If you have a young child who is just getting started in their career as a student, it’s up to you to supply them with the encouragement and emotional framework needed to be successful. Thankfully, there are several proactive steps you can take to help them get ahead.

5 Ways to Set Your Child Up for Success

Children are impressionable. If they enjoy school when they’re young, they’re much more likely to enjoy school when they’re older. The same goes for success. Students who are successful as early as elementary school tend to embrace those same smart habits and practices during their later years of education.

As a parent, you can’t force your child to love school or get good grades. You can, however, put them in a position to do so. Here are several suggestions:

1. Set Goals

It’s difficult for a young child to have a long-term perspective with school. They don’t have the mental aptitude to understand that they’re cultivating smart habits that will eventually allow them to be successful in school, which helps them get into a good college, which allows them to get a good degree, which helps them land a high-paying job, etc. It just doesn’t work like that. But what you can do is help them set small, achievable goals.

A goal might be getting a certain grade on a test or completing a project by a certain date. It’s not exactly important what the goals are – just that your child has some in place. It gives them something to aim for in the short-term.

2. Help Your Child Get Organized

Children who are organized tend to be better students. (They also tend to be more successful in life.) You can help your child succeed inside the classroom by teaching them to be more organized.

One suggestion is to get your child a backpack that they love. It could be something very basic, or you could get a fun themed backpack. The idea is that you want your child to use the backpack. And if they love the backpack, they’re more willing to embrace organization. Along these same lines, be sure to buy folders, binders, etc.

3. Don’t Pigeonhole Your Child

As parents, we’re always looking for the best in our children. We want them to be happy and successful, so we do everything we can to help them identify their best skills and traits. Unfortunately, this often results in “pigeonholing” a young child into thinking they’re only good at certain things (or that they don’t have the skills to do something else). 

When a child is young, try not to steer them too much. Let them pursue the things they’re interested in and excited about (even if it doesn’t look like it’s their thing). Your child will eventually self-identify the areas where they’re strongest as a student. You don’t have to do this for them.

4. Supply Motivation

Sometimes kids need a little extra motivation to study, do homework, or focus in school. Don’t be afraid to motivate your child with incentives. Find something that your child loves and use this as a tool. 

For example, maybe your seven-year-old son loves baseball. You could buy a bunch of packs of baseball cards and let him open one each time he gets an A on a test. When he doesn’t get an A, he doesn't get a pack of cards. He’ll figure out pretty quickly that getting A’s on exams is a good thing.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Do your best to eliminate distractions for your child so that they can be a more focused student. This is especially important when it comes to study or homework time. You want to create an environment where they’re able to focus.

“A good rule of thumb for an effective homework and/or study period is roughly 10 minutes per elementary grade level,” KidsHealth.org explains. “Fourth-graders, for example, should expect to have about 40 minutes of homework or studying each school night. If you find that it's often taking significantly longer than this guideline, talk with your child's teacher.”

During homework time, get rid of all screens and outside distractions. Ideally, you should have a designated homework space or study nook. This makes it easier for your child to get into homework “mode” and focus.

Give Your Child a Head Start

Set your child up for success in life by giving them the tools they need to be successful inside of the classroom. It won’t always be easy, but your commitment as a parent will pay dividends in the years to come. Give it your best shot!