Our plugged-in, scheduled-up lives move so fast these days. People hardly have time to take a breath and make a plan. But when it comes to school and families, spending a little time up front to share goals and work out schedules can mean fewer emergencies and less stress throughout the year.
First, talk about homework. Homework time-on-task will depend on your student's grade level and the coursework he or she is tackling. Individual differences need to be taken into account. One child may breeze through an essay, while another finds every line a chore.
Decide how you as a parent can assist and support the homework effort without taking away the goal -- your child practicing or proving what he or she has learned. And if a child is struggling on some assignments, it's important to assess what's going on and consider getting tutoring, a skills assessment or some other expert assistance to identify and overcome any roadblocks. Learning disorders and disabilities -- from dyslexia to attention deficit disorder -- can be stealthy and cause escalating problems.
Second, talk about grades. We all need to understand that grades are just a tool to assess if learning has taken place. Failing grades might indicate a bad lesson plan as much as an inattentive student.
However, if a child continually has difficulty in certain subjects, extra time-on-task may need to be the norm for those. Tutoring outside of individual study time might also be in order, as well as those educational assessments to ensure learning problems are not an issue. Sometimes a fresh approach to a subject can be the key to a student's understanding. Above all, have a game plan for turning poor grades around, then follow those steps. Don't wait until the situation gets to crisis level.
Finally, talk about extracurricular activities. So often these are not activities that simply fill empty spots in a student's day. For many, this is the time they pursue what they really love to do -- whether that be drama, public speaking or playing a mean game of chess. But with so many choices, schedules can get crazy pretty quickly. It's important to work out transportation issues and designate when school work will get done before students take on more than they -- and you -- can handle. Parents can set up car pools and trade off tasks to help support these important activities and avoid the need to be in two places at the same time!
No doubt, school days can be hectic, but what transpires as a result can be exhilarating for parents and students alike. Embrace the everyday chaos, and make a plan.