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Prepare for Academic Success at Home: Settling the Foundation

Creating and supporting habits of lifelong learning is the best investment you can make in your child’s academic success. The Parent Institute and the non-profit, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), have ideas for creating a learning-rich, home environment. Their ideas have been combined for this simple home-learning list to advance your child’s literacy and mathematical acuity this school year.

1. Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read. Share their love of books and reading. You may say to your child, “This was my favorite book when I was your age” or, “I can’t wait to start my new book.”

2. Try relaxing your familys bedtime rules once a week on the weekends. Let your children know that they can stay up as late as they want, as long as they are reading in bed.

Cook with your children. Have them use measuring spoons, cups, and tools for a hands-on lesson in volume and science vocabulary, like liquids and solids.

Try holding D.E.A.R. times at your house. DEAR stands for “Drop Everything And Read.” During D.E.A.R. time, everyone in the family sits down for some uninterrupted reading time.

With young children, try reading to them during bath time. (Careful with the splashing.)

Have children make a book about themselves with their own illustrations and wording. “A Book About Me” is a great way to help your child see themselves as ‘somebody.’

Help your child discover their roots by talking with family members. Then ask your child to write that family member a thank-you letter and share all they learned that they didn’t know in the letter.

Let kids overhear you praising them to others, particularly about how impressed you are with how well they are learning. Always praise their reading efforts.

Encourage children to read biographies about successful people. As children learn about the traits that made others successful, they are often motivated to adopt those same success patterns in their own lives.

Motivate your children in math by challenging them to figure out how much change you should get back from a purchase. If they get the amount right, they get to keep the change.

11. Encourage kids to collect things. Whether they collect rocks, shells, leaves, or bugs is not important. By collecting, children are learning new ways to make sense of their world.

12. Estimating is an important math skill. We estimate how much our groceries will cost. We estimate how much time we’ll need to complete a project at work. You can help your child learn to estimate at home. Here’s one idea: As you’re driving with your child in the car, estimate the distance to your destination. Then estimate how much time it will take to get there. Use the odometer or a map to check your work.

Talk about geography in terms children can understand: Go through your house and talk about where things came from. A calculator may have come from Taiwan. Talk about which province the wheat for your bread came from. Where was the cotton for your blue jeans grown? Talk to your children about your ancestors and find those places on a map, together.

14. Show your child that writing is useful. Have them help you write a letter ordering something or asking a question, etc. Then show them the results of your letter.

Start a family journal with the sequence of events throughout the day. Any family member can write in it and share a special experience, gratitude, or random act of kindness they want to remember.

Laura Lyles Reagan, MS, is a parenting journalist, family sociologist, and author of How to Raise Respectful Parents. She can be reached for parenting tips and coaching at

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