The first six weeks of the school year are critical. It is a time when routines are created and first impressions are made. It sets the tone for the rest of the year.
This is why it is important for parents to check in with their kids in September to ensure things are going well.
Most school systems now offer a portal that allows parents to see their child’s grades, including grade updates and even upcoming assignments. This is a HUGE tool that can help parents as they guide their kids. Be sure to take advantage of this ability and check in there often.
Many of these portals have a feature that allows parents to tailor their notifications. Maybe you want to be notified for every grade or maybe you only want to be notified if your child earns less than a C? If your child knows you are keeping up-to-date on their grades (and there are consequences for not completing assignments or achieving certain benchmarks), they will be better incentivized to do well or ask for help when they need it.
Another tool that can be helpful for parents is via Google Classroom, which is used by many, many teachers. Parents can allow for notifications on Google Classroom that will send them a summary of assignments that their student had during the week that came through their Google Classroom school account. Usually on Fridays, Google will send an email so parents can see what was due during that week. These summaries also give them insight into what their child is studying in more detail and allows for conversations with your child. For example, “I saw on Google Classroom that you are studying metaphysics in Philosophy class. What is metaphysics, exactly?”
Parents often ask their children “How was school?” which, unfortunately, only elicits a one-word response, which is usually “Fine.” But there are other questions you can ask that will give you better insight into their daily experience:
- Who is your favorite teacher so far? Why do you like this teacher?
- Who is your least favorite teacher so far? What don’t you like about this class?
- Which class is easy for you? Why is it easy?
- Which class is challenging for you? What makes it a challenge?
- Who do you sit with at lunch?
- What did you learn today that was new or interesting? (Even if it wasn’t in class.)
- Who got on your nerves today at school?
- Who made you laugh today at school?
- What are you looking forward to the most?
Be sure to talk with other parents too. We are a community after all. Usually any issues you experience have already happened or will happen to someone else. Other parents can be a great resource for other ideas on how to stay ahead of the issues we all face during the school year.