What can I do to help my child do well at school?

Try these five easy things to help improve your child’s learning.

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1. Have hopes, dreams and ambitions for your child

When a parent holds high aspirations for their child, they do better at school.[i]

Aspirations are hopes, dreams, aims or ambitions.

If you show your child that you believe in their potential and tell them that you know they can succeed, it can help your child build confidence, set higher expectations for themselves, and they can achieve better results at school.[ii]


  • Let your child know that you think it’s important they do well at school.
  • Ensure your child knows that you believe in their potential and abilities.
  • Ask your child everyday what they learnt at school, or what they found interesting or fun at school
  • Talk to your child often about the dreams and plans they have for their future.

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2. Help your child to enjoy learning

Children develop their attitudes and beliefs in their abilities from their parents.[iii]Characteristics such as tenacity, persistence, planning and organisation and the important ability to ask for help are often qualities children model from their parents.

If your child has a positive attitude to learning they are more likely to complete Year 12 and go onto further study.[iv]

Encourage your child to learn from their mistakes and to keep trying even if they find something difficult. Praise your child for their effort and progress.

Be positive about school and respectful of teachers. Show interest in what happens at school and talk about what your child is learning.

Show your child how you plan, set goals, and follow through when you start something. Children who master these kinds of skills have learned how to learn effectively – and these skills will help them not only during their years at school, but throughout their lives.[v]


  • Demonstrate a positive attitude and good work habits to your child.
  • Talk with your child about what they are learning at school.
  • Help your child to learn how to deal with distractions and to re-engage with their work.
  • Help your child and encourage them to keep trying if they lack confidence or doubt themselves.
  • Common things children say when they lack confidence could include:
    • “I don’t know how to do that”
    • “I can’t remember”
    • “It’s too hard”
    • “It’s boring”
  • Praise your child for their effort and persistence when they are reading or doing homework.

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3. Talk with your child everyday about their day

Children who talk openly with their parents about their day, such as what happens at school and current age appropriate events have better educational outcomes.[vi]

Other activities like discussing books, films or television programmes or eating meals together around the table are also associated with better student reading performance in school.[vii]


  • Talk with your child about what’s happening at school – activities, programmes, what they are learning and even what happens in the playground.
  • Watch age-appropriate TV with your child and talk about what you watch together.
  • Have dinner at the table with the TV off and talk about what happened in everyone’s day.
  • Talk with your child about history, news, or any subject that interests them.
  • If you find it hard to get your child to talk to you about what is happening at school, try these ideas:
    • Instead of asking “How was school today?’ ask “What was fun? What was the worst part of the day? What’s something new you learned today?”
    • Take ideas from their homework and try to discuss those.
    • Ask your child’s teachers to give you a list every few weeks of the work they are covering at school. Ask if your school can send information like this by email, text message or whatever way works best for you.

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4. Read with your child

Parents that read out loud regularly with their children help them to do better at school.[viii]

Reading with children is the best way to teach them how to read and to simply enjoy stories. Teach your child to love reading instead of focusing on teaching them the mechanics of how to read.

If you are not confident in your own reading skills, you can still enjoy stories with your child. You can get assistance to improve your own reading skills. You can also make up stories, tell stories from your childhood, or use audio books that can be borrowed from the local library.


  • Share your own stories with your child about your life.
  • Read books or newspapers for enjoyment.
  • Read and talk about books and stories with your child.
  • Ask your child about their favourite character in a book or what they think might happen next in the story.
  • If you’re not confident with your own reading skills you can:
    • Borrow audio books from the library and follow the story together with your child.
  • If you speak a different language at home you can:
    • Speak and tell stories in your native language – this is very beneficial to your child’s education and life experience.

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5. Get involved with your child’s school and local community groups

Research suggests that when schools, families and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and have positive attitudes toward school.[ix]

For some parents the idea of walking into a school brings back unpleasant childhood memories. Some parents find talking to teachers and other school staff can be scary. It is important to remember that though your experience at school may not have been positive, you have the power to make your child’s experience a better one.

Being a part of the school community is one way to ensure that your child has all the support they need to reach their potential.


  • Talk with your child’s teacher about their schoolwork and learning goals.
  • Meet with the school principal or school liaison officer to discuss what you can do to help your child to get the most they can out of their schooling.
  • Ask for help if you need it. There are many community groups and services to assist parents.
  • Talk with other parents. Other parents can be a great support and you may find that the issues your child is having at school or home can be quite normal for their age.

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[i] Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003,.p.86.

[ii] Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003.

[iii] Hoover-Dempsey, Walker, Sandler, Whetsel, Green, Wilkins & Closson, 2005. 

[iv] Nguyen & Blomberg, 2014.

[v] OECD, 2011a, p.13.

[vi] Emerson, Fear, Fox,  & Sanders, 2012 & OECD, 2011.

[vii] OECD, 2011a.

[viii] OECD, 2011b, p.4

[ix] Epstein, & Sheldon, 2006.