No Brainer Ideas to Make Your Child a Successful Student

by Kevin Leman

“Sid, come to my office. We need to talk.” As Sid sat there wondering what was happening, the school official said, “Sid, I really like you. I believe in you. Yet, your grades aren’t cutting it here. You know it and I know it. Here is the good news. People with your character and values go on to be the CEOs of the straight A students. Yes, I am kicking you out of this college. Good luck.”

Here is the irony to Sid’s story. Sid is now one of the largest donors to that school. He ended up being that CEO. In fact, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It wasn’t his grades that made him successful. It was what his parents put into him as a kid while he was in school that made him successful.

1: Read, read, read and when in doubt, read to your kids. 

Successful is…

Sid was asked to leave his school because of his low grades. But he was a success because his parents taught him a love of learning and good life skills. A successful student isn’t defined by the grades on their report card.

A successful student is one that: enjoys learning, is self-motivated, and connects the dots about others, like gratitude. Learning is a life-long journey. Life skills out-perform good grades.

Reading is the Building Block

Want to be an Attorney? You will have to read a lot. Want to be a Doctor, an Engineer, an Actor, or a Salesman? You will have to read a lot to be successful in your career.

As my friend, Jeff Brown of Read to Lead, says, “Readers Lead and Leaders Read.” If you want to succeed above and beyond, reading is necessary.

Encourage Reading by Reading

Andrea’s favorite afternoon activity with her young children was to read a book for 20 minutes as she fell asleep on the coach. The kids joke that mom would read and start to slur her words as she fell asleep. The point is that Andrea made a routine to always find time to read, no matter how tired.

Andrea would let the kids decide which books they wanted to read. (For full disclosure, the book, “Go, Dog, Go” was accidentally left outside during a thunderstorm and ruined, so she didn’t have to read it anymore.)

When teaching reading to the kids, let them struggle and do it themselves. It will drive you crazy at times to help them with the word “that” for the 10,000th time their reading skills will grow much faster.

When your child reads to you, overlook the mispronounced words. They will eventually get it. Better they believe they can read and enjoy the experience at a young age.

Support Creativity by being Creative

Crayons are cheap. Paper is cheap. Creativity is priceless.

Give your kids lots of object to be creative with. Our kids love using the toilet paper rolls for all sorts of creative projects. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive for it to be fun to your kids.

Your response to their projects is important to encourage them to explore more. Hanging the project on the wall or refrigerator  is way more important than a perfect looking home.

The tablet and phone will grab your children’s attention if this is what you grab first to entertain your kids. Grab crayons and craft paper first. Dream with your kids and watch them take off.

Action Steps

  • Find a time and create a habit to read to your young kids.
  • Define a successful student as someone that loves reading and learning.
  • Let them choose books that they want to read.
  • Encourage them to practice reading and let them struggle through the words.
  • Get crayons and craft items for your kids to create works of art.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Readers will flourish.

2. Don’t buy a ticket to the Homework Dog and Pony Show

How often did Dr. Leman help his kids with their homework? How often did Dr. Leman ask his kids if they finished their homework? His answers make sense, but do they really work? Find out in this episode. Dr. Kevin Leman never asked if his kids finished their homework. He keeps the tennis ball of life on their side of the court. So, they learn to be responsible for their own work.

1. It is their life and it is their homework, not yours.

Let the teacher be the authority to get the work done. Your children will learn that they will be responsible for their work by others than mom and dad. When the report card comes home, Dr. Leman recommends saying to your kids, “I have a hard time understanding why, they send me YOUR report card. This is your report card. How do you feel about this report card?”

I’ll never know if my kids are doing good or bad in school, if I don’t ask.

Your kids want you to be engaged in their life. They will volunteer information about their school work. Your job is to show interest in their work. If they volunteer information, be positive and keep it their homework. Feel free to call the teacher and ask how you can help support the teacher to insure his school work gets done.

What do I do if their grades are poor?

The next time, they want to do or go somewhere, say, “Nope, we need to have this conversation about your grades. Within 4 years, a person will look at your grades from High School and will make inferences about you from those grades. If those grades are poor, they won’t want to accept you into college or a job. Are you happy with those grades? What do we need to do to get them up?”

2. School first, play second.

Set the school first culture early. Get your child their own special spot to study. Set it up with their favorite pencil, good lighting and their touch. Set a specific time that homework starts, like 4 pm. This gives your kids the routine that I have my place, my stuff and a set time that school work gets done. Give your kid some time to play or decompress when the first get home from school, then encourage them to go to their spot and do their school work. Early on and later, put up their “work” on the frig. Show off their homework.

3. Don’t load the wagon so full.

Make sure your child has enough time for the important things of life as well as the extra activities. Does your child have time to simply enjoy life? Does your child have time for his friends to come over? Does your child have enough time to get his school work done? Be pro-active in evaluating what does on the family wagon, so you kid’s can do the important things.

Summation of podcasts by Dr. Leman. Used by permission.



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