By Cathie Ericson
Is your teen’s first semester report card less than stellar?
Let me guess your first reaction: You’re ready to jump in with a study plan—and maybe a punishment.
Don’t, cautions Joan Rooney, who directs the tutors for The Princeton Review’s online Homework Help and is a mom herself. “Teens are at a place where they should start doing some of their own assessing and analyzing.”
Instead, she suggests leading with a question, such as, “What do you think went well and what could be improved?” to get teens thinking about factors that contributed to their low grades in high school or middle school.
Once they’ve identified some of the reasons they are struggling in school, you can help them brainstorm solutions, ideally using their own support system and familiar tools. So, for example, if they are chronically forgetting to start assignments with ample time, they might decide to put reminders in their phones or set goals with friends and hold one another accountable.
“You want to help them learn to reflect and problem solve independently, which is a life skill,” points out Rooney. Not to mention, of course, that teens are more likely to own the solution if they helped devise it themselves.
“Imposing a consequence might get compliance, but you won’t be helping them for the long run,” she says.
And, she adds, don’t expect miracles. “They’re not likely to go from zero to 100, so celebrate any success you can find.”
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. Read more about Cathie at cathieericsonwriter.com.