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If your child attends a traditional school, it's progress report time. Unfortunately, this often means an unwelcome wake-up call for teens and their parents. Low grades can come as a shock, but the good news is that there are ways to turn it around. If your teen is struggling in a traditional school environment, you may not know how to support them. You want what's best for your child, and that means a plan to get them back on track. This is particularly true if your child is preparing to apply for colleges, where they'll be looking at high school transcripts.
So how do you help your struggling child?
Here are three strategies that will allow you to support your teen:
Talk it out with your teen
You might find it tempting to immediately try to fix the problem. But before you start making phone calls or issuing ultimatums, it's important to let your teen tell their side of the story. Give them an opportunity to explain their grade and how the school environment is impacting them. Often, there's more at work than a simple lack of understanding. Some students may feel uncomfortable asking questions, or they may have other factors that influence their ability to pay attention. Others may simply not learn well in a traditional classroom environment.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center indicates that 70% of teens view anxiety and depression as a major problem among their friends. The top pressure they list? Academics. A full 61% of teens cited the stress of trying to do well in school as a source of anxiety. If your child's grades are suffering, it's worth setting aside time to simply discuss what might be contributing.
Talk to your child about what might be going on. Ask them how the teacher presents new material, answers questions, and responds to conflict. Check in with their emotional and physical well-being, too. Is the class first thing in the morning, before they've fully woken up? Or do the other students contribute to constant distractions? Give your teen the chance to unload, validate their feelings, and make a goal of working together to move forward.
Set up a meeting with the teacher and your child
Talking to the teacher might not be a new idea, but it remains the easiest way to get more insights about how your teen is doing in their class. A grade on a progress report can only tell you so much; a teacher can add valuable context to the discussion. They can tell you what, specifically, seems to be a struggle, how your child is behaving, what the classroom culture is, and much more.
Include your child in this conversation, if possible. Odds are, they have their own thoughts and opinions, and they can work with you and the teacher to create an action plan moving forward. When you sit down with the teacher, ask targeted questions that will help identify your child's strengths and opportunities for growth. Then, discuss the different ways your teen could deepen their learning outside of the classroom, get more out of class time, and approach topics they're confused about.
As an added benefit, if you host the meeting in the classroom, you can get a sense of the school culture your child is immersed in. How organized is the room? Are there clear objectives? How big is your teen's class? The National Center for Education Statistics reports an average class size of almost twenty-five students in high schools in the United States. For many students, this is simply too much distraction to learn well.
Seek out academic enrichment programs
It's always helpful to have a fresh approach to old topics. If your child needs to enrich their studies, or even make up a course in its entirety, there are options outside of their traditional school environment. Organizations like Futures Academy provide focused, one-to-one instruction in a wide variety of subject areas. And you don't even need to enroll your teen full-time to benefit. Academic support is available in single courses and subjects, and the grade can be transferred back to their own school. This allows you to seek out an instructor and an environment that works for your teen. Individualized instruction that accounts for your child's learning preferences makes a massive difference in success, and one-to-one instruction eliminates distractions and provides ample opportunities for questions. The best part is that with open enrollment and flexible schedules, you can find an option that works for you and your teen.
At the end of the day, you want what's best for your child. Taking the time to consider their emotional well-being, work with their teacher, and find supportive alternatives will go a long way towards building their confidence and improving their academic performance. As a result, your child will be able to move forward towards college, or whatever their next step may be, with confidence.
To learn more about how Futures Academy can support your teen's academic success, contact us.