Three Simple Steps to School Success

       Every parent wants their child to do well in school.  When kids are in elementary school, parental influence and assistance is usually plentiful.  Parents generally understand the content well enough to help their children during homework time.  And elementary children are more likely to do as they're told to do, and to respect the authority of adults in the school.  They generally want to please their parents and their teachers.  When elementary students struggle academically, public schools provide lots of help and assistance in a caring and nurturing way.

       As children move on to middle school and then to high school some of those attributes that helped students to be successful in elementary school tend to lessen.  The school work is more rigorous, children are more concerned with pleasing their friends, and parents who may feel that their children should be more responsible for their school work may take a step back when it comes to reminding them of due dates.  Also, parents may find that they can no longer help their children with homework due to the level of the content.

       Still, all students can do well in school and here are five simple steps that can help:

1.  Do your best


       I know this sounds trite and cliche, but I'm going to define "doing your best" in a way that may sound different from what most would think.  It doesn't mean getting an "A" or even necessarily striving for an "A" all of the time.  In fact, "doing your best" has little to do with the way your child's school assesses students.  Instead, it has everything to do with your child looking into the mirror at the end of the unit or a marking period or the school year and being able to say that he/she did everything they could to be successful.  Sometimes students really, honestly don't have time to everything that are asked to do.  Sometimes they ask for help and stay up late to study and take on the responsibility for their learning and end up with a "C".  That's OK.  But if the child feels that he/she didn't do their best, then this is the time for self-reflection about what can be done differently the next time.  Everyone (including adults) fall short of doing their best sometimes.  Striving to do better is part of what we want students to learn in school.

2.   Adult support outside of school

       Middle and high school students are not too old to need support from a caring adult outside of the school building.  Students today have lots of distractions and when given the choice between school work and social media it can be hard to plan time for both unless someone is there to help.  In 2006 there was a study of high school dropouts.  Many high school dropouts in this study said that they would have tried harder if someone insisted that they try harder.

"Nearly 7 in 10 respondents (69 percent) said they were not motivated or inspired to work hard, 80 percent did one hour or less of homework each day in high school, two-thirds would have worked harder if more was demanded of them (higher academic standards and more studying and homework), ..."

3.  Get involved

       Students that are involved clubs and sports and other school activities discover that "school" is more than a place with teachers and homework.  Involvement in activities helps students to connect with other students who have similar interests and these connections can be positive in and out of the classroom.



       School success should not be all about grades.  We want students to graduate with lots of skills that can be hard to measure with the standard "grade".  These include:  communication skills, computer and technological literary, adaptability, research skills, problem solving skills, strong work ethic, and conflict resolution skills--to name a few.

       Our public schools along with home support help our students to succeed.




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