Small daily steps lead to math and science progress
Taking advantage of as many science and math classes as possible in middle and high school expands teens' college and career options. For success in these classes, encourage your teen to study every day. Your student should start study sessions by reviewing. Answering the sample questions in the chapter is also good practice. Remind your teen to avoid falling behind. Studying science or math is like climbing stairs. Progress is made step by step.
Give your teen the key to better notes
When students struggle to remember what happened in a class, it may mean that they need to take better notes. Share these note-taking strategies with your teen: Listen for what the teacher emphasizes and use abbreviations instead of writing down each word. Review notes as soon as possible after class while the information is fresh in mind. Then each evening, your teen can study the notes to reinforce understanding.
Provide structure to reduce afternoon risks
Did you know that the peak time for juvenile crime, as well as drug and sexual activity, is the afternoon? To promote safety after school, set clear rules about where your teen can go and responsibilities at home and away from home. Then monitor your teen's activity. Encourage your student to get involved in a supervised school activity such as band or a sport. It's also helpful to coordinate with other students' parents about curfews and rules for your kids.
Don't abandon rules to avoid a conflict with your teen
As children get older, many parents are tempted to relax their discipline rules. But teens still need limits. When everything else in their lives seems to be changing, they need to know your guidance will be constant. Don't give in to demands for more freedom just to keep the peace. Instead, give your teen the opportunity to earn more freedom by taking on more personal responsibility.
Use fun lists to get a helpful habit started
The emotional and physical changes that happen during the teen years can make many kids forgetful and disorganized. This is usually a temporary phase. But if your teen's memory needs a boost, help establish the habit of writing down lists. Have your teen make lists of favorite songs, restaurants, books, etc. Then encourage your student to carry the habit over to school and make to-do lists of tasks and assignments.
Volunteer to strengthen community and connection
Students learn a lot from volunteering. And few things bring parents and teens closer than working together to help others. Look for opportunities to volunteer with your teen. Check out groups such as the local branch of the American Red Cross. A local park may have clean-up days. Nursing homes and senior centers may also welcome friendly helpers. You and your teen could even do something on your own, such as putting together toiletry kits for the homeless in your area.
Plan for success at a parent-teacher conference
Parent-teacher conferences are not just for solving problems. They also help you ensure that your teen is doing as well in school as possible. To make the most of a conference, ask questions that dive deep into your teen's school life: What do you see as my student's strengths? Is my teen performing at, below, or above grade level? Does my teen work well independently? In groups? What can I do to help?
What should parents do when students cheat?
If you learn that your teen has been caught cheating at school, the first thing to do is stay calm. Next, get your teen's side of the story. Why did your student cheat? If your teen admits to cheating, offer thanks for telling the truth, then explain that cheating is always wrong. Talk about the consequences that will follow at school and at home. To move forward, work with your teen and the teacher to figure out how your teen can succeed without cheating.
Make it clear that learning is the point of education
Good grades are important, but learning is the real reason for going to school. When you discuss school with your student, ask questions that focus on what your teen is learning. For example, instead of asking about an expected math test grade, have your teen show you how to work some recent math problems. Ask about ways your teen has become a stronger writer, or which science experiments have been most interesting. These kinds of questions show that learning is what counts.
Teach your teen to manage time, hour by hour
Time management is a critical skill for busy teens. To encourage it, have your teen calculate the hours available in a week for activities, including studying (after subtracting time for sleeping, eating and school, there should be about 50-60 left). For one week, have your student keep an activity log during those hours. Then together, use the log to figure out the best times to study, like when your teen is most alert. Finally, have your teen plan the next week's study schedule.
Encourage your teen to join the fight against bullying
Bullying can be a problem in the teen years. That's bad news. But there is good news, too. At this age, teens are developing a strong sense of right and wrong, concern for others, and feelings of outrage about injustice. To help prevent bullying, discuss the different forms it takes and enlist your teen's help. Explain that it's important to tell a trusted adult right away if your student is aware of students threatening or bullying others.
Offer a challenge to deal with distractions
When an activity such as an online game or mobile app interferes with schoolwork, many parents take it away. But that may simply make the distraction more appealing to your teen. Instead, challenge your student to design a schedule that allows enough time to complete assignments with time to spare for the game when the work is done. Sticking to the schedule will strengthen responsibility and accountability.
Teens often learn self-discipline by trial and error
Research shows that self-discipline has a positive impact on students' grades, attendance and test scores. To help develop your teen's sense of self-discipline, avoid coming to the rescue (unless it's a matter of safety). A teen who experiences the consequences of forgetting to turn in an assignment, for example, will learn to plan ahead. You can also encourage your teen to participate in activities that require regular practice, such as playing a musical instrument or a sport.
Help your teen explore strengths and discover interests
One of the important ways teens can plan for life after high school is to learn more about their own strengths and interests. Encourage your teen to read a variety of materials that will introduce new possibilities. Suggest that your student ask people about their jobs and how they prepared for them. Then challenge your teen to try new pursuits and activities. It's the easiest way for teens to discover their strengths.
Resolve to help your teen have a great school year
Does the start of school seem like the "real" start to the year? Then make some New Year's resolutions! To help your teen's school year go more smoothly, resolve to: Meet with your teen's teachers before the end of the first marking period. Check with the counselor to make sure your student is on track to graduate and meet college admissions requirements. And whenever you can, attend school events that involve your teen.
Daydream with your teen about the future
Too many parent-teen conversations sound like business operations. Who needs to be where and at what time? Balance the business by occasionally engaging in a little daydreaming talk. Bring out hopes, dreams and ideas, and you'll build your teen's creativity and thinking skills. To get started, suggest a place you'd both love to visit and compare your reasons why.
Time with you supports your teen's learning
Most parents of babies play with their children every day. But the older kids get, the less time their parents spend relaxing and playing with them. One of the most important ways you can support your teen's learning is by spending time together. Find an hour this week when you and your teen can be together. Turn off your devices and play a game or get some exercise. If you can get outdoors, even better!
Encourage your teen to put opinions in writing
Many teens are interested in solving problems and improving situations in the world around them. Whether the cause is the environment or money for a new school building, getting involved is a good opportunity for learning. When your teen shows enthusiasm for a cause, suggest writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. Your teen will get an outlet for self expression and practice organizing thoughts in writing.
Suggest questions that lead to good decisions
If your teen wants help making a decision, offer questions rather than answers. Encourage your teen to ask: Which choice would I be most proud of? What choice would a person I look up to make? How far into the future will each choice affect me? If others are involved, am I treating them the way I want to be treated? What will the results of each choice be? How will I deal with those consequences?
Challenge your children to resolve sibling conflicts
Do your kids fight often? Getting along with others and treating them respectfully is an important factor in school success. But learning to do that starts at home. To encourage this, explain to your children that you won't resolve minor conflicts for them. They must try to work together. Have them list and discuss issues that usually cause disagreements, and focus on solutions rather than blame.