Top 10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Fifth Grader Be Successful

The following is a list of tips for parents that I believe sets up their child for success in fifth grade. Success, in my mind, is not just getting good grades, but also having a good attitude, being a respectable leader, and being a caring person. Additionally, I am looking at success not only for this fifth grade school year, but also as preparation for middle school and beyond.

Is it possible to be successful in life if you don't do everything on this list? Of course! However, as a fifth grade teacher, I have found that most of these items correlate positively with those who go on to lead the healthy, admirable lives that we all hope our children achieve.

10)  Don't touch their stuff

Let them organize their materials themselves. They should be the ones using their backpack, binder, folders, supplies, etc. and they don't need your help. Parents who do the work that their child ought to be doing themselves are actually setting up their child for failure. Children must develop the organizational skills they need to be self-sufficient, and they must figure out what works best for them. I am really encouraged when I remind myself this saying: "Never do for children what they can do for themselves."
 Additional resource:
  >> Coming soon! Eventually, I plan to film and embed a video showing how to coach your child to stay organized from afar without touching their materials.

9) Encourage them to take ownership of their own education

Students taking ownership of their own education means that they take their school career into their own hands and out of yours. The goal is to get them motivated to handle the daily business as well as issues that pop up. Many parents want to deal with their child's problem or ask their teacher a question, even when the child is completely capable of doing it. For example, in our school, every student in fifth grade has a school email address. If you have a question to ask me, have your child email me instead of you sending it. It demonstrates to them the importance of taking the initiative. Other examples include encouraging them to approach me to talk in class, contact another classmate if unsure of an assignment, asking for permission to problem-solve if there is an issue with peers, etc. Overall, it is great practice for the student to take the initiative and handle problems on their own whenever possible.

8) Be consistent

In the classroom, student behavior gets worse if I am less consistent with my rules and consequences. At home, it's the same. Being consistent is very difficult for many parents. Life can be crazy and chaotic at times, and we are certainly not perfect when it comes to parenting. However, the rewards from showing more consistency at home continue, not only into the classroom at school, but also into their future. Establishing structure so that children know your boundaries and your role as their authority figure will prepare them well for life. They will always have an authority figure they will need to show respect to (i.e., a boss, the government, God, etc.).
 Additional resource:
  >> How to Discipline Kids: The Key to Being a Consistent Parent - Empowering Parents

7) Balance work and play

Ideally, students should not be stressed out, and there should not be too many things on their plates. I make it a priority to give my students very little homework because I want them to be spending quality time with their families each night. I also believe that kids should have free time to be bored and experience imaginative play, since it improves their creativity. While there are many benefits to extracurricular activities like sports or learning a musical instrument, it is also very possible to overdo it. Balancing the amount of work that a child is doing, along with how much fun play time they are having, is something to keep in mind.
 Additional resources:
  >> Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says - BBC News
  >> Handling Boredom: Why It's Good for Your Child - Aha Parenting

6) Give your child household chores

Research shows that children regularly taking part in household chores is a proven predictor of success. Participating in chores at home builds responsibility and self-reliance, as well as the feeling that chores are not just a duty, but a way of family members taking care of one another. I desire to reflect this in the classroom as well, as I have a rotation of jobs my students do to help out our classroom community. Giving them regular responsibilities like these help them develop a mentality that will stick with them into the future. Parents, please teach your kids responsibility at home by ensuring that they pitch in with chores and jobs that they are more than capable of doing -- it will benefit your family and child, not only now, but also later in life.
 Additional resource:
  >> Why Children Need Chores - Wall Street Journal

5) Understand that you are a teacher too

I am not the only teacher in your child's life. You, as a parent, are teaching them with your actions, interactions, and words every single day. You have more of an impact on your child than I do. So, more often than not, they learn what success looks like by looking at your example. What do you tell them success looks like? Is a successful life all about getting a job and earning money? Or is success about more meaningful things in life, such as love, kindness, or self-sacrifice? What are you teaching your child through your actions? How do you treat your spouse? How do you talk about people who are rude or insensitive? It is crucial that you remember that your child imitates you in all areas of your life. The character-building traits are the most important things you can teach them. What is important in life? How do we treat others? Being genuine and selfless are lifelong traits to strive for. These are immeasurable characteristics. I will work on teaching them some of these traits in class as well. You teach your child just as much as the teacher does at school; you're just teaching them different subjects in life.
 Additional resources:
  >> 10 Life Skills Every Parent Should Teach Their Kids - Lifehack
  >> What Parents Should Really Teach Their Children - Huffington Post

4) Help them study

Many of my students have difficulties with studying for exams. Some students are extremely diligent with preparing themselves beforehand, while other students don't understand what studying looks like. In class, I review some basic ways of how to study. However, the biggest struggle many students have is time management. Since taking the time to study is a fairly new concept to them as fifth graders, it is extremely helpful when parents take the time to study with them to demonstrate how to prepare well for an exam. Their way of studying might be different than your way. Help them discover what works best for them. Ask them questions about what they are learning. Ask them to show you their study guide or whatever I have given them to use to study. The following link can be used to help them figure out what study habits work best for your child.
 Additional resource:
  >> Tips For Helping Kids and Teens With Homework and Study Habits - Child Development Institute

3) Create a routine at home

Routines are extremely beneficial for kids, not only at school, but also at home. Forming a routine tells your child what is important to your family. For example, if you create a brushing/flossing routine, then they understand the value of it. Routines establish patterns of responsibility that continue into adulthood. I talked to one parent who described to me their regular after school routine, and I was amazed by it! (I plan to put a link below once I create a video showing this particular routine.) If children know what is planned every day, then they will know what to expect, and it makes transitions less stressful. Occasionally, spontaneity is valuable and fun, but a routine implemented regularly will help children feel more safe and secure.
 Additional resources:
  >> Family Routines: How and Why They Work - Raising Children Network
  >> Coming soon! Eventually, I plan to film and embed a video showing how to create an after school routine with your children.

2) Be polite and have good manners

Success is linked to emotional intelligence, which includes being likable and trustworthy. Like I mentioned above, children imitate their parents in all areas, and if the parents are poor examples of politeness, then their children will likely not display good manners. In my class, I teach my students what I call "Timeless Tips" and expect them to use these tips not only during the school year when I have them in class, but also in the future. I want my students to be successful throughout their life, and it is much more likely that they will do well in a job interview if they are polite and have good manners. I encourage parents to exemplify this at home.
 Additional resources:
  >> Timeless Tips - Mr. Riedl
  >> Manners Matter: Teaching Your Child Great Manners - Love and Logic
  >> Good manners cost nothing but they can turn you into a workplace and interview success! - Daily Express
  >> Why Emotionally Intelligent People Are More Successful - Fast Company

1) Don't worry

As a parent myself, I am tempted to worry about my children when they are at school. They will have to make their own choices and decisions without my guidance. So much will happen over the course of a child's life that we have no control over as parents. Rather than worry, I strive to do what I can to prepare them for the difficulties of life beforehand, and then support them through the struggles they experience in the classroom and elsewhere. My goal as a parent is to be dependable and solid, and be at peace knowing that I cannot control everything. If I overreact or worry when my children have negative experiences, then my children will also learn to overreact or worry when things do not go their way. I often tell the parents of my students that fifth grade is a pivotal year, when students need to become more independent in preparation for middle school and high school. It is wonderful when parents encourage them in that direction.
 Additional resource:
  >> Do Not Worry - Matthew 6:25-34

Honorable Mention: Read the same books your child reads

As a teacher, it is my job to be reading the books my students are reading. I am expected to find literary terms in the texts and make connections in my classroom. However, I believe it is just as important for parents to read the same books that their children are reading, but more for the purpose of knowing what topics they are being exposed to. Many of the books my fifth graders read have characters who get into very intense situations. Some books touch upon child abuse, some highlight birth defects/disorders, as well as homelessness, religion, witchcraft, social justice, love, relationships, etc. Being able to talk to your child about these deep topics is crucial for them as they grow up. Using the books that they love to read is a great way to connect with them about issues that already have their interest. If you don't know what they are reading, you might be missing out on some important conversations as they are forming their personal beliefs and worldview. If you don't think you have the time to read, then audiobooks are a great reasource. I listen to audiobooks on my commute, and I love it!
 Additional resources:
  >> The largest selection of digital audiobooks
  >> Borrow ebooks, audiobooks, and more for FREE from your local public library

Mr. Riedl
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