The 4 Traits Students Need To Be Successful in Elementary School, According to Teachers

#3 is absolutely key.

Picture of elementary student with quote about top elementary students

A student’s elementary school years lay the foundation for all academic endeavors ahead. Often, primary teachers are the first educators to interact with children on a regular basis outside of their family members. These educators are in a unique position to gauge a student’s academic and developmental progress and even discover trends indicative of habits to come—both inside and outside of school. 

To get clear on what types of traits indicate success at the elementary level, we took over 250 teacher testimonials on their observations. 

1. Love and connection at home

The single-most reported trait boiled down to one thing: parenting. Educator Selena J. so eloquently shared that her thriving students are “the ones with guardians who are involved with and understand the importance of education. They provide well-rounded life experiences for their kids, and they limit electronics at home. They read with their kids, eat meals together regularly, and have meaningful conversations.”

It’s important to recognize that significant time, energy, and availability are required for some of these practices, and not every family has those resources. But every family can offer love, support, and opportunities for connection, which is still great parenting in our book. It’s worth noting that parenting resonated with educators across all grade levels when asked about student success, but it was an especially important component for this age group. 

2. Resilience

At the elementary level, educators agree that this trait is a big deal. Teacher respondent Haley R. defined resilience at this stage as ”perseverance and a willingness to try and to make mistakes. My most successful kiddos are the ones who will jump in with two feet, ask for help when they get stuck, and keep going when they make a mistake and have to fix it (whether that is behaviorally or academically).” Resilient children possess a growth mindset, where mistakes and failures are seen as opportunities for learning and growth—which tees them up well for a successful elementary experience (and beyond!).

3. Kindness 


If our world ever needed anything, it’s more kindness. Fortunately, our teacher respondents reported that this trait is quick to emerge among their most successful students. Samantha R. summed it up with, “Elementary art teacher here—KINDNESS! I truly believe that kindness is a major ingredient for SUCCESS! Being kind requires a student to be respectful and ready to learn from their teacher.” These students understand the importance of building positive relationships with compassion, empathy, and love, which will translate to school and life endeavors ahead. 

4. An interest in reading

The final attribute trend that elementary teachers noted in their most successful students was an overt interest in reading. Numerous educators commented about the correlation between interest in reading and literacy development—a critical academic milestone. Young readers tend to have a love of learning and are curious about the world around them. They are excited to feed their curiosity, which propels their literacy skills. 

Setting the Precedent

Elementary teachers serve as the foundation of a students’ academic endeavors. They help to instill and expand upon values, promote independence, and foster relationships with students’ families—it’s no small feat! Our elementary teacher respondents made one thing abundantly clear: Their job is made easier when children have their needs met at home. While this ideal may be entirely outside of a teacher’s control, they can help by facilitating open lines of communication and advocating for student needs where appropriate. This type of supportive network can be game-changing in the name of elementary success. 

What are other traits that contribute to elementary school student success? Let us know in the comments!

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Wondering what the top elementary students have in common? Teachers weigh in on the four traits their thriving students all share.