Everyone wants to see his or her child succeed in school. That’s a given. But one of the toughest things parents are faced with is how to figure out if their child is not doing as well as they should be. Many courses, especially mathematics, build on each other so that one skill must be properly mastered as it will be used in later skills. If a child falls behind early on, he or she could be behind for quite a while as they play catch up with his or her peers. That’s why early identification and intervention is key when it comes to your child’s academic success.
- Be proactive about your child’s grades. At the beginning of the school year, every system sends home a calendar with the dates for progress reports and report cards. Many systems also include “early release” days for parent conferences. Put this information on your refrigerator, put it in the calendar reminders on your cellphone, write it in big, bold letters where you will see it constantly. These grades and routine progress reports are the first step in identifying if your child is falling behind. But they do not have to be the only step. Many school systems now pay for online gradebooks so that parents can log-in and see what their child is working on and how they are doing on their assignments. If this is the case in your child’s system, get into the habit of logging-in weekly to see how your child is progressing. If they do not offer this, ask to see your child’s papers every night that they are returned. Keep a running list of the grades so that you can tell exactly how they are doing. One F will not destroy a child’s average. But a pattern of F’s means that there is something wrong and you need to address the problem before the end of the grading period.
- Talk to your child. Any educator will tell you that one of the most frustrating parts of a parent-teacher conference is when the parent arrives expecting everything to be laid at the feet of the teacher and when the teacher asks, “Have you spoken with your child about their grades?” the answer is a timid, “No.” Talk to your children daily about what they are learning. If your child can’t tell you what the topic is for that week in his or her math class, look it up in the book and help him or her figure it out. Showing them that you care is of utmost importance here.
- Quiz your child when the opportunity arises. You don’t have to interrogate your child, nor do you have to be a mathematical genius yourself to devise quizzes and tests to see how they are doing. Finding online kids math games or workbooks at the teacher’s store can give you a chance to gauge their ability and see if they need help before they are too far behind.
- Be sure to look at the data that is available. A lot has been said about the problems of over-testing our students when it comes to standardized exams. Many of these complaints are valid, but one area you should embrace is the abundance of data that you are given after these tests. Many children are ranked according to the standards they are taught as “Met the Standard,” “Exceeded the Standard,” or “Does Not Meet the Standard.” If you see that there is a particular area that your child needs help on, this is the perfect opportunity to see that they get this help. Many systems are now even offering diagnostic and pre-tests for these that can pinpoint areas where children are deficient so that an individualized study plan can be put together.
No one can overstate the importance of your child’s education. That is why it is so valuable for you to make use of every tool that is available in keeping track of their grades and their problem areas. Being proactive is the key to your child’s success.