High school is an appetizer for the real world. Learning to be focused, goal-directed and on task will help your student be ready for success. Consider their strengths and weaknesses and begin working with them on ways they can optimize success. It is important to be proactive when working with your student, and regular communication is critical to learning about how they are feeling. The next step is to rely on your own wisdom and experience to craft a strategy that will enable them to be successful.
Learning to drive, spending time with friends and involvement in extracurricular activities are common distractions from studying and academic discipline. Now is the time to help your student intertwine their personal and academic interests. For example, if they like to sing, encourage them to take choir as an art credit in high school. Work with your student to help them set goals and provide incentives if they are able to GET their goals. Encouraging them and showing interest in their future will help them be focused and ready to work hard.
Students often have difficulty balancing all that is expected in high school. Help your student look ahead at what is due in each class. Purchase a planner and make sure your student is using it to keep track of activities, academic assignments and social events. Check your student's planner each day and consider offering an incentive if it is up to date. Be sure to help your student plan the time that is available after school each day. Encourage them to make lists and assign the tasks to designated study times so they can stay organized. Be sure they don’t wait until the day before an assignment is due to begin.
Start working on a four-year plan before high school starts. It is important that your student is registering for classes that will prepare them for college. They may be reluctant to take difficult classes, but the rigor will help them do well on college placement exams. They also can earn college credit by taking Advanced Placement classes or post-secondary option courses through a college or university. If they are struggling, be sure to seek help from a tutor. It is important that they seek academic support before their grades begin to slip. High schools provide counseling and academic advisers who can serve as a conduit for academic assistance.
Parental support is critical to student success. Parents serve as role models and set the tone for expectations related to academic achievement. In high school, students begin to experience more independence and sometimes pull away from parental advice. Eating dinner together and having meaningful conversation provides an avenue to learn more about how a student feels about class work. If a parent knows about an upcoming assignment or test, there is more opportunity to provide help, encouragement and support.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.