for doing well in school at every age.
  • Stay Involved: Work with high school counselors, teachers that know your child well, and your teenager to create an academic schedule from ninth to twelfth grade that challenges her and deepens her school success skills. Do: Keep your teenager growing (without boring or placing too much pressure on her) so that she gradually masters skills that will be useful for doing well in school and beyond. After each semester, talk with your teen and make necessary adjustments to the schedule to make sure that it is still appropriate.

[Related Article: School Involvement – Without Going to School!? 10 Clever Ways Busy Parents Can Stay Involved]

[Related Article: Reach Out! Tips for Building a Strong, Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship]

  • Interests are Important: Encourage your kids to find books that excite them. Don’t overlook graphic novels, comic books, magazines, or other types of reading that may not interest you, but interests them. The point is to keep them reading, which promotes school success. Talk to them about what they’re reading on their own and in class, and ask which books they like and what they’re learning.
  • 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 saving for college: There are many ways to make college affordable. Even the smallest savings can add up if set aside regularly over a long period of time.
  • Complete a FAFSA (financial aid) form to get an estimate of the financial aid your child might receive. Each year more than $236 billion in financial aid is available to help students and their families pay for college, yet millions of students leave this money on the table because they do not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To help students navigate this complicated form, the Capital One Foundation has partnered with the Center for New York City Affairs, a policy institute based at The New School, to develop the FAFSA: The How-to Guide for High School Students (and the Adults Who Help Them). Get it here.

[Related Article: Four Reality Checks for Sending Your Child to College]
[Related Article: Tips for Teaching Money Management]



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.