by Dr. Jeff Devens

This article was written by high school personal academic counselor Dr. Jeff Devens.

What three questions would I want to be addressed if I had 10 minutes with my child's teachers?

Question 1: Is my child/teen working to the best of their ability as defined by you, their teacher?
Your child's teachers see them in the context of their learning, be it math, science, social studies, physical education, and more. Do they believe your child is working to the best of their abilities? If the answer to the above question is "Yes", go on to the next question.

If the answer is "No", what are their concerns? Asking this question takes both your perception and your child/teen out of the equation and allows for their teacher to be the objective third party. This can be helpful in avoiding conflicts regarding perceived efforts. As a side note, most parents think their kids can work harder and most kids think their parents expect too much. Let their teacher drive the conversation by asking this question.

Question 2: Are they turning in their homework on time?
Note that you're not asking if the quality of their homework is "good." Instead, you're asking about the organization, time management, sticking to tasks, and being able to regulate their emotions and executive skills. The homework is a reflection of these skills—skills that must be cultivated in order to grow. Often when kids perform below expectations this is an indicator of a need for additional help in one or more of these areas

Question 3: What is their attitude like in class?
Are they attentive, distracted, sleepy, off-task? Are they able to regulate their emotions in class and work cooperatively? If they are unable to attend to tasks and are frequently distracted, this will impact their learning.

If the answers to the above three questions are in the affirmative (yes, yes, and yes), then they are earning a "B" or "C"  ( Meeting Expectations/Approaching Expectations). I would not encourage further discussion regarding how to earn better grades. According to your child's teacher, the person who is working with them on those specific skills, they are doing all the "things" we would hope kids would do as they develop skills, abilities, and proficiencies.

What we want is for our kids to step into their learning, make age-appropriate choices, and regulate their emotions in healthy ways. Kids learn at different rates, for different reasons, throughout the seasons. The above three questions, in the span of 10 minutes can be a helpful way to gauge where your child is at with respect to the learning outcomes.



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