WHAT CAN PARENTS DO IF THEIR CHILD IS NOT MAKING GOOD PROGRESS OR IS FAILING IN SCHOOL?

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1 WHAT CAN PARENTS DO IF THEIR CHILD IS NOT MAKING GOOD PROGRESS OR IS FAILING IN SCHOOL? THERE CAN BE MANY REASONS WHY YOUNG PEOPLE PERFORM POORLY IN SCHOOL Attention or hyperactivity problems can make learning difficult Learning difficulties or different learning styles can result in a child feeling.... overwhelmed or stupid. Serious emotional problems, medical problems, or sensory issues can interfere with learning. 1

2 When parents don t enforce a rule that requires their child to get up and get to school, on time every day, it can result in their child missing school, missing instruction, falling behind, feeling overwhelmed, and failing. Being bullied, teased, left out socially, or becoming the subject of rumors and gossip can result in a child feeling unsafe at school. 2

3 Problems at home: a family member is seriously ill or mentally ill, a recent death of a loved one, loss of a pet, arguments, parental substance abuse, emotional/physical/sexual abuse, parental domestic violence, parental separation and/or divorce these kinds of problems often cause a child to worry, feel angry, anxious or depressed. Falling asleep in class, difficulty concentrating on school work, or behavior problems in the classroom often result from lack of sleep due to serious problems within the child s home. When young people feel overwhelmed, worried, anxious, depressed, angry, unpopular, or scared and unsafe at school, they often complain of vague physical symptoms. They actually do not feel well. 3

4 If there is no medical explanation, parents must explore what might be going on at an emotional level that may be interfering with their child s willingness to attend school and/or ability to learn. THERE ARE EXCELLENT WEBSITES INCLUDED IN THIS ARTICLE TO HELP PARENTS HELP THEIR CHILD WHO IS BEING BULLIED WHAT CAN A PARENT DO TO HELP A CHILD WHO IS NOT THRIVING IN THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT? Call or your child s teacher. Identify concerns you have about your child s lack of progress in school. Ask what you can do to help as the parent. Ask if a meeting with your child s teachers could be scheduled. Include your child in a meeting whenever possible. Perhaps you need to ask the school counselor if your child should be tested to see if your child qualifies for special education services. Request daily or weekly progress reports from your child s teachers. OR If your child s school posts a student s progress on their website and you have access to the internet (home, friend, local library), get your personal password from the school, and go online at least weekly. Parents are more successful getting their child to do assignments when they have the facts. Go online together. Review with your child the plan that has been made to improve school performance. Define, and put in writing, the behavior you expect from your child. 4

5 Make sure your plan describes a rule that states when, how often, and where your child is to complete school work. Clearly define what the consequences will be if your child decides not to follow the plan. Consequences need to include increased parental supervision and monitoring. Be prepared to sit next to your child during homework time. Never forget how much your encouragement and support means to a child who is struggling to successfully complete school assignments. Parents can really make a difference. 5

6 HELP YOUR CHILD GET AND STAY ORGANIZED WITH SCHOOL WORK Many young people do not have good organizational skills. They are clueless about what it means to be organized, how to get organized and how to stay organized. PARENTS CAN HELP! Decide with your child what will be used every day to carry things back and forth between home and school (book bag or trapper keeper or expandable file, etc.). Help your child think of it like a carpenter s tool box that is used to carry tools back and forth to a job. Next, identify the tools your child will need to do the job of being a student. A daily planner to record assignments is a MUST HAVE TOOL IN THE TOOLBOX (many schools will provide students with planners at the beginning of the year). Folder(s) to keep To Do and Done work separated. Folder(s) to keep corrected and returned work separated from current assignments that need to be turned in. Supply of paper, pens, pencils, etc. so your child is prepared for each class. Identify a quiet place your child will use to complete any homework. 6

7 BEING ORGANIZED AND HAVING ALL THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB OF BEING A STUDENT IS STEP #1 IN BEING A SUCCESSFUL STUDENT With your child, make a plan that will help your child stay organized and allow you to supervise. Once the plan has been agreed upon, write it down and also write down the consequences for failing to follow the plan. Decide how long you want to try the plan before you evaluate, with your child s, if it s working. You may need to change something and try something different. Make sure your child understands there is always a plan, it is to be followed every day, and YOU ARE CHECKING. Rule #1: The daily planner must come home every night and go to school every morning with your student. You may need to help your child learn how to take notes so that assignments are clear (what must be done, when it is due and what books need to come home). You may also want to help develop a plan so your child records when an assignment has been turned into the teacher. You need to check the planner every day. Make sure it is being used and the plan is working. If you don t supervise how your child is using the planner, you can t evaluate whether assignments are being completed and all work is being turned in on time. 7

8 Rule #2: Folders must be used to hold assignments so they don t get lost in a locker, fall out of a book, go through the wash, or get eaten by the dog. You will want to help your child develop a system for keeping school work separated into a minimum of three categories: To Do, Done, and Graded and Returned. You need to check folders daily until you have determined that the organizational plan you ve written down is working. Rule #3: Identify one location in the house where your child is expected to place, before going to bed, everything that is needed for school the next day. You are trying to train your child to get into the habit of being organized for the next day s job. This one location plan for being organized and ready for the next day of school eliminates forgetting or frantically looking for things in the morning. Following this plan also gives your child the ability to experience a more stress-free beginning to each school day and to arrive at school feeling confident and prepared for the day. You, the parent, always know where to look so you can check on assignments and organization. Help your child leave for school every morning organized, prepared and ready for a new day at school. Information that helps train a child to deal with bullies Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies into Friends and A Revoluntionary Guide for Reducing Aggression between Children, by Izzy Kalman, are available at your local library and through his website. 8

9 Understand the impact bullying may have on a child Bullying.html Excellent information about bullies and their victims Information on what parents can do if their child is being bullied Information to help your daughter es-0325.html This book tells the story of why and how girl fighting develops and changes from pre-school through high school years. It is based on research. Parents can explain to their bullied daughter what is going on. It also provides ideas for how to address and change the dynamics of girl fighting or bullying in schools and society in general. The book is available at a local Barry County library. It can also be ordered through 9

10 WHAT PARENTS CAN DO IF THEIR TEEN IS FAILING TO EARN HIGH SCHOOL CREDITS, HAS BEEN KICKED OUT, IS THREATENING TO DROP OUT, OR HAS DROPPED OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL Programs to help an older teen complete high school or earn a GED If your child is years old, at risk of dropping out or has quit school, the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, run by the National Guard in Battle Creek, is an alternative. Go online for information. You can download their application from their website. (Search: Michigan Youth ChalleNGE Academy) This program is an excellent alternative for some young people. If your teen is still in school, most high schools will work with you to make this transition once a date for enrollment in the Academy is official. Maple Valley, Thornapple-Kellogg, Delton-Kellogg, and Lakewood Schools all have an alternative high school program. Their programs teach academic and lifeskills. Each program offers slightly different programming and opportunities to make up credits, take the GED test, and enroll in a community college program. Maple Valley s ability to enroll out of district students in their alternative high school program is more flexible than other school districts. The Michigan Career Technical Institute, located on Pine Lake Road, will allow teens to make up high school credits or complete their high school credits onsite. A teen must be at least 17 years old. Call and ask to speak to someone about their high school credit completion program. Students come in and work on a computer to complete a course. There is a teacher on-site to offer assistance if necessary. Some local high schools will allow students to make up credits by going online or taking a correspondence course. Either one of these options is expensive and not recommended if your teen is not going to follow-through. Consult with your child s school counselor to explore either of these possibilities. 10

11 If your teen wants to go to a community college and is just not making it in high school, earning a GED is an alternative to explore. Many community colleges will accept a student with a GED. You can go on-line and download the GED pre-test so your teen can practice, at home, for the GED test. Or you can purchase the GED pre-test book from a book store. Taking the actual test must be monitored. The Barry County Jail has hired a person to assist inmates in completing a GED, and this person will also work with older, drop-out teens who want to complete a GED. The official GED certificate cannot be issued before your teen s class has graduated. However, verification that your teen has successfully completed the testing and earned a GED can be provided to an employer or community college. A waiver allowing the GED test to be taken early is required and the high school from which your teen has dropped out of school can provide the written waiver. Go to and look for Michigan GED Testing Jurisdictional Requirements. NOT EVERYONE LEARNS IN THE SAME WAY AND SOMETIMES THE REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM JUST ISN T A GOOD FIT FOR HOW SOME YOUNG PEOPLE LEARN. Parents may need to help guide their teen through the sometimes difficult steps in finding the right fit for completing this important step towards becoming a successful adult. WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO EXPLORE WITH YOUR TEEN, MAKE IT CLEAR THERE ARE ONLY TWO CHOICES: EARNING A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR EARNING A GED. Parental support and encouragement are very important when teens don t graduate, on time, with their high school classmates. For more help, contact Youth Service Bureau

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