With a little creativity and a few fun activities, parents can help put passion into their kids' school performance.


When it comes to ensuring their kids are getting a good education, many parents go to great lengths - choosing the right schools, monitoring progress reports, hiring tutors, and the like. But there's more to school success than making good grades, and parents today are taking an active role, not only in helping their kids learn, but also in getting them excited about education.

"A parent's objective should be not only to help a child achieve in school, but to enhance the child's ability to learn," says Charles E. Schaefer, co-author of Help Your Child Get the Most Out of School (Dutton/Plume). That means in addition to the three Rs, Mom and Dad should be taking steps outside of school to foster a love of learning, something that isn't as difficult as one might think.

"Kids are born with a desire to learn. We see this eagerness in toddlers learning to walk, kindergartners learning to tie shoes, and first graders learning how to read," says Kathy Seal, co-author of Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning (Henry Holt).

And, according to Seal, getting your kids motivated and excited about school can pay off on the report card. "Research has shown that when kids are eager and interested, their learning is higher quality: They learn more, they understand it more deeply, and they retain it longer. That makes them more successful in school."

So how does a parent instill an educational passion? A good start is to encourage kids to pursue the subjects they're interested in, both in school and at home. That means supporting a child's development of hobbies and passions, be it stamp collecting, LEGO building, bug or rock collecting, sports, Scouts, skateboarding, reading for pleasure, comic book or baseball card collecting - whatever that child enjoys, assuming it's safe and legal.

Once you tap into their interests, you can weave in things they should learn. For example, says Seal, "If she's having trouble with reading but loves bugs, get her a book on bugs. Or if your son is weak in math but loves baseball, examine baseball stats with him."

There are myriad other ways to enhance your children's educational experience. Here are some age-appropriate suggestions.