Surviving the School Year

By Samantha Lambert


Whether your child is in elementary, middle, or high school, the next 10 months can be a smooth ride or a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Not only can there be stress for the student, but the parent as well. After teaching middle and high school and tutoring for 35 years, I have found many practices that help the student to be successful as well as helping to alleviate stress for parents.


1. From the first day of school, have a routine for completing homework in the afternoon or evening. For elementary students, right after school is usually the best time while young ones are still energetic. Many parents find that when they have their kids do homework after playing outside and dinner, they are dealing with a child who is pretty tired and cranky.


For middle schoolers who usually get out of school later in the afternoon, practices and lessons may take away from doing homework right away. Right after dinner is a good time to let them practice some self-discipline and get their homework done.


High schoolers have a schedule all their own. Research shows teenagers’ biological clocks are set for them to stay up late and sleep late. Unfortunately, high school usually starts early and ends by 2 in the afternoon. High schoolers then have practices, and many work part-time jobs after school.


It is important for parents to make sure their 9th and 10th graders are doing homework and staying on track. Eleventh and 12th graders need to take responsibility for their homework and classes, but parents can still stay in touch with teachers to make sure their kids are staying on top of things


2. All of us grew up receiving report cards in school. Report cards are distributed at the end of the grading periods and in most school systems, progress reports are also distributed halfway through the period. There is no excuse for a parent to say, “I did not know report cards came out!” Today’s parents also have access to their children’s grades online through what many systems call “Parent Portal.” If that does not work, call or email your child’s guidance counselor or the teacher.


3. School systems have a website, and each school has its own site. Those sites are chock full of information for students and parents. Many teachers have their own web pages and update their homework assignments each day. They also give a heads-up on when tests are coming and when big assignments and projects are due.


4. If you see that your child is struggling by the end of the first grading period, ask for a conference with the teacher or teachers. On the middle and high school levels, conferences are usually held with all of the student’s teachers attending, and many times the student as well. Schools provide tutoring for most subjects, or you can hire a private tutor.


5. Make sure your child has all the supplies he or she needs to be successful both at school and at home. Keep a container at home with items such as pencils, paper folders, spiral notebooks, poster board and colored pencils. If you are unable to afford a computer or high-tech calculator for your student, talk to their guidance counselor. Many high schools rent out calculators and loan laptops to students.


6. Make sure your child has some type of planner to write down assignments. Many schools provide those for their students, and they are invaluable.


7. Make sure you and your child know the school rules for electronic devices and cell phones at the start of the school year. There is no reason for a child to be socializing on his or her cell phone during class. They should be used for class work at the teacher’s discretion.


If you need to notify your child of something important, let them know at the start of the school year to always check for texts from you at lunchtime or after school. If there is an emergency, contact the school and ask them to call your child down to the office.


I know that sounds “old school,” but we Baby Boomers survived that way and it still works.

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