Chapter 2: Parent’s Matter, Too

To your kids, you’re a hero

(Click for the Complete Online Parent Reading Guide)

When you think about who has the most influence on your kids, you might think about their friends, celebrities, rock stars or sports figures. But that’s simply not true. Whether they’ll admit it out loud or not, most kids — even teenagers — look up to their parents. What you do, how you act and what you say make a huge impact on your children.

That’s an awesome responsibility. It means your kids are watching you all the time and learning how to react to the world. If you act as if school matters, then your kids will think their education is important. If you read at home and stress the importance of that skill, your kids will pick up on that, too.

And that’s not just an opinion. There are facts to back it up. A report released by the National Education Association tells us that when parents are involved, kids stay in school longer, do better in school and even like school more. What great reasons to get involved with your child’s education!

How to get involved

Getting involved with your kid’s school means getting involved with your child. Here are some easy ways to show your child that school really matters.

  1. Ask your child about his school day when he gets home. If his usually answer is, “Nothing,” then change the question a little bit. Instead, say, “Tell me one funny thing that happened today,” or “What was the most interesting thing your teacher said?”
  2. If it’s possible, attend your child’s back-to-school night. You will probably get to meet his teacher and find out some of the school’s policies, but most importantly, you will be saying to your child, “School matters.”
  3. Just before bedtime on school nights, sit down with your child and his backpack. This is a good time to make sure that his homework is done, that he has his lunch money for the next day, and that he has given you any papers sent home by his teacher. It’s also a good time to ask if he’s having any problems at school — and listen carefully to his answers.

What about reading?

The following chapters are filled with some very concrete ways to help your child learn to be a better and more confident reader. But for right now, here’s a quick-start guide. These simple little things take hardly any time at all, but they can make a big difference if your child is struggling to learn to read.

  • Let your kids “catch” you reading. Buy a mystery novel or a fashion magazine the next time you’re at the grocery store. Let your kids see you reading — and enjoying it!
  • Ask your child about what he’s reading at school. Most kids love to talk when someone is paying attention. Get your child to tell you about what his class is reading. If time is short, you can even do this on the drive home from school or while you’re getting dinner ready.
  • Ask your child to tell you about the story he’s reading at home. If you already have books around the house, ask your child about them. Let him tell you what’s happened so far in the story, or ask him to guess what he thinks will happen next.
  • There are words all around. Point them out! Words are on subway signs and the sides of buses. They’re on menus and the backs of cereal boxes. Point them out to your child. Ask him if he can read a word you’ve both just seen, and if he doesn’t know what it means, make a point of looking it up in a dictionary when you get home.
  • Turn bedtime into “story time.” This trick works for kids of almost any age. For the youngest kids, hearing a bedtime story introduces them to the idea that books have words in them, and those words tell us things. Older children can sit next to you and read along. Kids who are reading on their own might even want to read a story to you.

(Click for the Complete Online Parent Reading Guide)


National Education Association, “Research Spotlight on Parental Involvement in Education,”