Parents have great hopes, dreams, and wonderful goals for their children. For decades, education has been the key to opening that door of opportunity. But nothing creates more anger and disappointment than a surprise poor grade on your teenager’s high school report card. As a teacher of seven years, I have some advice for parents. Avoid the shock and awe by engaging your child, his/her teachers, and be an example of a life long learner.
Talk to your son/daughter
Teenagers are a troublesome lot. They think that they know better than their antiquated parents. Their teenage problems are theirs alone because their parents couldn’t possibly understand. Of course parents can understand. True, times are different, but issues of success, self-confidence, trying to find one’s identity, and navigating friends and dates are similar enough to decades ago. Hopefully, parents have established solid relationships with their children so that they feel comfortable enough to keep the lines of communication open. While prying too much can cause conflict, ambivalence is worse. Don’t assume that your child has it all together. Engage in conversation and not just about education. Talk to your kids about life, your hopes, your struggles, and theirs.
Touch base with your kid’s teachers
High school used to be a place where students were just expected to learn and parents were notified when there was a behavior problem or a failing semester grade. But there are so many moving parts in today’s high schools that it is imperative for parents to touch base with teachers. With today’s technology, many schools post grades as soon as teachers enter them into the school’s database. Email is a wonderful tool for parents to drop a line. As a former teacher, I tried to respond to parent emails within 24 hours with factual evidence to support my analysis of the student in question. Parents were appreciative, students often responded, and there were never any surprises at parent teacher conferences or at the end of the year. Your life is busy, but your child’s education is too important to wait for the report card. Know what is going on and show your child that you are vested in his/her success.
Take part in your child’s education
Learning is a lifelong endeavor. What better way to send that message than to show your child that you too are always learning?
Is your daughter struggling with her French pronunciation? Why not take some French lessons yourself and attempt to engage your daughter in French? My Mom is fluent in Italian and helped me practice my Italian pronunciation many times when I was growing up (she still corrects me to this day!). When we came across something she couldn’t explain, she sought further information.
Being a part of your child’s education is an important signal for your teenager. This level of support can yield wonderful benefits for his/her education. This level of engagement and willingness to learn can propel your teenager to take more initiative and handle the rigors of independent university life.
By engaging your child, his/her teachers, and being a part of his/her learning process, you can guide your child to academic success and avoid the anger and frustration of a bad high school report card.