Parental assistance required

Published 6:07 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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By Nathan Rice

Last year, a mother shared concerns about her child’s performance at school. She lamented some things about her daughter’s overall effort in her classes as well as her grades, and I could tell she was frustrated. I suggested a few things that I thought would help the situation. She rejected most of my ideas but said that she would do one of them. Weeks later, however, nothing had been done. I was unable to help any further because the mother did not provide me with the additional information and resources I needed to help her daughter in school.

In another instance, I was working with a young man who was struggling with his grades. There were several things I wanted to try, but I needed the cooperation of his father. I called, texted and otherwise reached out to him, but I was unable to get him to commit to a time to meet with me for a discussion.

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Later, both of these students would share their sorrows with me as they learned they were required to go to summer school due to their grades. A lot of it was their fault. They did not put in the effort needed to receive a passing grade, so they had to retake classes. It’s a lesson that I hope they have learned.

I was saddened, however, that the parents of these students did not do what was needed to help their children during the school year. I may have been able to assist, and there were things provided by the school that could have helped, but receiving this help required parental assistance.

This year, I encourage parents to help their children in school. This is even more important now with virtual learning, as students of all ages are required to navigate new territory and complete more self-directed work.

The first step to help students in school is to be aware of what is required of them in their current semester. Take the time to study a student’s schedule, learn what is needed, and keep an eye on upcoming projects. Students of all ages need direction in knowing what is needed and encouragement to stay on top of assignments.

Next, it is crucial to stay involved in your child’s progress. Log in to the school’s parent portal frequently, communicate with teachers, and speak with your child about current classes and projects.

Once you know their schedule and are keeping track of their work, be sure you do what it takes to help your child throughout the year. This will require verifying their work is being completed, asking them questions about where they are in their assignments, and monitoring grades.

It will most likely also require helping them in their work. Students often get stuck in a particular area of a class and need some assistance getting over a hurdle. They won’t always ask for help, either out of embarrassment for not understanding the subject matter or because they do not want to put in the additional effort needed to understand. This is why it is so important to be involved throughout your child’s school year.

Lastly, do not be afraid to ask for help from others. Schools have a lot of programs for helping students, private tutors are available, and many caring adults would be glad to help your student in any way they may be able to assist.

Keep an eye on your students this year, be involved, help them where, and get help from others when it is needed. A successful school year will require parental assistance.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at