How can we help our kids finish the school year strong?
Most high school students have only just had their mid-terms. This means they still have half the course left and poor marks can be turned around still! High school students are in the perfect position to make improvements and finish the year strong.
All other students can also finish the year strong, as long as they can turn one thing around! Just one big improvement can build confidence and set the stage for a successful following year.
I’d like to give kudos to the parents who are reading this and to the kids who have told their parents that they need help. These are both steps forward in the right direction!
What Could Possibly Be Wrong?
Figuring out what hasn’t worked since the beginning of the semester and coming up with solutions to those things is the first thing you need to do!
Ask these questions of your child:
- Do they understand the content?
- Do they hand in assignments?
- Do they know how to study for tests?
- Do they know how to get started on homework?
- Do they know what to do when you don’t understand a question?
- Are there distractions in the classroom or where one does their homework or studying?
- Is there a lack of interest in the subject area?
- If there a lack of rapport with the teacher?
- Do they understand the way the teacher is teaching?
- Do they lack the confidence or the knowledge of how to ask for help?
- Is there a lack of time in the student’s life to put towards school work outside of school?
Listen for the Answers
When asking those questions, truly listen to your child’s answers. What do we mean?
When listening to your child’s answers, don’t answer for them! This can be difficult to do. For example, we often hear from parents that weren’t successful in math themselves, that it’s no wonder their child isn’t successful. In this example, parents are giving their child permission to do poorly based on their own experience. They are setting their child up for failure.
Is Failure Okay?
Turning a year around, at any point, will take figuring out what hasn’t worked since the beginning of the semester/school year and coming up with solutions to those things.
So, when you are listening just to listen, then you can brainstorm solutions.
For example, if a student feels that they are unable to retain the information being taught, we would ask the following of them:
- When did they first start thinking that they couldn’t learn? We hear from kids that have formed that opinion from as young as four years old from something that was said to them.
- Has anybody ever made them feel that they just aren’t going to get it, no matter what they try? We applaud children when they fail as they learn to walk. We give them supports, cheer them on, kiss them when they fall, all while encouraging them to get back up again. But what happens when they fail at school? More often than not, kids do not get the same treatment they did as they learned to walk. They are punished, scorned, and some even told that they will amount to nothing. Somehow as a child gets older, the need for perfectionism outweighs the need for growth and learning.
- Are they defined by the last mark they got? If a child gets a poor mark and is treated differently as a result, they are going to define themselves as that mark.
- Is there a pattern to them not understanding? When we talk to families that are calling us in the later grades, one of our first questions is to figure out if this is a new phenomenon or if it’s been a pattern for a while.
- Does everybody, including them, embrace their failures and look at how to move forward? If not, then failures will wear someone down and erode their ability to try.
- Do they know how to get started on homework? Homework is such a big question, we will cover it in our next blog post on it! Stay tuned!
Talk To Your Child’s Teacher
You will want to ask similar questions of your child’s teacher to get their understanding of why your child is achieving the mark they are achieving. You will want to ensure you listen, just for the purpose of listening, when you talk to their teachers as well!
We have compiled how to best do this in our Parent-Teacher Conference Blog.
Even if your school just had parent-teacher conferences, don’t be afraid to ask for a one-on-one meeting with the teacher. Most teachers are willing to put in an extra hour to help your child succeed!
What are you doing to finish the school year strong? Let us know on Facebook!