Keep Your Kids on Track Academically
By Nora Heston Tarte
It’s inherent for parents to want their kids to succeed. Despite valiant efforts, some children struggle academically each year and seem to fall behind their classmates. Getting ahead of the problem could ensure success later where it may be harder for a child to excel in one subject or in school in general. According to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, two out of three eighth grade students cannot read properly, nearly two-thirds of eighth graders are not proficient in math and some 1.1 million American students drop out of school each year.
Addressing Common Concerns
Andy Bossaller, Center Director at Huntington Learning Center in Lodi, says goal setting is one tool parents can use to help their children stay on track. Goals should be reasonable. While asking a student who has good study habits and fairs well in class to earn straight A’s is plausible, asking the same of a child who struggles could lead to frustration.
“If your child struggled last year and ended up with C’s and D’s, talk with teachers right now about the subject areas that proved most troublesome so they can shape their instruction and find the extra help your child will need,” Bossaller suggests. Creating and enforcing a firm study schedule, taking action when you anticipate trouble, incorporating extracurricular activities into your child’s schedule and maintaining a can-do attitude are all steps parents and children can take to ensure academic success, Bossaller says.
Staying on task can prove troublesome for many students. Bossaller encourages parents to help their kids learn to focus and increase their attention span. Ensure your child is getting the basics – sleep and exercise. Once you’ve ensured poor sleep isn’t affecting your child’s ability to focus, start implementing other techniques for study time. “Many children get overwhelmed with larger projects or a lot of homework, causing them to become sidetracked when diving in,” Bossaller notes. “Teach your child to break down assignments into manageable parts and have him or her see each part through to completion.”
Encouraging organization, minimizing distractions and allowing for breaks are all techniques parents can implement to help their children succeed. Removing a cell phone or other electronics during study time can prove effective as can taking a 15-minute break.
Parents can avoid academic setbacks by preparing their children for school early. All students learn at a different pace, but feeling unprepared can hurt a child’s self confidence and result in a poor relationship with school.
“I truly believe early intervention is the best way to allow a successful start to a child’s school age career,” says Angel Hansen, owner of Theory of Play Child Development Center in Tracy. “Being familiar with your district’s academic recommendations are helpful when preparing your child,” Hansen explains. “The earlier you know what is recommended the more time you have to work with them.” Learning can be fun at this age. While children in kindergarten may be expected to know their shapes, colors, letters and numbers that doesn’t mean you have to sit down with flashcards to garner success. “There are so many ways to interactively learn letters, shapes, colors and numbers!”
Use the early years to prepare your child for their academic careers. Help your child develop a good attention span by sitting and reading with them and practice following directions by imploring simple commands. They may not get it right away, but practicing these skills will give them a head start.
What to do when Trouble Strikes
No matter how many steps you’ve taken at home, sometimes intervention is necessary. Bossaller says to watch for the following signs you may need to seek help from a tutor in order to help your child catch up:
- At report card time or during parent-teacher conferences, a teacher or school counselor has indicated that your child is having difficulty in one or more subject areas.
- Your child’s grades have been dropping regardless of how much time he or she spends on studying and doing homework.
- Your child experiences extreme anxiety before tests and/or resists going to school in the morning.
- Your child shows signs of lacking motivation and confidence, and loses interest in learning, even in subjects he or she used to enjoy.
- Your child dreads going back to school in the fall.
Set your Child up for Success:
Huntington Learning Center
63 S. Lower Sacramento Rd., Lodi
Theory of Play Child Development Center
2105 N. Tracy Blvd., Tracy