Remember that “go get ‘em” attitude you and your child had at the beginning of the school year? That certainty that setting aside “homework time,” limiting TV and recreational Web surfing and staying in close contact with teachers would lead to top grades all year long? Unfortunately the mid-point of the school year can be a “make or break” time for addressing any problems that have held your son or daughter back. Taking a close look at the following indicators will help you determine if your child’s current studying habits and overall approach to school are making the grade:
Indicator #1: Grades and conferences
Take a look at your child’s overall grades during the first half of the year. If you believe your child could have done better, talk directly with teachers to determine any issues that are impacting his or her progress. It’s also important to tell the teacher about any issues that may affect your child’s academic success. Family tension, financial concerns, health issues or marital problems directly impact a child’s ability to concentrate in school. Creating a partnership between school and home is a responsibility that both parents and teachers share.
Indicator #2: Standardized test results
In recent years, parents and students have paid the most attention to standardized tests during the spring – when many states and districts administer exams that now determine a student’s ability to graduate or move on to the next grade. But you can get a good idea of which skills should be strengthened in advance by taking a second look at the results of other standardized exams that may have been given during the fall. If your child scored poorly in reading or mathematics at the beginning of the year, for example, pay attention to these areas as he or she prepares for the tests that will be given in just a few months.
Indicator #3: Homework
While some students tend to complete homework successfully all year, many may have fallen out of the “homework habit” as the December holidays approached. After a long break, January is a good time to ramp up for the coming months by re-establishing routines, such as setting time aside for homework each afternoon or evening and maintaining a specific area of your house or apartment specifically for homework.
Indicator #4: The Work/Life Balance
While sports, clubs and other school-related leisure activities can make the educational experience much more well-rounded and rewarding, they should never become more important than academic progress. It’s therefore important to find the right balance between leisure and learning time. Take a look at your child’s academic success during the first half of the year and weigh it against all of the extracurricular activities that filled his or her schedule. Were there enough hours in a typical day last semester to keep up with schoolwork while enjoying every activity?
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington is co-founder of Huntington Learning Center, which has helped children achieve success in school for 26 years. For more information about how Huntington can help your child, call 1 800 CAN LEARN.