Mid-Year Academic Jeopardy

February 12th, 2013 posted by Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington

For many teachers, the middle of the school year has come to signify the “make or break point” for students in academic jeopardy. If first-semester grades were mediocre or poor, it’s a strong indication that students lack the skills they’ll need for the increasingly difficult work in the next two quarters – and for the statewide tests and other exams that will cap the school year. In an effort to ensure that more parents and families take action at this critical time, Huntington Learning Center offers the following recommendations.

Talk with your child

. Ask your child why he or she received poor grades, then work together to develop a plan for improvement. It’s important for your child to know that you take the situation seriously, and that you believe in his or her abilities.

Figure out which skills your child may be lacking

. It’s important to remember that every drop in grades indicates that valuable skills are being missed. An effort should be made to learn and reinforce those missing skills. But while this is being done, it’s also important to identify and remedy the basic problem. If your child has had difficulties in basic addition, subtraction or multiplication, for example, that may be hindering his or her ability to perform more complex mathematical equations. Problems in reading and spelling may likewise be inhibiting success in reading comprehension and writing assignments. Improving basic skills can be one of the best ways to prepare for more demanding academic work.

Take a closer look at attitudes and habits

. Sometimes, bright students get bad grades for behavior-related activities. Does your child hand in his or her homework? Is it correct and on time? Is your child bored with schoolwork, and not paying enough attention? These are not excuses; they are symptoms of different problems. Once you identify these issues, you can search for the right ways to address them.

Take a look at the home learning environment

. Recognizing the tremendous impact of homework on grades and academic achievement, parents should take special steps to create the right environment for studying at home. Establishing a quiet, well-lit space for studying will help your child focus on homework, and significantly enhance his or her ability to retain material. Be sure to have materials such as paper, pencils and pens, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a calculator readily at hand. The seating area should be moderately comfortable – with a straight-backed chair that will keep your child relaxed but alert as opposed to soft upholstery, which can encourage drowsiness. It’s also a good idea to have enough space to read and write in the same area. //

Make sure you’re created an adequate learning schedule

. Setting aside a designated period of time after school or in the early evening that is to be used only for schoolwork is a strategy that has been proven effective for countless students over the years. There are several factors that can influence the decision about which time is best. One of the most important relates to your child’s rising and falling energy levels. Some children, for example, may complete homework more successfully by beginning immediately after school, leaving the rest of the late afternoon and evening for other activities. Others may need time to “wind down” after being in school all day before they’re relaxed and focused enough to complete homework successfully.

Make sure your child is not over-scheduled

. Keeping in mind the significant amount of study time most children need to make good grades, take a look at all of the other activities that your child wants to fit into his or her day. Have a frank discussion to determine which activities are most important to your child, and see if you can arrive collaboratively at a decision about which should be pursued. Then see if you can also determine, together, the best time to be set aside for studying in the midst of these activities.

Talk with your child’s teacher or counselor

. Your child’s teacher and counselor are professional educators. Listen to their observations about your child’s interests, aptitudes and learning style, and find out about specific tactics to help your child improve. Finally, parents should recognize that help is usually available, both in the school environment and through after school and weekend programs focusing on specific skills. “Virtually every student faces academic struggles at one or more points in the year, but the mid-year point can be the ultimate crisis – or opportunity,” says Dr. Raymond J. Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. “Doing nothing and simply hoping your child will do better probably won’t be helpful. But parents who take action now really can get students back on track before it’s too late.”

Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington (12 Posts)

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