Monitor Your Child's Grades

Keep an eye on your kids' grades to ensure they work to capacity, avoid shortcuts and fulfill parents' and teachers' expectations.

Many school-age children perform very well on their own in completing schoolwork that includes homework assignments and in-class recitations. But other kids need a little prodding to keep them moving along at an acceptable pace of learning.

If your children fall into the latter group, here are some of the things you can do, without nagging them or holding unrealistic expectations, to help them reach their potential and earn acceptable or even excellent school grades.

1. Meet with the teacher at the beginning of the school year. Find out what the typical school day will look like, and the type and amount of homework your child might be expected to bring home. Ask about the planned rewards and punishments for homework and learning goals, and offer to help support these however you can.

2. Check with your child several times a week to find out if he or she has been given homework, whether it was brought home, if the child is having trouble completing it, and if he or she is aware of the consequences for doing or not doing the homework. When the school year has fallen into a pattern, you will have a better idea of what to expect in terms of your child's classroom activities and any assignments he or she may need to work on in the evenings.

3. Set a homework schedule. Arrange a time and place at home for your children to do their homework. For example, this might fall between four and five o'clock at the dining room table, where you can oversee their work while preparing dinner or completing another activity. When children claim not to have homework for several days, followed by receiving a questionable or lower grade when report cards come out, talk to the teacher and to your child to establish a plan for making up lost work to strengthen the child's understanding of that area.

4. Expect prompt delivery of the report card each term. Some children pretend to forget the report, or perhaps intentionally lose or hide it so parents can't see how they're doing in school. Find out when each school quarter ends, and on which day the report cards are issued. Then ask your child for the report. If you find out that he or she has deliberately kept it from you, issue a consequence. Review the report card carefully, ask questions about uncertain areas, and check the instructor about things that you don't understand. You want to have a clear idea of why and how your child received the marks that he or she did.

5. Help your son or daughter create a plan to address weaknesses. It should be the child's prerogative to come up with an idea for handling problems. This will instill in them the need to take responsibility for their own actions, and to become critical thinkers to solve problems. But work with your child to help him or her set reasonable goals. Also be prepared to reward above-average progress as well as issue consequences, like less television viewing, for below-average grades.

Parents who get involved in their children's schoolwork in a supervisory rather than assistant-type capacity can reinforce the idea of academic standards and expectations. Don't ignore your child's need to complete homework and to meet passing levels of performance. Starting your kids strong in schoolwork helps to lay the groundwork for adult problem-solving and performance tasks.

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