Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Practice asking teachers questions.

What you can do

Encourage your child to speak with teachers about how to prepare for tests. Take the same approach with writing assignments. Point out that teachers know what they want and that talking one-on-one can provide a framework for what to study or what to write.

Help your child see that asking questions is not a sign of weakness. Make clear that there’s nothing wrong with getting information that will allow her to work efficiently and meet teachers’ goals.

Use role-playing to help your child practice talking to a teacher. Also, in a private conversation between you and the teacher, ask him to try to pair your child with a nurturing student who can help coax her along during class activities.

What you can say

“Sofia, I know you felt that your grade on your last test was due in part to the fact that you studied material unrelated to the test. Before you start preparing for your next test, why not ask the teacher what he recommends you study? After all, he’s the one who designed the test.”

“Tell him you want to do well on the test and want to make sure you’re studying the right material. Or you could tell him what you’re planning on studying and ask for his feedback and any suggestions he might have. This will show him your dedication as a student.”

“It should also help you focus your efforts. Let me know if you’d like to practice what you’re going to say to him.”

Why this will help

Sometimes students misunderstand the nature and volume of a task and give up because it seems insurmountable. You can help your child get through big assignments by making clear that teachers are allies, not enemies.

This is important for middle and high school, but even more so in college. College students are more likely to persevere if they’re comfortable seeking out help from teaching assistants, writing workshops and tutors.

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