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After several weeks of summer vacation, your child should be heading back to school rested and determined to make the most of his or her potential. As a parent or guardian, you can facilitate this mindset by setting goals in each of the areas that are so important to academic achievement. Here are some suggestions:
GOAL ONE: Raise the bar Earning top grades should be one of the most important goals. If your child earned “B’s” and “C’s” last year, set a goal to earn all “A’s” and “B’s” this year. In most schools, this GPA level will qualify for the honor roll and signify that your child is performing at grade level, and is well-prepared for increasingly difficult work. If your child is already an “A/B” student, set a goal to earn all “A’s”. If your child struggled last year and ended up with “C’s” and “D’s”, talk with teachers right now to get extra help.
GOAL TWO: Create and stick to a firm study schedule Study time should be part of your child’s daily schedule. This should be a certain period of time when your son or daughter completes homework, prepares for tests and engages in “free-choice” learning to explore special learning interests and aptitudes. Keeping on schedule tends to be easiest if this period is the same time each day of the week, with more flexibility on the weekends. Some students may need to jump into study time and “get it over with” as soon as they get home from school. Others may need a break for physical activity or socializing before they’re in the right mindset to buckle down and make the best use of their time.
GOAL THREE: Take action when trouble lies ahead If your child is struggling to understand quadratic equations or the symbolism in a novel assigned for an English Literature class, the problem may go beyond simply not paying attention or not applying enough effort. You should encourage your child to alert you whenever he or she is struggling and then talk with teachers to see what kind of extra help is available. This may include some remedial work to build or strengthen basic skills, or the use of different teaching strategies to convey concepts in a way that better suits your child’s learning style. Taking action early is absolutely critical – you don’t want to find out about a major learning issue the day before a big test, or at the end of a quarter when it may be too late to address the problem.
GOAL FOUR: Get an extracurricular boost
Extracurricular activities can expand your child’s learning horizons and strengthen the impression he or she will make on college admissions applications. Reading groups, language clubs, political campaigns, academic competitions and volunteer projects can extend your child’s natural aptitudes and interests and pack a lot more learning into the day. These activities can also lead to stronger friendships and connections to your school and community, which can give your son or daughter a stronger sense of well-being and purpose.
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington is co-founder of Huntington Learning Center, which has helped children achieve success in school for over 28 years. For more information about how Huntington can help your child, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.
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