With so many new emotions and experiences in play during the adolescent years, it is not surprising that many teens have hard time focusing on their school work. Because grades are an important jumping off point to future school and careers, teens must learn to balance their social lives as well as their academic life. Redirecting your son’s focus to their schoolwork can be tricky, but it is possible. The secret is figuring out what motivates him and approach the issue from that angle.
Following are five steps that can help you, as a parent, be the best support you can be for your teen.
- Attend Parent Teacher Conferences – These meetings, usually held once a semester, are your best roadmap for how your teen is doing in school and the ways that he may need help. It doesn’t do much good to tell your child that they need to do better in school if you don’t actually know what they are doing. Your son’s teacher is there to help him be as successful as possible, so use him/her as the valuable resource they are meant to be.
- Help Your Teen Come Prepared – The old adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is particularly true when it comes to teens. Help them be prepared for a day of learning by making sure that they are well-fed, well-rested and have gathered all of their school supplies and homework the night before, so they aren’t rushing anything at the last minute and getting off to a bad start.
- Support Homework Time – Helping your teen organize his day is one of the most valuable life skills he can learn. Work with him to designate a time that works with his social and extracurricular schedule and is set aside just for homework. Provide a quiet, distraction free environment where he can focus. Check in from time to time to make sure that he has not deviated from what he is supposed to do and make sure you are on top of the homework and projects he is working on, so you can help him remain on task.
- Organize – Organizational skills do not come naturally to many and learning how to sort and prioritize your daily workload is crucial to being a good student. Help your son by showing him how to complete daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists and encourage him to transfer the relevant information into the appropriate categories when he receives it so that he can check what he needs to do at a glance. Separate folders and setting text reminders on his phone can also help.
- Motivate – Motivation is probably one of the most important components of getting your son to focus on his schoolwork. Many teens don’t quite grasp how vital good grades are to their future plans, and the idea of that isn’t usually what drives them to do well. Make the reward more immediate by offering an incentive that speaks directly to your teen. Driving privileges, phone privileges and even financial compensation are all reasonable trade-offs for good grades. Similarly, you should also implement a consequences system in conjunction with the rewards side, so if he cannot be motivated to do well, at least he is incentivized to not fail.
If your child is struggling in school and your best efforts to help him don’t seem to be making a difference, it may be time to consider intervention like a tutor or evaluation for learning disabilities. You are your teen’s best support when it comes to success in school, but you are not alone if you find your teen needs more help than you can offer.
For questions or information about the ways that our program at Liahona Academy can help your son, please contact us at 1-800-675-8101.