How Can I Help My Child Succeed?
1. Understand that students develop at different rates: Some students, especially freshman and sophomores, will still need structure and support at home. Trust your intuition. Experiment.
2. When students say they have no homework, encourage them to review old material or preview upcoming material. For example, they can make note cards for their English and language classes and review them frequently. They can review history notes, look over an upcoming math chapter, or write their own practice tests for science. In Focus on Success, we work to help the students understand that doing the homework is not the same as understanding the material.
3. Encourage your students to teach you—and solidify their own learning. Learning theory has proven that we learn a little by reading, more by discussing, and most by teaching others. . Quiz them for tests, even if you don’t know the material well.
4. Consider working together—you pay bills at the table while your student does homework, or have your student do homework at the counter while you prepare dinner. Some students resist doing homework because they feel isolated working alone. Even strong readers can enjoy reading textbooks or English novels aloud together.
5. Be aware of your students’ primary distractions. For most teenagers, it is the computer: while doing homework, they instant message, check their Facebook account, watch a movie, play a computer game, and download music. Research shows that today’s tech savvy teens are better at multi-tasking than adults, but for every task they add, their brains’ ability to think clearly and deeply and to retain information is reduced. When students feel as if they have been doing hours and hours of homework, encourage them to work with fewer distractions and see if their efficiency improves.
6. Help students break down big tasks into smaller steps. All Focus on Success students have goals for the future and want to be academically successful. Sometimes when students appear to be unmotivated, they are actually feeling overwhelmed and fearful and are avoiding the source of their discomfort. In this case, what students most need is someone to sit with them and help them break what seem like impossible tasks into small, manageable steps. If your child is avoiding talking to you about a certain class, he/she may be falling behind.
7. Share strategies for managing stress and channeling emotions. Some students have trouble learning when they are emotionally overloaded. Encourage them to see a counselor, write in a journal, take a long walk, exercise vigorously, etc.
8. Encourage students to eat well and get enough sleep.
9. Encourages students to participate in school activities. Students tend to do better academically when they feel connected to the school, when they participate in a sport, join a club, sing in the choir. They may need support learning how to prioritize and balance all their obligations.
10. Ask your students what kind of support they need to be successful at school and follow through. For example, if students says something such as “I would like you to enforce a no-talking-on-the-phone rule from 7-9,” tell the students you are going to stick to the rule, even when they complain.
11. Name strengths. In a school of hyper-achievers, many students have trouble recognizing their gifts. Point out your students’ strengths: that you notice they have leadership qualities, are creative problem solvers, are peacemakers, are artistic, have a sense of humor, are reliable, etc.
12. Keep in touch with your Focus on Success teachers.