Our American Studies teacher at Goleta Valley Junior High used to tell us, “I can teach you, but I can’t learn you.” It is obvious that this teaching pearl did not come from my grammar teacher, but I clearly remember Mr. Parker’s take-home message 35 years later.

The classroom may be the place where a teacher teaches, but the home is where a student really learns. With so many subjects, there are just not enough hours in the school day for a student to master all of his reading, writing and arithmetic at school.


Homework assignments reinforce the lessons of the day. It is critical that students keep track of their assignments and strive to turn them in on time.

Parents are encouraged to help their students stay on top of their work. Some schools make this easier by providing online portals for students (and their parents) to track assignments and grades in real time. When used regularly, this can be a very useful tool.


Kids learn better when they are present. Every effort should be made to minimize school absences. Taking an extended family vacation or scheduling a routine doctor/dentist appointment during school hours is disruptive to a child’s education and may send a message to a student that school is not a priority.


A student who just “hangs out” or is glued to his phone, tablet or screen is more likely to get distracted, get into trouble and less likely to complete his assignments.

A student who has an organized afternoon — with time set aside for studying along with time for athletics/music/art or another extracurricular activity — will likely be a more successful and organized student, while also learning how to budget time and energy.

Minimize Distractions

It is really hard to concentrate on homework when your friends are constantly Snapchatting (or texting) you. Help your child study more efficiently by creating a designated quiet area for him to study.

It may be too tempting to keep checking social media while studying, so consider “parking the phone” in another room during homework time. Establish a charging station away from the desk (and outside of the bedroom) to help set physical boundaries with screens.

Get Involved and Be a Positive Role Model

Establishing communication with your child’s teacher (especially at the elementary level) will demonstrate your interest in your child’s education. Being involved can also help you monitor your child’s progress.

Our schools need your help. Every parent has something to offer, from being a PTA member to a classroom volunteer to bringing a professional expertise into the classroom.

Generally, the more parental participation your child’s school has, the richer the educational experience will be for your child and her classmates.

When parents read (for fun or for work), they send an important message to their kids. I just love it when I walk into a room at home and I see my wife and boys curled up and reading books together on the couch.

Importance of Education

Education is the great equalizer. Whether you attend public school, private school or you are homeschooled, the more education you get, the more doors that will open for you.

A child’s excitement about school often mirrors their parents’ attitudes. Parents should promote education in a positive light whenever they can.

Completing homework on time (and in a quality manner) will help develop a strong work ethic and a positive self-image.

Minimizing school absences and getting involved with your child’s education will help build solid foundations and better schools.

Parents can create a healthy environment to study by minimizing screentime distractions while promoting organization, exercise and the arts.

As the world around us becomes more competitive, learning how to learn becomes even more vital to our future success. Be cool, succeed in school.

Dr. Dan Brennan is a board-certified pediatrician and a Santa Barbara native who is a proud husband and father of three school-age boys. He can be contacted at 805.563.6211, or click here for more information about Santa Barbara Pediatrics. The opinions expressed are his own.