We often call this time the “End of the Honeymoon Period” in school. Why is this? Well, typically everyone is at their best for the first month or two of school. That is, teachers are patient and have low expectations regarding their students’ behavior and work habits. Parents are on high-alert to make sure their child is doing his or her homework and turning it in on time. Kids are refreshed from a few months off and put their best foot forward.
And then what happens? Life happens! Teachers become busy and overwhelmed with papers to grade, Back to School Night, and meetings. Parents are impressed with their child’s initial effort and begin to back off and focus on the tasks of running their household or working. Kids miss one assignment, then another, and start to “check out” because of the stress associated with school.
Is this your reality? Now what?!? Below are three tips to help your child succeed, this week.
1. Check Parent Portal
Most schools now have online access to teachers’ gradebooks. Teachers are expected to update them regularly and parents are expected to check them! If your child is in lower elementary school, you may need to check it yourself and make a list of any missing assignments or low grades. If you have a fourth grader or older, sit with your child and do this together. Make two lists: missing assignments and low grades.
If you notice that a certain class or subject consistently scores lower, plan on scheduling a conference with the teacher. Often, kids will not turn in work when they are confused and feel that they “can’t do it.” This may indicate gaps in his or her understanding of the content. For example, if you notice he or she isn’t turning in math assignments, it may be because your child would prefer to get a “0” than a “F.” Missing work or the appearance of “laziness” is oftentimes a coping mechanism students with learning difficulties use.
If you notice missing assignments across the board, your child may have an executive function problem. Executive Function is the ability to plan, organize, and remember material. If you suspect this may be the problem, contact us for an assessment and help.
2. Check your Child’s Planner
Look in the planner provided by your child’s school. Your child should have written down homework for every subject nearly every day. If your child has many missing assignments, this may be because he or she isn’t writing down homework and has many “blanks” in their planner. Talk to your child about this. Does he or she rely on the teacher posting homework online? Does he or she run out of time to write it down? Ask! If your child says they are relying on the teacher to write it down, ask them to write it for themselves, as well. Teachers are often busy throughout the day and after school and forget to update their webpages. If he or she runs out of time to write it down, ask your child’s teacher(s) if he or she can take a picture of the board or record homework as a voice memo.
If this is a consistent problem, you may need to require that your child gets his or her planner signed by the teacher every day until he or she is consistently writing down their homework independently. You will need to continue checking their planner until the matter is resolved.
3. Make a Plan
Based on what you’ve learned about missing assignments and grades, make a plan for moving forward. This may mean writing out a daily schedule for after school time that looks like this:
3:30-4:30 After School Activity (Dance, Soccer, Etc.)
7:00-7:30 Nightly Reading
7:30-8:00 Relax and Prepare Tomorrow
This schedule will vary based on your child’s age. Younger children should not have too many after school activities that they are unable to complete their homework and relax with their family. Older children will have more outside commitments and homework. They will still need your help in planning their time. Additionally, they will need your help in enforcing the schedule. As they become better at managing their time, they will need less support. However, at the beginning of each school year you will most likely need to revisit the schedule.
Additionally, make a plan to turn in missing work. Many teachers will give partial credit for late assignments. Work with your child and their teacher(s) to complete missing assignments in a reasonable amount of time so that they can get back on track.
Finally, remember that we are here to help. If you need support in accomplishing any of these steps, Center for Learning can make it happen!