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Top Students Top Parents: Book Review


I had an interest in counselling from an early age and looking to explore it a bit in high school, I got requested from my school permission to get a credit for tutoring other students.

The experience for me was wonderful and I learned a lot of important lessons. One lesson was that a child's home environment has a massive impact on a child's academic potential. I remember one student, a girl several years younger than me, who I assisted, who was struggling with her classes. During our sessions together she admitted to me that she experienced physical and emotional abuse at home at the hands of her mother and step-father. This was so horrific to me. I remember coming home and asking my parents, "How can anyone in that situation be expected to succeed in school?" This poor girl had to think about how not to get the crap beaten out of her, so homework is not going to be a top priority.

Of course, it takes more than just an emotionally and physically safe environment to provide a child with the ideal encouragement to flourish in school.  But many parents lack the knowledge of exactly what they can do to set their children on the right path. This is why former teacher, Kathleen Burns, wrote Top Students Top Parents. As an educator, Burns recognized how important is the home environment and a child's relationship with caregivers to a child's performance at school.

The book is divided into several sections:

Part I: Laying the Foundation for Success - Infancy and Above

This section contains research findings on child development, dangers of electronics, language, motor skills, home environment, responsibility, self-esteem, social skills, rewards, etc.

Part II: Reading and Writing

The second section is all about how to encourage learning to read and reading comprehension and provides strategies for helping your child to learn to read and write at home.

Part III: School Success

Included in this part of the book is lifestyle and habits to promote learning (sleep, organization, etc.), communication with school/teachers, dealing with homework, and handling social problems.

Burns bases much of her advice on recommendations from experts. There is a full bibliography in the book. I would have been more impressed if she had also included peer reviewed literature that is more recent than some of the dated books she lists. But the book is still full of useful and thoughtful tips for parents.

Now as parents who have a combined total of 2 Bachelor's degrees, 3 Masters degrees and 2 PhDs, there was not too much that was new for me in the book. I think most of what Burns recommends came naturally to Adam and I, especially since Adam is a published expert in the field of pedagogy. But for anyone who, as a parent, is unsure how to set your child up for academic success, this book will be extremely helpful and I definitely recommend it.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.

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