With NCEA results fresh in our minds, social pressures, high school dramas, underpaid teachers and a standardised testing system – there’s no wonder so many kids aren’t engaged at school.
When a child doesn’t feel passionate about school, grades aren’t the only thing that’ll take the hit. Their motivation will drop, their attendance might go down, they’ll lose confidence and they’ll likely be tired and grumpy when they get home.
Nevertheless, there are some steps we can take as parents (and educators) to help remind your teen of their “why” at school, and get back on track towards becoming the student and young adult they’re meant to be.
1. Start with a bang
Often, students and parents treat the start of the year as the “relaxed” period, where they can get away with missing homework or ditching the study books for a few weeks.
However, if there’s no sense of momentum to drive your child towards their goals, they might miss key concepts and knowledge taught early in the curriculum – causing further problems down the line.
By starting the year on a high, your teen will establish the momentum and motivation to keep up the pace – and they’ll also gain the foundational knowledge to excel in more advanced topics later on.
That’s why we encourage starting tuition early in the Term. Our tutors take the time to set micro-goals and long-term with their students early on, so that they kick-start the right momentum to carry them throughout the year.
If your child has been experiencing engagement problems at school, sit down with them and map out some small goals for them to achieve over the next month or so. Once they start meeting them – however small – this will give them the boost they need for a strong drive throughout the year.
2. Have ongoing support available
A lot of the time, when students aren’t enjoying themselves in class, it’s because they don’t understand key material.
With busy classrooms and competitive classmates, this can be extremely isolating. They might come to resent the subject they’re struggling in, or worse: come to the conclusion that they’re simply “dumber” than their peers.
Oftentimes, it’s simply a case of sitting down with someone (a tutor, friend or sibling) who has the answers, and working through the problem together.
It might be a “duh” sort of Eureka moment, or it might take a little more patience and time.
Either way, having someone to talk through the student’s problems as they unfold is the perfect way to ensure no minor slips at school turn into full-blown avalanches.
3. Become more engaged
with their education
No one knows your teen better than you. As such, you have the power to help them find their “why” at school, using your unique insight to help them uncover their motivation.
Check out this video for advice from our tutors on how to engage with your child’s learning more:
When your teen gets home from school – instead of asking “how was your day?” try and ask specifically about what they’re learning:
- What are you learning at the moment?
- How do you feel about it?
- What are your thoughts on this?
- How does your teacher teach the class?
If your teen is apathetic towards school, work out why:
- Do you think the subject itself is flawed, or just the way it’s being taught?
- What if you looked at it this way?
- What’s making you feel anxious about that class?
- Do you understand everything the teacher is saying, or do you feel like you’re missing something?
- If you could change something about the class, what would it be?
Now, offer them solutions or affirmations:
- Can I help you work it out? I might be able to offer some knowledge.
- Do you think you might benefit from a tutor or some one-on-one attention?
- Would you like me to look into resources that might help you study better?
- That sounds really stressful. Let’s have a break and we can come back to it.
- I know you hate that class, but it will help you to reach your goals of x,yz. Keep going. You can do it.
- You’re a great writer, this is just a small bump in the road. Don’t let it knock your confidence.
- Progress is better than perfect. You’re doing great.
You know your teen’s passions better than I do. Try to think of ways you can connect those passions to what they’re learning today, and use that knowledge to reframe school as something of a personal opportunity. With the right advice, a good chance to rant, and a trusted person to open up to – your teen will be able to identify what’s really frustrating them at school, and the two of you can work together to overcome it.
By becoming more engaged, empathetic and attuned with your teen’s education at school, your teen will feel less alone in their struggles and feel supported in getting over them.