Scouting September 2000

Family Talk Family Talk

Help Your Child to Be a Better Student

By Victor M. Parachin
Illustration by Bob Dacey

Brainpower is only part of the equation in being a good student. Some parental motivation and creativity can help any child do better in school.

Illustration by Bob Dacey

As a grade-school child, Paul Marks did not exhibit the characteristics of being an intellectually gifted child. His grades were always in the average range; and while he faithfully turned in his homework, his interests were more oriented toward sports than academics.

But something had changed by high school. While he did play varsity and junior-varsity sports, Paul also exhibited at the science fair, was chosen for the National Honor Society and National Association of Student Councils, and did student commentaries on a local television station. And he amazed his family by maintaining straight A's during the last two years of high school, becoming valedictorian of his class.

Paul is a good example of the truth that brainpower is only part of the equation in being a good student.

"Top grades don't always go to the brightest students," notes Herbert Walberg, professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Walberg, who has conducted major studies of high-achieving students, says, "Knowing how to make the most of your innate abilities counts for more. Infinitely more."

Some parental motivation and creativity—integral to Paul Marks's success, by the way—can help any child do better in school. Here are some ways parents can help a child tap into his or her natural abilities and become a better student.

Finally, you as a parent should plan to stay involved as long as your child needs your support. While some children will accept their school responsibility early and be able to handle homework fairly independently, others may need continued parental direction and supervision. One mother monitored her daughter's homework until the girl reached 10th grade. That daughter recently graduated from a university and is enjoying a successful career.

Victor Parachin writes from Tulsa, Okla.

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