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To parents, from teachers: we need your help!
Queue Scene 1:
Mom sits in the teacher’s classroom during parent-teacher conferences.
Mom: “I am shocked that Bobby has a D in your math class! I ask him each day when he gets home from school how he is doing and he always says ‘fine.’”
Narrator: “Things, in fact, were not fine. Bobby had not turned in his last three assignments, slept during the recent test review, and received a 65 percent on his math test.”
Queue Scene 2:
Bobby sits in his bedroom after dinner.
Mom yells to Bobby: “Are you working on your homework?”
Bobby yells back: “Yes, mom!”
Narrator: “Bobby, in fact, was not working on his homework. He was on his third Mountain Dew, was playing the latest video game, and continued to do so until 3 a.m.”
As we prepare to start a new school year, I want to urge parents to be an active teammate with your child and your child’s teacher to help them succeed.
These suggestions will work for students of all ages but it is mainly geared toward middle school to early high school students. I have been a math teacher for over 20 years and I believe parent involvement is one of the most important factors of a student’s success in school.
Below are some helpful tips to get the most out of this year:
1. Help your child stay organized.
>> Use a planner! This planner does not have to be anything elaborate—just a spiral notebook with a list of their classes will do. The older a student gets, they will have more and more moving parts to keep track of—a paper due three weeks from now, a project due next Friday, quizzes, tests, homework. Now times this by seven classes. Your student must find a system that keeps them on top of their game.
>> Keep backpacks organized! At least once a week, please open your child’s backpack and look for stray papers. If you must, grab some folders, take that backpack and turn that mother upside down to dump it all out and get the loose papers in their proper class folders.
2. Get in your child’s business.
>> Check their grades online at least once a week, even if they tell you all grades are fine. What does “fine” really mean? Could it be that they just want out of a potentially uncomfortable conversation? With grades being so easily accessible online, parents have no excuse not to know how their child is doing. If you do not have your own account in the grading system, use your child’s credentials.
>> See any low grades? Email the teacher to see how your child can work to improve the grade. Bobby’s go-to line to defend his poor math grade may range from “the teacher does not like me” to “the teacher cannot teach the way I learn.” Bobby’s tune may change rather quickly when he realizes Mom is going to talk to said teacher.
>> Have them show you what they are working on and write down the goals they want to accomplish in each class. Read their English paper, look at their math homework, talk with them about the Civil War before their history test, make sure they are not using PhotoMath on their math homework to just copy the work and answer.
Queue Scene 3:
Mom asks Bobby if he has homework tonight. Bobby says, “No.”
Narrator: “Bobby, in fact, has an English paper due in a week and has not written the intro yet, his science project is due in three days, and he has not yet made those Spanish vocabulary flashcards for the quiz on Friday.”
3. Dedicate a time after school for your child to work on school work.
This work needs to be done in a public area of the house without phones or TV. Have your child give input as to what time works best for them.
>> Parents, there is always something your child can be working on. We need to readjust what we view as “homework.” Homework is anything your child can do now to prepare for eventual success. Bobby can write the intro to that English paper, make those Spanish flashcards, work on the science project, practice math facts on Khan Academy, take a practice ACT test, read a book—the possibilities are endless.
>> Remove the TV from your child’s bedroom and have them charge their phones overnight in the kitchen or a room other than their bedroom. They will thank you when they are 40 with kids of their own.
Your kids crave structure and will thrive with a routine that will set them up for success. We, teachers, want to team up with you to create an environment where your child can reach his or her full potential. If we all do our part, we will make this a reality. Let’s make this upcoming year the best year yet!
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