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Energize your child's academic performance

By Jessica Patton, Instruction Manager at Fort Wayne Center for Learning

It’s the middle of a long, cold winter and the sun is on the horizon. Will it rise or sink becomes the question. Many parents begin to ask the same questions as their child’s motivation, effort and energy wane in what seems, at least to them, to be a never-ending school year. You are exhausted from arguing and nagging about grades and they are exhausted from trying to “do better” but never quite meeting the mark.
The following are a few ideas for shaking things up and putting some fresh energy into the second semester.

  1. Hold a quarterly meeting. Get a copy of your child’s grades, including specific assignments and analyze them together. Look for trends such as missing work, or homework vs. test grades.
  2. Set obtainable, specific goal(s). Using the analysis above, ask your child what they would like to accomplish and mold these statements into goals. Some goals might be, “I won’t have any zeros,” or, “I will write in my planner every day,” or even, “I will make the all A/B honor roll.” Unfortunately, “I’ll do better,” is heard often but is without a specific plan, it’s often unobtainable.  
  3. Develop a plan for obtaining the goal(s). The plan is as individualized as the goal. Get the plan started by saying, “Wow, that is an excellent goal. What can I do to help you reach it?” Help your child develop a specific plan that allows them to work as independently as possible.  Create a chart with the goal, the steps of the plan, and a space to track how the plan is being followed.  
  4. Establish a routine. Doing homework at the same time every day can help avoid the homework battle. Set aside an “appropriate” amount of time to complete assignments. It is crucial that your child does not rush through doing or checking through homework.  
  5. Make a “Homework Factory.” Allow your child to do his/her homework as independently as possible. When the homework is finished, it gets handed to you and you check for accuracy.  Simply circle the incorrect answers and return the page. If necessary, hold a mini-lesson on difficult subjects and then allow your child to correct his/her answers. Repeat the process as necessary.
  6. Reward direction, not perfection. Praise your child for taking steps toward achieving their goals and continue to support them regardless of how small those steps might seem.