Life Times Newsletter

Winter 2010
Vol. 12, No. 1


Helping our children succeed in school


Rosilee Trotta, MSW, LCSW
Urban Youth & Family Specialist

There are two things that parents want most for children:  happiness and success. Of course we want them to be good citizens, practice OUR values, and a myriad of other things, but all those other wishes will hopefully result in happiness and success.
       Parents are clearly the first and most important teachers to their children. It’s a job most of us take very seriously and do pretty well. When we turn over part of that responsibility to schools, we probably do so with mixed emotions. Certainly, our obligations do not end at this point. They merely change.
      I have had the pleasure of working in the past with one of the great, award-winning educators in St. Louis. Rosalee Johnson has 35 years of experience in the educational field, and she is currently both an Educational Consultant and the St. Louis Area Coordinator for Practical Parenting Partnerships. She has a passionate and unwavering commitment to improving home-school
      I interviewed Rosalee over lunch one day about how to help our children succeed in school.  (Since we are both named Rosalee/Rosilee, my questions will be denoted by the letter T.)

T: What would you say is the most critical factor in helping children achieve success in the school environment?

R: While there are many factors that contribute to children’s school success, nothing is more critical than the role of parents. The basic foundation for learning is fostered in the home. Parents really are the first teachers of their children, and they can build upon this value at all times.

T: Are there things parents can do to instill a love of learning in their kids?

R: In order to instill a love for learning, parents must talk to their children about the importance of education and set a good example. They must maintain and display a positive attitude toward the school and school personnel. When parents remain supportive throughout the child’s educational experience, the children have increased self-esteem and are encouraged to do their best. The entire family can become involved in reading and fun learning activities that promote learning in the home.

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T: How can I help my child develop good study habits?

R: Parents can help their children develop good study habits by providing appropriate space, materials and supplies for study and homework. A routine should be established and a time set aside for study. By modeling good habits, being consistent, communicating expectations to children and by removing all distractions during study times, parents can reinforce their feelings about the importance of learning.

T: Where might I find resources if my child needs extra help?

R: There are many resources for families when they need extra parenting help. Chief among these resources is the Practical Parenting Partnerships Center in Jefferson City. Additional help can be secured through the school, public libraries, ParentLink, Literacy Investment for Tomorrow (LIFT), state and federal education agencies and by accessing the Internet.

William Butler Yeats once said: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  Fire requires three elements:  fuel, heat and oxygen. Children’s success in school requires three elements as well:  child, teacher and parent. Together we can light the world.


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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller