New Family Guide – Helping Parents Promote School Success

Guest Post by Lori Thomas, Academic Development Institute

At the Academic Development Institute’s School Community Network, we believe all parents have dreams for their children and want the best for them. However, as parents ourselves, we also understand that everyday life can get a little overwhelming, and we all need some help and encouragement along the way. That’s why we continue to create resources, share research, and offer services to help families, school staff, and other caring adults connect and collaborate to support every student’s success.

Recently, we posted a free booklet titled A Guide for Families: Helping Your Child Succeed in School.1 The guide offers free or low-cost ways to support your child’s academic, social, and emotional development at home, at school, and in the community. It includes information on state learning standards and school report cards, as well as college and career readiness. Throughout the guide, we also suggest questions you may want to ask of school personnel.

For example, here is a sneak peek of some of the tips you will find related to college and career readiness:

While schools are concerned with curriculum like math and reading, both research and decades of working with schools and families has shown the “curriculum of the home” is equally important. As stated in the Guide for Families, “The ‘curriculum of the home’ is made up of the patterns of family life that support a child’s ability to learn in school.” 

We offer simple tips to help you model and build social and emotional competencies in each child in areas like conversations about everyday events, showing affection, and establishing a daily routine and family expectations. Research has shown that high parental expectations best predict school success.2 It turns out those little talks over the years as your kids grow matter more than anything else.

The Guide also offers ideas for building family–school relationships that support children’s learning. Great two-way communication between home and school is so important. We offer tips and questions to ask your child’s teacher. For example, “Ask about your child’s strengths—both in academics and in social/emotional or character traits, and share those you see in your child.” 

While engagement at home is most important for your child, we also offer many ideas of ways to get involved at your child’s school or in the community. It may be especially helpful for you to connect with other parents through your school and share experiences and ideas related to your children’s academic, personal, and social and emotional learning.3

Finally, the Guide includes a section on supporting homework. Our tips can help your family establish good study habits that will set your child up for success in school now and in the future—and it all starts with you choosing a positive attitude about learning. As a parent, sometimes we need a little reminder about all the wonders there are to discover in the world and the privilege it is to learn about them. 

We invite you to download and share the Guide and the many other resources available at the School Community Network!

*CPCK Note: We are extremely grateful to Lori Thomas and the School Community Journal for reviewing and publishing our research on parenting and social and emotional learning and so appreciate their supports for families!


1. Academic Development Institute. (2018). A guide for families: Helping your child succeed in school. Lincoln, IL: Author. Retrieved from 

2. Goodwin, B. (2017). Research matters: The power of parental expectations. Educational Leadership, 75(1), 80-81. Retrieved from 

3. Redding, S. (2011). The school community: Working together for student success. In S. Redding, M. Murphy, & P. Sheley (Eds.), Handbook on family and community engagement (pp. 15–20). Charlotte, NC: Information Age. Retrieved from 

Lori G. Thomas is the Executive Editor of the School Community Journal and a Research Associate for the Academic Development Institute’s School Community Network. She is also a wife and mother of two, including a daughter with Prader-Willi Syndrome, and a grandmother of one.

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