Help You Kids Learn High School English

Are your teens struggling with high school English? The following guidelines can help them find the support they need to pass the course.

High school kids have lots of things on their minds. But all too often it isn't their English class. Although some teens enjoy language study, others prefer science and math. Only occasionally does a student appreciate both equally.

If your son or daughter is struggling with a high school literature, grammar, composition, or journalism class, there may be something you can do to help. As a parent, you don't want to get overly involved with your children's schoolwork, but you can cheer them on from the sidelines in marginal but meaningful ways. Here are a few tips.

1. Communicate with your child. Discuss and listen as she describes her version of the problem. Does she not like English? Are there competing priorities? Can she not understand the concepts or principles? Perhaps there are more global issues, such as social life, work schedule, or health issues. Help her identify the source of uncertainties about language arts.

2. Check assignments. Read guidelines and a course syllabus (scheduled) if one is available. See if you can understand what students are expected to do. Could you do it, if asked? Is your daughter able to perform as expected? Do materials make sense? Has she learned the necessary problem-solving skills that will be needed for mastering these concepts?

3. Provide learning support. In addition to general parenting provisions like good nutrition, adequate sleep, and physical exercise, make sure your child has a quiet place and a fixed time to study. Check her physical condition to be sure she is healthy and not struggling with a thyroid disorder or eating problem. (This may be a good time to see her doctor about an examination.) Remain calm when she does not complete assignments correctly until you know why.

4. Browse English resources. Software programs, Web sites, and books offer fun, challenging resources that can help teens learn English effectively. Ask your child's teacher to recommend titles or do an Internet search for possibilities.

5. Inquire about tutors. If your daughter has a friend who is great at English but poor with math, while your daughter is just the opposite, perhaps the two can exchange help in order to master the concepts where they are weakest. You also can pay a professional tutor to provide one-to-one teaching and learning interaction.

6. Have fun with English. Write a script or story together. Analyze a political speech. Listen to rap music. Explore the ways in which language permeates popular culture today. Helping your child appreciate the living qualities of language in the world in which they live can bring academic study to life and infuse it with new meaning. You may even want to "hire" your child to write reports or compose essays at $1 per page as a practice activity and part-time job (up to a limit, presumably).

English classes aren't what they used to be. Help your son or daughter master language skills that will serve them throughout life. Neither they nor you will regret the time or money spent.

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