Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tips From a High School Teacher

I do not yet have school age children, but I am a high school teacher. These are some of the things I would recommend to parents who have a student in high school.
1) For freshmen students: help your child feel familiar with the new building. Take advantage of tours and welcome events. Practice opening his or her locker using the combination.
2) Be sure your high schooler gets involved in at least one activity. All the research shows that kids who are involved in activities do better academically and have a more positive high school experience.
3) Get to know your child's guidance counselor. Send an introductory email or stop in and meet him or her. This person will be your child's advocate and you want to build a relationship with him or her.
4) Talk to your child about your academic expectations and help them set goals. Let your child know that his or her school performance is important to you.
5) Utilize online student information systems. Most districs have online gradebooks, blogs, etc. Check to see how your child is doing. If you don't have access to the online gradebook contact the school and find out how to get access. Don't be afraid to contact teachers when you have concerns, but don't abuse this either. The last thing any teacher wants is to be hounded daily by the same parent.
6) Work with the school, not against it. Teachers and administrators truly want what is best for your child. If we have concerns, they are valid and we want to work with you as part of a team to help your child. Nothing is more frustrating than parents who see the school as the enemy who just wants to pick on your child.
7) Ask your child about school. If he or she does not want to open up, ask questions like "What is something good that happened to you today?"
8) Attend parent-teacher conferences. Our attendance at conferences constantly dwindles and some of that can be attributed to all the information available online, but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation.
9) Help your child develop the habit of tackling homework as soon as he or she comes home from school. Don't nag your child about homework, but periodically check to see how he or she is doing. If your child routinely comes home with no homework, contact his or her teachers. All high schoolers have homework.
10) Monitor your child's friendships. I have seen so many bright young people pulled completely off track by poor choices in friends. Making certain friendships off limits will backfire, but talking about the importance of good friends and your expectations will help your child stay on the right track.

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