(and what you can do about it)
1. Miscommunication – For example… because parents often check, talk about or ask about grades, students frequently interpret this as meaning that grades are the only thing parents care about.
Most parents agree that while grades are important, their top priorities are more related to students taking ownership of their work, following through, and overall making good and responsible choices. Let them know what matters most. Assumptions like these work both ways. Frequently, we see students upset because their parents have grounded them or become angry about zeroes or online grade book issues. It’s important to remember that those grades don’t always tell the full story. Teachers are human and make mistakes, in addition to sometimes using the 0 as a placeholder for an assignment that hasn’t yet been graded.
Before anyone reacts, clarify the situation. Students can advocate for themselves with teachers and explain to parents what really might be going on (and if it IS that they lost an assignment or forgot to turn it in, then that can be dealt with as well). Sometimes it’s helpful for students to send the teacher an email (copy or forward to parents) to confirm the conclusion/resolution and show they can take ownership.
We encourage students of all ages to regularly check their OWN grades and update their parents about the details. Parents checking grades on a daily basis generally causes undue stress on both the parent and the child.
2. Lack of clear expectations – Is your child aware of your expectations and what is truly important to you? Is it grades? Planning? Follow through? Responsibility? Make that clear, and be sure to let them know what being successful looks like. Are these realistic? Is your child capable of these yet? or capable of doing more?
Check out our blog “Get On The Same Page As Your Student This Year” for a free downloadable tool and an example to help guide you! Map out a plan and have these conversations now to avoid stress and arguments later.
3. Lack of self regulation – Now, of course, I am generally talking about students here; however, will say that most parents (myself included) find consistency and follow through to be incredibly difficult given the busy nature of our lives.
Students may have the best intentions and plans; however, taking the necessary steps and following through can be challenging. Prepare for what might get in the way (procrastination, overwhelm, avoidance, frustration, distraction/lack of focus, not caring) and have conversations now about what can be done should those situations arise – and help hold them accountable.
This may be the hardest part, but the student who has trouble getting started on homework or who waits and scrambles the morning of might need some external supports such as gain or loss of privileges (ie. “If your planner is updated, homework is complete, the backpack is packed up, and clothes are laid out for the next day, you’ve earned some screen time!” or “If you aren’t completely ready by the time we need to leave or the bus comes, you’ll need to walk to school or find your own way).
The more visual and specific the expectations (ie. homework will be done by 10pm, planner will be updated with homework, tests and what you will do to study, chores will be done by 5pm – here’s the list), the better chance for success – and less stress for everyone! Create a daily routine checklist and post (or better yet, put in a frame or laminate so items can be checked off along the way and erased for the following day) – be sure those deadlines and reminders are on there too!
For templates and structures to help guide you (and examples to follow), check out our Manual for Student Success: Practical strategies for how to REALLY succeed in school and our School Success Plan (plus other great products in our shop).