Parents need to take hands-on role with high school students - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Communitylife

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Parents need to take hands-on role with high school students

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Posted: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 12:00 am

Recently, some experts have put forth the idea that parents should take a hands-off approach once a student reaches high school. They argue that by now, students should have developed the habits necessary to manage the increased work load and should begin relying on themselves.

But what if a student has yet to develop those habits? What if a student has poor organizational and study skills? Realistically, the student will most likely fail.

And, unlike grade school, failing in high school has stiff consequences.

In order to graduate, students must earn passing grades in 22 classes, thereby making it necessary to repeat any failed courses. Because summer school offers the chance to repeat just one class, students who struggle in two or more subjects often fall behind and find themselves in alternative schools by their junior year. Worse yet, some students become so discouraged, they drop out altogether. Therefore, parents of struggling students have no choice but to intervene.

Students failing subjects other than math and science need simple organizational and study skills. Fortunately, Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista have comprehensive Web sites that allow parents and students to track grades, print worksheets, review power points and view the week’s agenda. Parents can access virtually everything their student sees in class. Using these tools while committing to daily study hours will turn D-F students into B-C students in a matter of months.


Help your student get organized

Begin by making things easy. Put together a favorites folder on your PC that includes shortcuts to all class Web sites and online grade reports. Every Saturday morning, students should review their grades as well as the agenda for the following week with their parents. While remaining positive, parents may want to talk about homework and test scores discussing solutions and improvements rather than pointing out failures. Using the agenda and a calendar, students should make a list of what needs to be done every day that week.

During the week, parents of students with backpacks that resemble trash bags by the end of the semester need to assist their students in staying organized. As soon as students come home from school, they should empty out their backpacks to organize their papers. Parents need to check that their student placed everything in the correct folder as well as make/review the list of homework for that day. This makes it impossible for students to lose “stamped sheets” and forget to complete homework.


Teach your student how to study for tests

Parents should assign some extra homework guaranteed to improve test scores: flashcards. After school, students should make 10 to 20 flashcards per class over the notes taken that day. Studying these cards for just 10 minutes every day, including the weekend, will ensure students commit them to memory enough to pass a parent quiz three times per week.

During the parent quiz, parents hold up each individual card, and the student provides the answer written on the back. Place missed questions in the “tough” pile and correct answers in the “easy” pile. Repeat the tough pile until the student can answer all of them without hesitation. Doing this has the added benefit of preparing students for the pressure experienced while taking tests.


Develop good habits and then, hands-off

While students may complain about the interference for a few weeks, after earning better grades and hearing all the positive feedback from parents and teachers, students usually change their attitude. Stay committed to Saturday morning reviews, flashcards, and parent quizzes for an entire semester at the very least. Once a student experiences enough success, they will have the motivation necessary to continue this process without your assistance (although, you should always monitor your student’s grades). If your student returns to old habits, intervene yet again until the student makes this change.

The experts know of what they speak; by now, students should have developed these skills and should rely on themselves. But if they haven’t, parents must intervene in order to teach these skills to their children while they attend high school as this may be the last chance to do so. The sooner you get involved the better, as waiting for things to change on their own will only allow your student to fall further behind.


Shauna Cahill is a tutor, college planner and high school life coach in Ahwatukee Foothills. Contact her at (480) 794-0177 or

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