In many cases children, especially teenagers, need support, encouragement, and accountability when it comes to their school work. Orlando Family Counseling can help you and your family by providing the right tools to get your family moving in the right direction!

Keep in mind that in two-parent households, parents should work together as a team in all aspects of parenting. This is also true when it comes to the expectations each of you have when it comes to your child academically.  It is imperative that parents are on the same page and back each other on the rules and expectations of the school year.  When parents do not work as a team, it is easy for a child to manipulate the situation and get out of responsibilities. In single-parent households, this may be difficult due to you working alone but is doable none-the-less.

1.     Communicate Your Expectations: Prior to the school year beginning, hold a meeting with each of your children present. Communicate to them the expectations you have of them this year. Explain to them that school is important to their future and that they are required to do their best. A good way of engaging a teenager in this discussion is by asking them questions such as, “The school year is about to start, I am wondering what grades you are capable of earning in each of your classes this year if you do your best?” This is a great way to get a fair assessment of the mind set of your child prior to school beginning. Keep in mind that children are gifted differently and the academic strength of each child will not be the same. You should encourage your child  to do their best, not to necessarily bring home all A’s.

2.     Create a Balanced Schedule: Have an allotted time each evening that is a quiet homework study time for everyone in the home. A good rule of thumb is that first graders spend ten minutes doing homework, second graders twenty minutes, and so on and so forth. Make yourself available to your children during this time as they study. If they tell you that they do not have any homework, have them sit down at the table and have a conversation about how each of their courses are going. You can ask them questions like, “what is your hardest class?”, “do you have a favorite teacher?” or “do you have any tests coming up?” Help them learn that although they may not have actual assigned homework, that it is important to be proactive in your studies to avoid cramming or overloading on any particular night. I also recommend that you strive to eat dinner as a family either right before or after study time. This helps to reinforce a healthy family atmosphere.

3.     Celebrate Your Child’s Achievements: Parents are encouraged to think outside the box. The simple idea is that when your child brings home an awesome test score or strong report card, show your enthusiasm by celebrating with your child. Showcase their achievement on the refrigerator, go out for ice cream, or surprise him or her with a small gift. Positive reinforcement is a must!

4.     Consequent Accordingly: The other side of the token is to hold accountable any laziness or irresponsibility on the part of your child. If it becomes evident that your child is not putting forth the effort and their grades attest to this, then it is time for a conversation. It is also a good idea to limit or take away altogether those items that compete for his or her attention (yes of course, the coveted cell phone and/or gaming system). These can be returned once grades have improved.  Orlando Family Counseling can guide you through the appropriate steps!

5.     Converse That You Care: When they come home engage them in conversation. “How did your day go?”, “Did you learn anything knew?”, and “Do you have any homework or test coming up?” I realize that having a conversation about school may not be the easiest thing to do with your children. Often times, they may blow you off or they may act like you are driving them crazy with all these questions! This is not an attempt to exasperate or annoy your child; you are simply staying engaged.

By implementing these steps with your family, you are raising the expectation bar in the home. You are also creating leverage with your child and removing any excuse they may have for poor school performance. The only thing they can truly do is take responsibility for their grades. This creates healthy dynamics in any family. You are teaching them to take control of their life!

Also by doing these things you are telling your children that school is important and it needs to be taken seriously. By showing them how much you care, you are giving your child an additional reason to care. Regardless if your child struggles academically or not, the most important thing is that they do their best by applying themselves. The fruits of hard work will pay off and the lessons that are learned will last a life time. You and your family may also benefit from Orlando family counseling to get you back on the right track!