About that postcard you received...
It takes a village.
We are ALL that village.
1. Focus on the positive.
Every kid has good days and bad. Grades they're happy with and some, maybe not. But research has shown, over and over, that kids will enjoy school more, will learn more, and will have better outcomes if parents and others on their support team focus on what went well, not what didn't. They know well enough where they came up short, and reminders from their corner actually serve less as constructive criticism and more as a negative drag. Keep it positive for best results. If there's a serious issue that needs to be addressed, you'll know it, but most of the academic skinned knees and ankle-biters are harmless. But when we notice the positive, and praise our kids for their good work, they find ways to repeat those kinds of performances.
2. Forge relationships with your student's teachers.
Education really is a school-home-community partnership and, to the extent, your student knows that triad is working positively in their interest, they will benefit. We know you're busy and that it's hard to keep up with everything going on in your child's academic world, but a little bit of communication, even by email or through School Insight Chats. Also, if your student is experiencing any kind of challenges that may be affecting their ability to do their best work at school, just give your student's teachers a heads-up. That little bit of insight can go a long way. It really does take a village, and a positive, proactive partnership is at the center of that village's greatest strength.
3. Dream a little with your student.
Students who can see the connection between good grades, positive learning experiences, and a better post-secondary trajectory are five times more likely to do the heavy lifting it takes to succeed academically. So, help them discover their interests. Consider arranging a visit with a nurse, accountant, video editor, physical therapist, athletic director, civil engineer, or any other working professional, laborer, or person doing the kind of work your student thinks they might like to explore. Most people in the workforce actually appreciate the interest high school students express in the work they do and are happy to carve out 30 minutes to an hour to give them a better understanding as they plot their future. If this is something you need help with, we're happy to assist. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll help set up your exploratory visits with people in your local workforce.
4. Root out academic obstacles before they overwhelm.
Lots of students fall into a rut in certain courses and struggle to ever catch up. This is very common and nothing to be ashamed of. We have resources we can share with you and your student to get back on track when this happens. There is also a wide range of tremendous online resources that cost absolutely nothing, including Kahn Academy (www.khanacademy.org), which offers free online assistance for virtually any subject. The trick here, of course, is to catch the slippage as early as you can, so your student can get back on track. Just as falling behind can lead to a negative emotional spiral for kids, so can catching up and thriving academically lead to positive self-worth and a sense of control over one's destiny. As the saying goes, an ounce of effort is better than a ton of regret. You've got this.
5. Let us know how we're doing.
As our partner in education, we hope you'll let us know how we can work harder, smarter, or just do better in the process of educating your kids. We're absolutely committed to bringing our A-game every day, but we're human and we sometimes fall short. When that happens, know that we see this as an opportunity to improve and to do better. We hope you'll help us on that journey.