A military mother and father gathered around their two young children doing an activity at a Boys & Girls Club

The path to student success begins with parents and caregivers actively supporting their child’s education.

Student Success: 5 Ways Parents & Caregivers Can Help

Every parent and caregiver wants their child to succeed in school, but academic success is more than just getting good grades. It’s about growing as a person, discovering new things and gaining essential life skills. While success looks different for every student, what matters most is empowering kids to explore their interests, overcome challenges and develop into well-rounded individuals.

Through support, encouragement and involvement, parents and caregivers can positively shape kids’ attitudes toward learning and have a lasting impact on their overall success.

Here are five effective strategies for academic success that parents and caregivers can actively practice to foster an environment that nurtures both growth and accomplishment.

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Take a Holistic Approach to Student Success

Taking a holistic approach to student success helps parents and caregivers create a well-rounded educational experience that not only helps kids learn in school but also develops important life skills. By combining everyday activities and experiences, learning can extend beyond the classroom. For instance:

  • Making a grocery list can help teach kids how to prioritize, plan ahead, and manage their time, which are essential aspects of time management as a student.

  • Cooking together can become a chance to learn about measurements and the science behind ingredients.

  • Exploring nature during a family hike can ignite interest in biology and environmental sciences.

At Clubs, kids engage in high-yield learning activities that incorporate learning opportunities into every aspect of the Club experience through Project Learn, a program funded by Panda Cares, the philanthropic arm of Panda Express. From arts to sports and recreational activities, every moment becomes an opportunity for growth and discovery.

“By providing funding to support Project Learn, thousands of youth will have access to academic programming that fosters learning, character development and ultimately career access.” - Tina Hsing, Director of Panda Cares

This evidence-based strategy has shown overall increased student improvement, with Club participants missing 87% fewer school days when compared with non-Club youth.

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Partner With Them in Learning

Youth-centered learning is a special way of teaching that focuses on each student's strengths, needs, interests and individual identity. Parents and caregivers can use this approach to support student success by:

  • Checking in with your child about their studies — are they feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Understanding their feelings and progress helps parents and caregivers provide the right support when and where it’s needed.

  • Offering a variety of fun and supportive activities, not just focusing on fixing problems, but also encouraging things kids enjoy.

  • Nurturing children’s curiosity and creativity, so they can develop a love for learning and personal growth.

Learning happens everywhere, not only at school but also at home, with friends and at Clubs. At Panda Cares Centers of Hope within Boys & Girls Clubs, kids have a safe and comfortable place to learn and grow. Club staff provides homework help and opportunities to learn about STEM, among many other interests that spark excitement every day. Partnering with parents, they create a caring environment for each child’s development and success.

“Centers of Hope offer holistic support for youth-centered learning – leading with connection, supporting emotional wellbeing, offering a spectrum of academic enrichment and support, and strengthening kids and teens’ ecosystems of learning.” - Chrissy Chen, National Director of Youth Development Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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Connect with Educators and Youth Development Professionals

Studies have shown students with involved parents and caregivers are more likely to earn higher grades, pass their classes and demonstrate positive social-emotional skills. When families actively participate in a child's education, it creates a supportive environment that advances learning and personal growth, setting the stage for academic success and overall well-being.

“Family engagement ultimately provides youth with greater opportunities to practice academic and social-emotional skills, reinforces consistent messages about the value of education and ensures caregivers can effectively advocate for youth.” - Lesa Sexton, Senior Director of Learning Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Families are an integral part of a child's development, and their involvement can significantly impact student success. This is especially important during the transition from middle school to high school, when students’ grades tend to drop.

Families demonstrate engagement in their children’s education when they:

  • Discuss the strengths, needs and interests of their children with educators and youth development professionals.

  • Work on academic and social-emotional skills with their children at home, including helping kids advocate for their needs and interests in a school setting.

  • Promote and reinforce the value of education.

  • Find the resources necessary to make informed decisions about their children’s education.

  • Engage in their own pursuits as lifelong learners to further support their children.

With students spending 80% of their time out of school, being involved in their education can help bridge the gap and ensure that learning continues beyond the classroom.

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Provide Individualized Support

Parents and caregivers have unique insights into a child’s strengths, struggles and interests. One of the most effective ways to promote academic success and growth is by tailoring support to each individual. Caregivers can help personalize the support a child receives inside and outside of the school setting by asking themselves these questions:

  • What motivates my child? Leveraging motivation to support learning helps youth develop initiative and self-direct.

  • What is my child interested in? Connecting learning goals to a youth’s interests is a great way to personalize academic support. For example, a struggling reader might be eager to read about a topic they love, or a child struggling with math might be inspired by a hands-on learning activity like playing a board game, which reinforces simple math skills.

  • When is my child most focused? When it comes to learning environments, every child is different. Children who are distracted in certain contexts might be able to focus in other settings. By identifying when and how a child focuses, parents and caregivers can help create an environment conducive to learning.

  • How does my child prefer to learn new information? When a child doesn’t grasp a concept the first time (or even the second or third time), what helps them persevere? When kids and teens know how they learn best, they can advocate for themselves more specifically. Parents and caregivers can help guide and empower kids to ask for what they need, whether it’s requesting a visual aid, an after-school meeting with a teacher to review a concept or more time to complete a task.

  • What are my child’s strengths? Focusing on strengths is a great way to respond to academic challenges. For example, parents can encourage a child with a musical strength to use songs to memorize information, or a strong storyteller to narrate the historical event they learned about during mealtime.

Boys & Girls Clubs offer individualized support through targeted tutoring and academic case management, which involves identifying strengths and needs and crafting personalized plans to support a Club kid’s progress toward goals. In fact, 94% of Clubs offer tutoring as part of its youth programming to help support youth and caregivers.

“Every child is different. The promise of a brand-new sticker sheet may inspire one young person to immediate action while causing another to shut down from sensory overload. This individualized approach allows us to meet each Club kid where they are and work with their unique strengths and needs.” - Erica Warren, Director of Youth Development Programs and Innovation at Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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Understand What Success Looks Like to Them

Success is not a one-size-fits-all concept — it varies from one individual to another. One of the most important things parents and caregivers can do to help a child is define what success means to them personally. Talk with them about their dreams and passions, and encourage them to set their own goals.

Success can be as diverse as:

  • Auditioning for a play

  • Trying out for the basketball team

  • Joining the debate team to overcome shyness

  • Trying a new sport

  • Any activity that encourages youth to push their boundaries!

“It is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to student learning.” - Tina Hsing, Director of Panda Cares

Whether it's excelling in academics, pursuing a creative endeavor or developing strong social skills, supporting kids in recognizing their unique strengths and interests will lay the foundation for their journey to self-discovery.

Success Skills Start Here

Boys & Girls Clubs partner with parents and caregivers in their child’s education so that each step they take together becomes a path to success. As an extension of communities, Clubs provide kids and teens with safe places to learn, where they can explore their interests and develop essential skills. Learn how Boys & Girls Clubs Academic Success programs help ensure all Club members graduate from high school on time, ready for a post-secondary education and a 21st-century career.

Panda Express, through Panda Cares, supports academic success programming at Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, empowering the next generation to excel in school, build their character, and develop leadership skills for a great future. By working together to provide high-quality, personalized learning experiences, Panda Cares and Boys & Girls Clubs help youth reach their full academic potential and cultivate a love for learning.

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