Five Key Skills for Academic Success

A combination of five key skills—organization, time management, prioritization, concentration, and motivation—will help your child be successful in school at any grade level.


  • Children need to be organized in school.  For many kids, academic challenges are related more to a lack of organization than to a lack of intellectual ability.
  • Organization needs to be modeled in the home; kids learn a lot of their behavior by watching their parents.
  • See more in an upcoming article about “How to Teach Kids to be Organized”


  • Learning to schedule enough time to complete homework or assignments may be difficult for your child.  Even when kids have a week to do a project, they often don’t start it until the night before it is due.
  • Help them by tracking assignments on a monthly calendar.  Work backward from the due date of larger assignments and break them up into manageable nightly tasks.
  • Help your child record how much time he/she spends on homework each night; then break up into manageable chunks with short breaks every 15-30 minutes.
  • Designate a time for nightly homework, and try to consistently stick to the schedule.


  • Prioritizing tasks is a skill your child will need to get through life; it’s never too early to get him started!
  • Ask your child to write down all of the things he has to do, including non-school activities; have him assign a number to each task (#1 being the most important); ask about each task so you can understand your child’s priorities (eg. If he labels social priorities first, you’ll know where his attention is focused).
  • Help your child change some of the labels to prioritize for academic success.
  • Check in frequently to see how the list is working and how your child might be prioritizing new tasks.


  • When your child is studying, it’s important that he work in an area with limited distractions and interruptions.
  • When your child is working on the computer, turn off access to games and email.
  • Phones and TV should be off limits during homework time.
  • Have your child work in a space that fits the assignment (eg; a Social Studies project may need a lot of space; studying for a test may need a well lit desk).


  • Most kids say that they want to do well in school, yet they often don’t do the work needed to succeed academically.  The reason for many students may be motivation.
  • Tapping into your child’s interests is a great way to help him do well in school.
  • Link school lessons to real life; if he is studying money in school, have him count change at the store, or figure out prices, how much money is needed to put gas in the car, etc.
  • Link interests to academics; if your child is interested in art, give him books about art, take him to art museums, etc.
  • Give your child control and choices; with guidance, help him determine study hours, organizing systems or school topic choices.
  • Regularly ask your child what he is learning about in school.
  • Congratulate your child; encourage him and celebrate all of him successes, no matter how small.

 (from Great;