We are about two months away from the end of the school year, and I am sure that your student has done all they can to keep up with the fast-paced rhythm of school work. You have stayed up late at night trying to figure out those difficult math problems with your student, and have done all you can to understand all the new, confusing problem-solving methods brought forth by Common Core curriculum. You have debated with your student about the effects of historical events on the present, and about the complex concepts and terms brought up in science class. Notwithstanding all of the worthy work your student and you have invested in their school work, your student might find themselves behind. As an educator, here are the five tips I recommend to motivate your student when they have fallen behind on school work.
1) LISTEN TO YOUR STUDENT
There is nothing more frustrating for a teenager than to feel as if no one is listening. Remember, your student has been struggling with school work for a while now, so there must be an underlying reason for their current academic standing. Ask your student questions like: “At what point in the writing process do you feel stuck?”, or “When you are in your math class, do you sit next to a window, or a door that might cause distractions?” Listening to your student’s thought process about their own struggles allows both of you to uncover difficulties that might find easy fixes. Most importantly, you have the opportunity to listen to your student, and instead of making assumptions, you can use information derived directly from your student to help them out.
2) TALK TO YOUR STUDENT’S TEACHER
Speaking to parents of students who are not doing too well in my course also gives me more insight about my students’ home life, and it makes it possible to consider specific circumstances when creating academic plans for students who struggle with school work. Your student might have a job, or they might babysit while you are working hard to sustain your family. As an educator, it is very useful to know all those details about a student, and you can supply that information!
3) USE TECHNOLOGY
While speaking with your student’s teacher, ask them if there are any free, or low-cost, websites that your student can use to study material. You will be surprised by the number of resources you can find on the internet.
4) SET SHORT-TERM GOALS
Remember, your student has been working hard all year, so saying things like “you need to pass this class to move up a grade,” or “you need this course credit to graduate,” does not work. Instead, work with your student to set short-term goals that make completing school work more manageable.
5) SET LONG-TERM GOALS
We know that teenagers have a difficult time comprehending the impact of their present actions in relation to the rest of their life. In order to facilitate this process, make sure to always relate the short-term goals you set with your student to long-term goals. These do not have to necessarily involve grade promotions or graduations, but they should be large enough to measure several short-term goals leading to a larger goal.
Lastly, not as a step, but as advice from a student who consistently struggled in school: be patient. Every human being is unique, and we all move at our own pace. You cannot beat the river into submission (or understanding), instead you must learn to flow with the current, and you are eventually bound to see success.
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