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New calendar year, same school year…
Posted on January 5, 2015, by GAPMP
New Year, new fears…. Have you ever noticed that once holiday break is over it seems like the whole school year has passed you by? If your child is struggling in school this is a sure fire way to bring on a parental panic attack.
I find the best remedy for staving off this is to:
- Cut down on my caffeine intake
- Troll some of my bookmarked websites for inspiration and advice
- Go outside for some fresh air for a minute or two
Numbers 1 and 3 on this list you have to do on your own. But I can help you with 2.
The first thing to do is identify the number one issue and then set a goal. Read on to see an example from my work as a parent mentor.
Middle School age son is miserable at school. He gets in trouble for bullying. He is failing every subject. Getting him out the door in the morning takes an act of Congress and getting him to do homework after school makes her want to pull her, and his, hair out. He has ADHD and mom is at her wits end. She has other kids and a full time job and a husband and she is at the point of giving up. She feels that the school has labeled her son as a trouble maker but … he is a good kid.
This is such a tough situation. Usually this phone call results in this mom and I meeting with the folks at school to sort out a couple of issues such as: have there been any documented incidents regarding the child’s behavior? If yes, we ask to see them. And then discuss them on an issue by issue basis.
If no, we go straight ahead to discussing academic performance. This mom is really good at sticking to consequences and is very careful about doling them out. She knows she has to live with the punishment as well.
Depending on whether the immediate issue is discipline issues or academic we (meaning mom and the school personnel) will set what we think are achievable goals and timelines. We start with easy ones like: no discipline referrals for a week, or, turn in all homework assignments in math for a week. This way you can deal with the big problem of passing eighth grade one week at a time.
Here is a great website that offers expert advice: http://www.empoweringparents.com/Child-and-Teens-Failing-School-How-to-Help-Your-Kid-Stay-Afloat.php#
And, here is my go-to website for all bullying and discipline related issues: http://www.pacer.org/school-discipline-information/ http://www.pacer.org/bullying/
Maybe it is a teacher issue: Mom believes that this teacher “hates my son.” Well, that requires meetings at the school as well. Every possible issue with this child requires increasing the level of mom’s involvement in this young man’s education AND it requires communication between home and school. We have all experienced a situation during our child’s school career where the teacher/student bond is less than happy. It still comes down to setting goals and working through the problems by employing clear, effective communication. This is about getting this child through eighth grade, not making a lasting friendship with the teacher…
So, a goal might be: teacher will send home (via text or email, so mom gets it) a progress report about behavior once a week which will be acknowledged by parent with a response and teacher will agree to call the parent that afternoon if a discipline referral or incident occurs.
Here is another great resource to help: http://www.parenting.com/article/5-smart-ways-to-handle-teacher-troubles
Now, what about academics? This mom has told me repeatedly that if her son can’t do the math, she is of no help because she can’t either. So, what could happen here? Yup… you guessed it, have a meeting with the teacher. The parent met with the math teacher, who, it turns out, stays until 4:30 at least once a week just to be available for students to catch up on assignments or, for those who ask for a little extra help. Naturally, her son did not provide her with this information, although the teacher had suggested it to him repeatedly during the first nine weeks. He started meeting with the teacher weekly and his grades started improving slowly. It also helped in a less obvious way because the student and teacher got to know each other a little better and although this was already a good teacher/student relationship… (this was not the teacher this student “hated”,) her son started feeling better about math.
And, this is the part where I roll out some helpful links:
I apologize for the length of this link, but, it is great advice for helping with math. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/how-to-help-kids-with-tricky-math-homework?utm_source=newsletter_march_18_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_content=text&utm_campaign=ldnews-teasertext
This is a less complicated link for help with reading. One of my favorite principals loves this site, but it is targeted more for elementary school ages: www.readingrockets.org
I like this one too: http://dyslexia.yale.edu/PAR_10thingstohelpchild.html
Typically, I wonder about some of the resources in this particular website because it is about school feedback and I have no clear indication of the validity of the sources (see disclaimer at the end of this blog). However, I like the advice they give and, it is a lot of the same stuff I hear teachers telling parents in those all-important meetings. So, I have posted this one about middle and high school students who struggle with reading:
OK. I have provided quick links if you scroll down, but I thought you could cut and paste into your bookmarks if they are provided in the full form. Use the way that works best for you. Happy 2015 ya’ll.
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