Schools’ Parent Portal can be a useful guide

Schools’ Parent Portal can be a useful guide

Columnist John Rosemond has a consistent theme of having school-age children take responsibility for their own behavior and actions. I wholeheartedly agree. As parents, we think we want to be supporters without being enablers.

Where do students acquire their motivation, self-discipline, or sense of duty or responsibility to learn?

Some subjects are inherently interesting while others are taught by dynamic, master teachers who inspire their students. But this doesn’t cover all cases.

Some students may have suitable role models in (or out of) the home. Many more students today, perhaps more than half, can benefit from and indeed require regular guidance or guidelines to understand the importance of what they are expected to learn and how to succeed in school. They have marginal study habits and are often labeled “at risk.” They may also have poor time management skills. They are unsure of the relevance of subjects as well as the value of completing homework assignments and diligent study for exams.

If a student is not performing up to his or her ability, a parent may be the first best agent to intervene and reinforce what the teacher is expecting from students and why.

The parent may also be aware of distractions in his or her child’s life needing mitigation. In order to help, the parent should be aware of the teacher’s expectations of students.

One way to do this is by visiting the parent portal. I am not advocating helicopter parenting, so rather than monitoring every homework assignment in every subject and every test score result, look for a pattern. And if a student sees that a teacher indicates the importance of studying and completing assignments in school, and this same message is reinforced by the parent at home, the student is more likely to be convinced, to do so. He or she will seek tutoring from the proper source(s) if and when necessary at his or her own initiative.

Private schools have the reputation of getting more involved in the student’s home life. Here, the school takes the initiative. Either a teacher or administrator will call home, speak with one of the parents to enlighten the parent of teacher expectations, and then ask what steps can be taken in a cooperative way to improve the student’s performance before it was too late.

Of course, setting the right example at home by a parent can also have reinforcing effects, regularly reading if only for 20-30 minutes at night.

Kids are secretly looking for role models to emulate. Keep in mind that the portal also conveys a sense of how much time and effort are required each week by the student outside of class time to successfully complete all of his/her assignments. So, time management skills can be taught by the parent to his/her child, as an adjunct skill. And children track how their parents manage their time, and then emulate here as well. Increased success usually requires increased commitment of time.

A parent can choose a policy of non-intervention, until and unless the student actively seeks help and demonstrates accountability. The child may even have to fail somewhere along the line first to seek help. Failure has teaching benefits, but so does success and continuity.

Armen Casparian