REALITY CHECK: Does your child need a little help in the academic department? Did you notice that his grades slipped a bit or could use a little improvement? If so, then there is your parenting resolution to take on.
This morning on the Today show I spoke with Al Roker about how to set parenting resolutions. Each day this week I’ll post another one of those resolutions we discussed. Here is the first sample parenting resolution: How to improve your child’s slipping grades.
The Problem: Slipping Grades
While every child can’t be the valedictorian, almost every kid can learn to be a good student. Research also shows on one of the highest correlations to a child’s school success is having parents who are involved (constructively, that is) in their children’s education. A key is to de-emphasize your focus on the grade and emphasize a love of learning and work ethic. You may also need to teach your child good study skills so he can succeed.
The Parenting Resolution:
“I resolve to help my child learn his studies so he improves his grades and understands the importance of academic achievement.”
Meet the teacher.
Begin by setting up a meeting with the teacher and discover what’s really causing those grades to slip. Is it poor study skills? A learning disability? Not doing the work? Or is the class level inappropriate (too high or too low)? Does your child need specific testing? Ask where your child ranks in terms of achievement with the rest of the children. You need specific information so you can create a specific plan. Also, don’t leave that meeting without asking what is the best way to stay in contact with the teacher. For instance, does she prefer to be contacted by phone or email? Or should you send a brief note for her to sign once a week? You don’t to be intrusive but you do want to let the teacher know you are concerned. You also need to know exactly what you can do to help your child.
Create a plan with the teacher to remedy the problem. The plan must be specific and realistic. It should also be based only on your child’s academic needs. Don’t take on too much! Doing so will overwhelm your child. Instead, aim to improve one area at a time. For instance, if your child is flunking those math tests, then zero in on helping him learn those math facts. If a tutor is recommended, then consider hiring a high school student.
Set clear expectations for doing homework each night. Your child needs to know that his efforts will make a difference on that grade. Remember your goal in this is to be a guide and not the doer.
Take a periodic Reality Check. If you notice your child is struggling too much, then it’s time to go back to the teacher. Is something else going on? Does your child lack the study skills? Could he have a learning disability or ADHD? Don’t turn a label into an excuse (says the former special education teacher). Just know that if this is the case your child will need a different type of teaching approach to help him succeed.
The highest correlation to school success is an “involved” parent. So hang in there and let your child know you are committed to helping him achieve. If the struggle continues and you don’t get the help you need, ask to make an appointment with the school psychologist or resource specialist.
Emphasize your child’s effort–not the grade. Research finds that when parents put undue emphasis on grades, learning suffers. So instead acknowledge any effort your child is making.
Celebrate success. Remember that “success” is really a four-letter word: G-A-I-N. Celebrate those little gains your child is making. (“You had a D last quarter. Now you’re at a C-.” “You’re improving!!! I know it’s frustrating, but look at your score last week and how much you improved this week!”)
Above all, hang in there and don’t give up!
Stay tuned for the next parenting resolution on improving your child’s backtalk and attitude!