With school ramp up here, parents need to step up with strategies for maintaining their sanity. If you're like me and struggled with school the first time around, it gets worse when you have to guide your children through it. Now's the time that hear from parents of middle school and high school students that their children are not succeeding. They report that the honeymoon of the first semester is over, that their kids is failing. "How can we fix this?" they ask.
The reality is that academics between now and the end of year will be substantially more difficult than during the previous part of the school year, much of which was review. I know it feels like schools leave the tortuous part for just when it gets nice outside and spring sports become ever so much more demanding -- four baseball games a week -- you know what I'm talking about, right? Given this reality, what can parents to do to improve the situation and help their child to be more successful in school? Here's five full proof steps:
1. Don't sit back. Do the opposite. Start by meeting with your child's teachers to discuss your child's strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for accessing after school help. If you can't advocate for your kids, how do expect your kids to be able to advocate? I hear parents complain that their kids won't stay after, when parents are afraid to contact the teacher with questions too. Stop it. Do what you have to do; it's your kid were talking about. Involve your child in at least a portion of this meeting. They need to buy into getting help and what the help will look like.
2. Review homework daily. This means being a micro-manager. No one hates this aspect of parenting more than me and yet if I can't do it because either I can't stomach it or I'm not available, I will find someone else to do it. What are the options here? There are homework clubs, having your child stay after school three times a week to review in class work and review homework, there's having an adult sit down daily with your child to review assignments online and check assignments once completed and then there's do nothing which means that if your child is already failing that will he certainly continue to fail. Denial doesn't work when someone else is grading the papers.
3. Do not, I repeat do not, allow yourself to have daily power struggles with a child over homework. If you're like me and can't help your child with homework then find someone who can. If you can't pay them, barter. Find a someone who can work with your child and do their laundry, cleaning, whatever, in return. I spoke to a client who enlisted a neighbor to help her son. Single parents, you are in the worst situation but when it comes to kids needs, yet where there's a will, there's a way. Any person who holds it against you for begging for help for your kid is not a person you want helping anyway, so don't give them two thoughts. Instead, move on and find a decent person who respects the sentiment and wishes you were their mom or dad.
4. Make sure to keep the non-homework connection alive and growing. If it sounds like I'm giving you two assignments, I am. You need to oversee your child's most hated tasks -- homework and studies -- AND find ways to connect and have fun together. You can't become a single minded task master and not be hated. The relationship that your killing yourself for will crumble at the expense of what GRADES??? Are you kidding me? Let me remind you caring parents that the only reason you're making academics such a priority is because you're concerned about your child's self-esteem not the grades in and of themselves, correct? It's just if your child keeps failing, their self-esteem will take a beating and it's hard to recover from that. The "Oh honey you're not stupid" line works less and less the older they get and you have to find ways to show them they are really smart instead of just telling them and praying it works.
5. Now that the school year has ramped up, so have your needs, don't deny it! Make certain that whether its cards with the guys or wine with the girls or that new pairs of shoes or a trip to the nail salon; that every week you are doing for yourself, otherwise your tank will get empty real fast and no matter much you try to fake that it's full, people will feel the emptiness and run away from you. And then how good of a micro-manager will be if there is no one left at the house to manage?