January 12, 2016

A base for success

By Bill Cirone

Nearly 40 years ago, a report entitled “The Evidence Continues to Grow” from the National Committee for Citizens in Education made a strong case for parental involvement in education.

The report found that effective families have several definable characteristics. These included:

  • A feeling of control over their lives — individually, and as a group
  • Frequent communication of high expectations to the children
  • A family dream of success for the future for all members
  • A consistent message that hard work is the key to success

The case for parental involvement and its role in a child’s success is every bit as applicable today as it was four decades ago.

The report pointed to other important characteristics and habits that were hallmarks of successful families, including an active lifestyle involving physical activities, a view of the family as a mutual support system and an effective problem-solving unit, and the articulation of clearly understood household rules that are consistently enforced.

The report maintained that this type of family lifestyle helps lead to a child’s increased self-confidence and self-control.

These positive family habits may seem elementary to some. For others, it may seem difficult to find a place to begin.

For those in the latter category, I would offer four simple ingredients that can make any child more successful in school. The acronym “BASE” can be helpful in remembering these fundamental keys to success.

First is having Boundaries and expectations. Children need adults who act like adults.

Parents who are firm and loving have children who do better at school, feel more self-confident, and get into less trouble than children whose parents are either too strict or too lenient.

Activities. Constructive use of time is essential. After school, children still need to be involved in constructive activities. Research shows that children who watch more than 10 hours of TV per week are less successful in school than those who watch less.

So be sure young people have challenging and interesting activities to do after they leave the classroom each day.

Support. Young people need to know that someone is in their corner. They can be successful if they feel that someone cares deeply about whether they succeed or fail, and if someone is proud of their successes and their efforts.

Empowerment. All people need to know they make a difference.

Encourage children to provide service to others. Make sure they take part in school, community, or religious organizations that give them the chance to serve and contribute.

These four elements — boundaries, activities, support, and empowerment — have proven to make a big difference for children. Parents’ effective employment of these ingredients with their children can be the BASE for success in school and life.