10 Ways Parents Can Support Elementary Age Children

School Social Worker Toolkit

father and daughter laugh during breakfast

Award-winning school social worker Darryl Webster, MSW, offers the following advice to parents to help their children succeed in elementary school.


  1. Be aware and informed about child developmental milestones. If your child is not meeting these milestones, contact your school social worker and special education team to get your child the support they need. The earlier these issues are identified and services are provided the better. This will ensure long-term success for your child as they progress in elementary school.

  2. Be active at your child’s school. This is critical to your child’s success in school.

  3. Be engaged in your child’s life, especially when they are very young and may not be sure of themselves. Model appropriate behavior, rather than follow the "do as I say, not as I do" model. Kids learn from what they see.

  4. Make sure your children have developed proper social and emotional skills for their age.

  5. Listen to your children and be attentive to how to respond to them based on their personality. Each child is different.

  6. Be supportive and hands-on, but know when to back away and give your child an opportunity to fail. This helps children grow emotionally and learn from their experiences.

  7. Don’t do everything for your child. Allowing them to make mistakes in a safe environment is a way to help them develop a sense of mastery and responsibility.

Advice for Parents in Areas of High Poverty, Distress


  1. Advocate for your child. Make sure the school is providing trauma-sensitive education and staff are sensitive to the needs of children from a social/emotional perspective

  2. Ensure that teachers or staff are aware how toxic stress and trauma can impact a child’s ability to learn. You can do this by collaborating with the mental health team at the school, including school social workers and psychologists.

  3. Get involved in the PTA and ensure the community is aware of the mental health needs of children in your community.

Darryl Webster

Darryl Webster, MSW, began his career as a child protective services worker in Washington, D.C. and has been a school social worker in the area for 25 years. He specializes in working with children with severe and profound disabilities. Webster was named 2007 National Father of the Year by the National Father’s Day Commission; 2018 Social Worker of the Year from the NASW Maryland Chapter; a National Hero by USA Today, and a 1988 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. He is the author of "I Think I’m Going Crazy: Proven Strategies for Managing Stress, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression."

Related Resources


What is Social & Emotional Development? - Missouri Dept. of Mental Health

Ages and Stages of Development - California Department of Education