Years ago I worked in a school-based program and at the start of each new school year I organized a parent workshop related to helping your child have a successful school year. Topics included things like the importance of school and home partnership, parent-teacher conferences, homework and study tips, understanding your child’s report card, and the roles of pupil personnel workers and guidance counselors. I also offered similar parent engagement workshops in the community.
There were cyclical patterns that emerged each school year. I could count on high stress levels of parents and students in the transitioning grades – 5th, 8th, and 12th. I learned to anticipate a flood of requests for tutors and mentors once the third semester report card was distributed. And about this time of year as students take midterm exams and begin to select courses for next school year I would be asked the question “is it better to get a B in a harder/advanced class than an A in an easier/regular class?” My answer has always remained the same – it depends on the student. School can be very demanding. Academic, social, and emotional pressures affect each person in unique ways and each person’s academic ability and stress threshold is different. Each student should be evaluated individually based on their interests, strengths, and personal motivations.
The tassel is indeed worth the hassle so here are a few questions to ask yourself and your youth as you evaluate this school year, plan for next school year, and prepare for life after high school. These questions are especially important for youth in foster care that may have experienced academic disruptions, numerous disappointments, and low expectations from people in authority.
- What will he learn in this class that will prepare him for the next grade?
- Does this course build a foundation for his career interest?
- Will this course help keep him motivated and interested in school?
- At this time is it more important to increase his GPA or bolster his transcript? (No, that isn’t a misprint.)
- What is he learning about himself as he increases his knowledge base or challenges himself to excel?
- How much of an academic challenge can he handle right now? Is this the right time to take this course?
- How can I tell when he is over-burdened or the stress is becoming unbearable?
- What resources are available to ensure that he does well and does he know how to access those resources?
The Teen Toolbox provides academic empowerment workshops for youth and parents (biological and foster) and trainings grounded in the positive youth development model for youth workers and educators who desire to be more effective in their work with youth in foster care. Contact me to schedule a life skills workshop, training, or consultation. We can get your youth Packaged For Success™.
You may also want to read: Common Core Standards and Youth In Foster Care
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox utilizes youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs. We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.
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