Parents are the most effective tool for student success

By MICHAEL FORD Special to The Daily Herald

Study after study proves that the best way to predict a student’s success is to examine the support he or she receives in the home.
Having the privilege to be both a father and educator, I can speak first hand to the significance parent involvement plays in a child’s academic success. There is absolutely no other factor we can create that replaces the impact and importance of parents being involved with their kids from birth onward.

Study after study proves that the best way to predict a student’s success is to examine the support he or she receives in the home. As an elementary school principal, I see that reality play out on a daily basis. Likewise, I have seen this reality play out in my home with my own kids.

Have no doubt, Maury County teachers and leaders work tirelessly to support the students they serve. I work with the most dedicated group of educators and staff around. When we make decisions, what’s best for students drives us, but we can’t do it alone. The most successful students are the ones who experience reinforcement and support from their parents at home.

What does that reinforcement look like? How can parents help their kids get the most out of their K-12 educational experience? Here are four ways I have personally experienced success.

1. Require consistent attendance

As a parent, it is important that you develop a strategy to communicate to your children that it is a priority to you that they are in school. As educators, we know life is going to happen. Kids are kids, and having two of my own I know the one thing you can depend on is that sickness or unforeseen emergencies are going to happen.

But other than these rare occasions, it is important that your kids know your expectation is for them to be in school. Through regular attendance, students will know that they are on track academically and not falling behind their peers and, more importantly, they will know you want them to succeed, even on those days they just don’t want to get up because they don’t feel like learning.

As a principal, the students I have seen be most successful are those who are in seats learning more days than not. As a parent of a first grade student, my wife and I have set priorities so our daughter knows we expect her to be in class because it will impact what she does years from now.

2. Monitor students’ academic progress

Getting to school is an important step. But to really increase your child’s success, develop habits to keep a close eye on grades; set high but achievable expectations with your child; and create a home environment that is focused on learning. Communication with teachers is key to monitoring progress at school.

Teachers are more than willing to discuss goal-setting strategies with you to help improve academic performance. You can also track student progress through the parent portal on the Maury County Public Schools website,

Each school offers regular parent-teacher conferences so you can hear firsthand how your child is performing. When you know how your child is progressing, you will be able to provide a quiet place at home where your child can work independently or with your help and interaction.

3. Provide encouragement

Educators want to see their students succeed, but no one is going to be a bigger champion for your child than you. When difficult assignments come up in school, encouraging your child to push through will set them up for success in life. Celebration of success is also critical to help your child know that persevering through difficult situations will have rewards.

As a principal, I have seen students who have solid communication with their parents and teachers be the most successful when tackling the hardest goals set before them. As a parent, I have also seen my daughter respond better in tough learning situations when she knows mom and dad are there to support her whether she is successful or not. Some of the most beneficial encouragement she has had is when she fails the first time but has her parents right there to support her when she gets back up for another round.

4. Volunteer

Schools need parent support, too. Parents always have an open invitation to take an active role, and there are many ways to get plugged in. Teachers can always use help with classroom projects or events, and PTA meetings or committees are also available. Reach out to your school and ask what the biggest need is. You might be surprised that time is one of the biggest needs most schools have – and what a great way to spend 30 minutes a week by reading to students or working with students that might need help academically. Visit to learn about additional opportunities that might come up over the school year.

Our school system is getting stronger as we develop new ways to invest in student success via the Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness. But before we can even start to implement the Keys, you must unlock the door to your child’s potential. Thanks for partnering with us to Grow Maury by fostering educational success in your home.


Michael Ford is principal at Randolph Howell Elementary School.

For the original article in the Daily Herald click HERE

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