Talking to kids helps them do well in school

April 4, 2012


Kristin Rushowy



Want to help your kids do well in school? Talk to them about what they’re learning.

More than helping them with their homework, or turning off the television, sitting down to discuss what’s going on in class — and not simply asking “how was school?” — has been proven in study after study to have the biggest impact along with setting high expectations, developing good work habits and reading together, says People for Education.

The research and advocacy group has just released tipsheets and tool kits for parents, principals and teachers to get them thinking about how to best support students.

Annie Kidder, People for Education’s executive director, said most people think of parent involvement as getting more to come out to school council meetings or volunteering in the classroom — and, while those have value, it’s time to start looking at parent involvement in other ways.

“This is the first step — the evidence is there,” she said Monday. “We looked at 30 years of evidence, we looked at what made a difference.”

Naeem Siddiq, president of the Ontario Principals’ Council, said it’s important to have a climate in the home where kids feel comfortable talking — even with teens, although he acknowledged that can take some patience.

“Making a child tell you ‘here’s what I learned today’ and then talking about why it’s relevant” actually helps them retain that information, he added.

Principals and teachers can help get the conversation going, added Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, the group’s director of research.

From keeping libraries open before and after school to assigning homework where kids must interview their parents or other family members, everyone has a role to play, she added.

People for Education’s tip sheets are available in English, French, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Tamil.