EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Ask your child about progress toward goals

2013-09-22T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Ask your child about progress toward goalsBy Peggy Buffington nwitimes.com
September 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Parent involvement plays an important role in students’ achievement across all school levels. Secondary students need their parents’ assistance!

Most researchers conclude parents’ direct involvement in their children’s schooling remains an important element in student achievement in secondary school.

Researchers demonstrated parent involvement operates as one of five essential supports for improved student achievement. In 19 schools where parent involvement was weak, not a single school improved in math.

As the 2013-2014 school year is underway, it is time to help our youths focus on learning and becoming productive citizens.

In so many instances, children come to school because they have to attend. School should be embraced as the place that provides opportunities that lead to a successful future.

Parent participation is critical. You must have regular conversations about the school day and engage with children about how they are doing. Keep expectations high. Responsibility! Perseverance! Accountability!

How do most conversations about school go? Adult: "How was school today?" Child: "OK." The conversation about school ends after that exchange.

Never settle for "OK." Probe with more questions. Do this every day.

What are some conversation pieces to challenge youth? To begin, we must ensure every child has a plan to be college and career ready. Most children, including teenagers, do not know what that means. Let's teach them how to make a plan and work at achieving it.

Plans must include short-term and long-term goals. It is at this point we can have regular conversations about school with youth.

School City of Hobart is using Career Cruising for students to make and keep an online plan that can be updated regularly. Students can take interest assessments, study and save career majors, visit colleges that match career interests, plan classes, make goals, record activities and awards, look for scholarships and build a resume. Parents/guardians can have access to their child’s plan with a login.

Conversations could sound something like this: Adult: “How is your plan for college and careers going?” Do not accept "OK." Keep probing.

Try short-term goal conversation about the plan: Are you meeting your short-term goal of earning a B in math class? If the child says no, continue the conversation about hard work and determination to meet the goal. Ask, what can you do to get back on track? How about using the Khan Academy (free online tutoring)? Or Ask Rose (free tutoring from college students)? Maybe there's a study table you could join?

Long-term goal conversation about the plan: Has your long-term goal changed? Are you still thinking you want to attend Purdue for engineering? Are your grades going to produce a high enough GPA and ACT/SAT score to be accepted by the college? Have you been researching financial aid and scholarship opportunities? Have you recorded your activities and awards in Career Cruising? Does your resume show your talent?

Conversations about progress on the college and career ready plan will help youths be more accountable and to see the importance of persistence at working toward goals in life.

These conversations will lead to higher achievement and some close family time.

Peggy Buffington is superintendent of the School City of Hobart. The opinions are the writer's.

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