It's hard to talk with your kids about anything once they get to be a certain age it seems. It can be especially hard to talk with them about school if they are struggling. Even if you find the right time when they happen to be in an agreeable mood you still need to ask your kids the right questions to make any conversation about school meaningful. I can't tell you how many times I've asked parents about their child's study habits, where they do their homework, what time they do their homework, do they worry about tests, etc... I rarely get an informed answer back. Now in my opinion that's not the fault of the parents. Its more just the reality of teenage life today for kids, they like to keep things private from their parents. What I've done here is compile a list of questions that parents should be able to answer about their kids educational life. If there are some I missed please let me know. I will be updating this list regularly:
1. When your kid studies for a test, how do they actually do it?
Being able to answer this questions is very important. Most parents just think, my kid studies and that's enough. However, in many cases that studying is perhaps barely taking place or in reality isn't at all. Does your kid listen to music while they study? Do they text with friends? (Not always a bad thing depending on the kid. This can lead to some serious help for hard classes.) Do they use their computer while studying? Is the TV on? Where do they study? Do they use notes? Do they use online tutorials? Are they actually doing the practice problems themselves? As you can see, there is a lot more to studying than most parents realize.
2. When and where does your child do homework?
A lot of this overlaps with the previous question but it is just as important. Getting into a positive and regular routine in for doing homework is essential to academic success. The reality of class today (irregardless of whether you agree with it or not sadly) is that most required classes in school can be passed as long as all the work is completed. In discussions with many teachers the majority agree that almost all the failures they have are a result of students not completing work instead of doing poorly on assessments. If you are concerned with your student succeeding in class, ensuring they do their work is very important.
3. What are your child's personal expectations and what are your expectations for them?
It is very important that these two questions have the same answer. In reality it is an entirely different blog post which I will cover soon. I can say though that I've witnessed kids who have one view of themselves and their parents who have an entirely different view of their child in school. This is a very important thing to get on the same page about. Having expectations differ between parent and child can lead to significant stress and struggle for kids in class. Whether expectations are high or low they need to be in sync and they need to be realistic. More to follow on this tomorrow.
This really is just the beginning but these are 3 very important questions you should be able to answer about your child. Please feel free to share this with others who may benefit from it as well!