3 Tips to Help Struggling Middle School and High School Students
My Teen is Falling Behind in School
It's a complaint I hear all too often, "My kid is falling behind in school, not because he's not smart enough to do the work, but because he's distracted, he rushes through, he forgets to bring the right books and materials home...," the list goes on and on. If you parent a tween or teen, you also know that their interest in having you tell them how and when to do things is about as appealing to them as getting a root canal is to you!
How's a Parent to Help: 3 Simple Ideas
Helping your tween or teen get back on the road to good grades, completed assignments and more confidence in their abilities can be as simple as:
1. Let Them Be Responsible: Giving our tweens and teens more responsibility for their own performance is a key step to helping them become more independent. It's a major developmental task in the teen years to individuate from you, which is why teens tend to seek out the input and ideas of their peers more than their parents. (Don't be fooled, though. Your teen needs you just as much now as when he was two. You just have to figure out new ways to help them get their needs met in way they can accept.)
2. Teach Them Skills: Good time-management and organization skills set the stage for better academics. These skills are often not taught in the school-setting for a variety of reasons. But they are crucial to your child's success. Make sure you child knows how to keep things organized, how to remember what they need to bring home every day at the end of the school day and how to "get it all done". Your child will need how to plan for short-range assignments (what's due tomorrow), as well as long-range assignments (what's due three weeks from now). No more frantic Thursday night science experiment for the expo that is due the next day for the science fair! Good time-management skills are going to help in middle school, high school and beyond. They'll be called upon in college in a big way and will continue to be utilized once your child enters the work force. Build good habits NOW!
3. Coach Enthusiastically: Okay, so this might be a different approach than you are used to, but it's so worthwhile. Rather than telling your child what they forgot to do, what they need to do or what they have to do, start engaging them in conversations and cheer them on from the sidelines.
Instead of saying,
"You need to have that assignment finished tonight, or else," ask:
"Hey, how are things coming along with that assignment you've been working on?
"How far have you gotten?"
"How much more time do you think it will take to finish it?"
"Want to share with me what you've done so far?"
"Tell me about what you've learned most in working on this."
"What has been your favorite part of working on this? Your least favorite part?"
"What timeline did you set for yourself in finishing it?"
"How do you think you're doing so far?"
"How do you feel about your progress?"
Do you see how that changes things? It's a respectful way to acknowledge that your child is in charge of his assignments, but to indicate your interest as a parent. You are handing the responsibility for all of it squarely back to him. That changes EVERYTHING!
Try it. See if it doesn't help at your house! I guarantee, MOST of you will not be there to monitor your child's work habits at college. He needs to learn to do this FOR himself. Really!
But, I've Already Tried All of That!
Maybe you've tried all of the above and it still feels like a battlefield in your home when it comes to homework? We get it! Truly! And we can help!
What if we removed the hassle? What if we eliminated the back-and-forth struggle between you and your child and you could help him find some ways to be responsible for himself? What if you gave your child the opportunity to do it his way (with a little bit of expert support to get there) and you just could remove yourself (almost) from the equation? The Time Management for Teens (and Tweens) System was developed specifically for middle and high school students who might need an extra little nudge and some real assistance in how to "keep it all together".
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