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Seven secrets to success hero

Seven secrets to success: helping your child excel in school

Ethan Hildreth
Ethan Hildreth (3 posts) Superintendent at the Nord Anglia American International School View Profile
One of the most common questions that our teachers and principals receive is how parents can best support their child’s learning. As a school leader, parent of five children, and Nord Anglia’s latest addition in Abu Dhabi, Ethan shares his advice on how parents can make the most of their child’s experience in school.

As parents, we encourage our children to reach high. As a lifelong educator, I help learners reach academic, university, and career goals. Personal and professional experiences show clear advantages when school and home work closely together. In addition, research repeatedly validates the immense benefit of parent involvement, as reported by prominent institutions such as University of Leicester and Harvard.

If two students otherwise have similar abilities and school quality, the one with focused parent support will enjoy a distinct advantage. While strategies abound for encouraging learning at home, the following points provide a focused path to success:

1. Read

Reading is perhaps the most important key to learning. Help your child become an avid reader by finding topics of interest. Make family reading a way of life. A former student earned a perfect score on the SAT university admissions test. He said the most important advice he could give others is to read as much as possible, starting as early as possible. Read and succeed.

2. Be involved

Talk with your child daily, about school and life in general. Help your child find strengths and interests, and encourage creativity. Communicate with teachers early when you have a question or concern. Volunteer at school and be an active learner and teacher.

3. Teach character

How is this accomplished? By focusing on discrete habits. Aristotle says it best: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Fundamental habits that lead to success include attention, listening, organization, good conduct, sharing, and timeliness. Perhaps most important is the habit of respect to adults, peers, and self. Search “habit training for children” to find countless resources online.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle, philosopher and scientist
4. Get outside

When our children were young, magical joys included exploring a local creek for frogs and turtles, or jumping in fresh rain puddles. Taking walks in nature is one of the best ways to build a sense of wonder, peace, and gratitude.

5. Enjoy fine arts 

Thomas Merton said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” How true this is for all of us! By sharing art, poetry, and music with your child, you help develop their humanity in profound ways, while giving them the gift of beauty.

6. Leverage technology

Limit media that wastes time. Instead, encourage your child to use Khan Academy, Global Campus, and similar resources to accelerate learning. 

7. Live a balanced life

Model a lifestyle emphasizing good nutrition, fitness, and adequate rest. Help your child understand the enriching value of hobbies, sports, and other interests. When you take care of yourself, it becomes easier to take care of your child.

Infusing home life with these significant practices provides a foundation of learning that inevitably guides a child to school success and lifelong learning. As parents and teachers, we promote inquiry, wonder, and joy through practices such as these. Moreover, we help our children lead a full life.

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