Your Attitude Towards School And Your Child

Mother smiles at daughter who is doing homework.
Offering praise for hard work to your child will help instill a growth mindset. Willie B. Thomas via Getty Images

Do you know that you are the largest influence in your child's life?  While media and friends may have influence, parents remain the greatest influence of all.   

Children spend the majority of their time around their parents.  During this time, children are looking, watching, observing and getting to know their parent caregivers.  Children learn language from their parent talking to them.  Children learn how to walk and use the bathroom by watching their parents, and being instructed by their parents.


It really isn't a surprise, then, that the attitude and actions of a parent about school and education have tremendous influence on how their child views school.  According to a review of several years of educational research, parental attitude is one of the biggest influences of student academic success.  Here are some of the ways that parents show their children how important education is:

You Share Personal Experience About the Value of Education:  

According to the researchers of one of the largest studies ever on parental involvement, Keith Robinson and Angel Harris concluded that greater academic success in upper middle class children was due in part because these children live in communities where they are not only told the importance of education, children actually see and experience it during their interactions with adults.  

For example, if children see or hear their parents and friends of their parents telling stories from their college years, the children absorb the message that education is important and will be a fond part of their young adult life.


Interestingly, the researchers also found this positive effect at work in some families who are considered poor.  The researchers found that many Asian families, regardless of financial status, will still find ways to communicate the value of education to their children.  This means that even if you do not live in a rich neighborhood or spend your weekends hanging out with doctors and lawyers, you can still find ways to let your children know that education can bring financial and social benefits to your child.

Sharing your own experience about school is a great conversation starter that can get your child talking with you about their time at school.  Showing interest in your child's schooling shows your child that you care about them and their education.

You Are Actively Involved in Your Childs School.  

By being involved in your child's school, you are letting your actions speak louder than words can.  When your child sees you spending time at their school, or taking the time to respond to a teacher's email, you are showing your child by your example that you believe school and education are worthwhile.  These actions have an even greater effect, reaching beyond your own child.  When children see their classmates' parents or other community members coming to their school, it shows all of the children that adults in their community care about education.  


You Do Not Speak Negatively About Your Childs Teacher or School.  

Do you remember the old story about the parent who couldn't understand why their child was caught shoplifting?

 The parent had told the child many times that stealing was wrong. Yet, one day, the parent stole a small item from the grocery store, right in front of the child.  All of the parents' words were cancelled out, and the child learned by watching the parent that stealing is okay.  While this story might be a bit extreme, it underscores how easy it is to undo what you say when your own behavior in front of your child carries the opposite message.  When you badmouth your child's teacher or school in front of your child, you child learns that they do not need to respect or value the teacher and education.  

If you are frustrated with anything happening at your child's school, find a positive way to address the issue.  Teachers have very busy, often stressful jobs working with a variety of children with a range of needs.  Even the best teachers make mistakes sometimes.  If you think it is important for something at your child's school to change, find the time to calmly bring up the issue to your child's teacher to find out more and what can be done.

Harris, Angel L., and Keith Robinson. The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children's Education. N.p.: Harvard U Press, 2014. Print.

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