Your Child Needs You More Than You May Realize
It is common for many parents to feel that keeping too close of tabs on their student may be perceived as being "over-bearing" and controlling; however maintaining that close relationship that you held in elementary school is actually more beneficial for the student's development and future success. Students in high school may require even more guidance despite their age because they are capable of making more critical decisions than they were as a younger child. Although each child is unique and there are always exceptions to every scenario, educators agree that for every successful student, there is family close behind them.
- Meeting Place... Grab a couple of chairs, the student's planner, highlighters, and pen/pencil and log into Student or Parent Connect with your student in a quiet, clutter-free area.
- One Thing at a Time... Discuss one class at a time in great detail. Avoid jumping around so that the student can focus on one class at a time.
- Stay Positive... Praise your student on good points - don't bombard the conversation with areas of weakness, but include some good points to ensure that the student feels valued and nurtured.
- Don't Ignore Problem Areas... Discuss all of the significant areas that can be improved upon (signficant refers to the lowest grades). This shows the student that you are paying attention and that you expect better performance. Have a conversation about these missing assignments or low grades by asking the student how he/she missed turning it in or why the grade is as low as it is. Allow the student to respond and keep the tone at a casual conversation level to ensure it doesn't escalate into a disagreement. Showing disappointment is good so that the student realizes his/her performance is not at the level you desire, but maintaining an adult tone ensures that the student doesn't feel threatened and will continue to feel confortable about discussing his/her shortcomings and poor choices.
- Print-Out Grades from Parent Connect... If possible, print out the student's grades so he/she can mark on the paperwork (take notes) throughout the discussion. Notes should consist of "next steps," or what the student will do to follow-up on that missing assignment or low grade (i.e. ask the teacher to retake the test, ask the teacher if he will allow the missing assignment to be turned in late for partial credit, ask the teacher if the assignment can be redone, ask the teacher for tutoring). Placing the responsibility on the student to follow-up teaches him/her how to have the adult-like conversation with an adult while learning how to address the fine points that are critical with being successful in society (such as the specifics of the assignment, discussing whether the assignment can be redone or made up, identifying the due date, and more).
- Use a Planner... Stay organized using a planner - have your student write down in his/her planner reminders to discuss the follow-up notes from your discussion when your student returns to school. Notes should be written on the day that the task is to be done. Notes should also be written on dates when tasks or assignments are due. Refer to the example below, which demonstrates a conversation that took place over the weekend (notice the notes on Monday with "Ask" in front of the assignment name), and the follow up that also took place, such as answers the teacher gave so that the parent can easily follow-up, the assignment due dates as the student learned them from Monday's discussion with the teacher, and key symbols for quick identification (highlighting and check-marks).
- Meet Regularly... To start out with, meet every single day to follow up with the items written on the student's grade print-out or planner until the student and you feel that he/she has done all of the catching up he/she can possibly do. Then, reduce your meetings to weekly. Ideally, meeting on a Friday or Saturday would provide time for the student to complete something on Sunday should you find something that was not yet complete. Be sure to sit down together at the computer (or with the most recent grade printout), along with the materials mentioned in the first step above. Once you have seen progression, then parents can even reduce the meetings to monthly or on a as-needed basis.
When Parents Should Intervene
Ideally, the student should establish and maintain a consistent open line of communication with the teacher since it is a skill they will need as they reach adulthood. This not only provides them an opportunity to learn how to communicate effectively as they inquire about an assignment and discuss options to do or redo and all of the details that follow, but it also helps build the relationship between the student and the teacher for increased communication and understanding. Although promoting the communication between the student and teacher is ideal, there are times when the parent should step in. If at any time the parent feels that the student's efforts are not improving the student's situation, then parents should begin by emailing the teacher for clarification. Should you require more clarification, then a parent-teacher-student meeting should be scheduled.
Do you have something to share to assist parents with regards to grades?