"Children show respect for parents by obeying them. Parents show respect for children by expecting them to obey. "

School Performance Ultimately Belongs to the Student


My son is going in the 3rd grade and so far has had great performance at school both with academics and behavior. When school went virtual in the spring, it was a horrible few months for both of us. He cut corners, rushed through things, complained, cried. I could go on and on. At first, I tried to guide him, tried to help, I then left all of the responsibly and repercussions to fall him. It changed nothing. How can I make this doable when school starts?


You are certainly not alone in your concern. With schools having to close this past spring, administrators, teachers, parents and students were all thrown for a loop. To quickly make the necessary adjustments to online learning was a huge challenge. Not surprisingly, young children were especially impacted. Like so many, your son still needed the structure and guidance afforded by the in-school setting and struggled to make the transition.

Teachers with whom I have spoken were as frustrated as students at how things unfolded in the spring. Many shared that if they were to begin the new school year with online instruction, issues that were problematic in the spring would need to be a primary focus, with agendas that specifically address virtual learning vs. on-site learning taking top priority. The issues surrounding the 2020-21 school year are, understandably, daunting. As a former classroom teacher and school administrator, I encourage parents to support and allow teachers to take the reins when it comes to navigating on-line curriculum instruction and class expectations.

As far as your concerns about your son, my advice at this point is to wait and see. The teacher needs to be the one to inform the students of the expectations and guidelines for the year. Expectations and guidelines that classroom teachers typically address are: grading scales, assignments, quizzes, tests, homework, make-up work, absentee policies, rules/conduct, etc. The teacher also needs time to set a classroom tone that promotes learning and time to observe how well the students adjust.

The best thing parents can do for their children is to teach them that school is their job and it is a job to be taken seriously. To that end, as much as possible, parents should stay out of the process. In his book, Fail Safe Formula for Helping Your Child Succeed in School, John cites the ABC’s of Effective Homework Management. Your child is being taught at home virtually right now so any work is his “home work”.

The ABC's are outlined below (see John's book for more details):
A – All by Myself: Assignments are for the student. Once parents step in, it is no longer truly the student’s work.
B – Back Off: Parents should only assist IF the child asks and, even then, with parameters. Backing off means not asking questions such as, “Do you have any work today?” or “How can you do work with that music blaring?” or “Do you need me to help you with anything?”
C- Create Limits: Parents should set clear limits for 1) how much work assistance they will provide and 2) how late a child can stay up working on assignments.

The bottom line: The more responsible your child can be for his school performance, the better he will do in school. Having said that, good teachers appreciate parent interest and support. After allowing sufficient time for your son to settle in, it can certainly be helpful to share what you are observing at home and hear what the teacher is observing. An open, honest dialog with the teacher can help determine if further assistance is indicated.

Lastly, if you have not done so, I strongly encourage you to read John’s book. It is a wonderful resource that many parents have found helpful.

Sharon Lamberth
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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