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Steps to Improving Grades

How To Help Your Child improve and maintain good grades in school

In many ways, your child's first-quarter report card can be likened to the first lap in the yearlong race to achieve. Good grades and positive comments from teachers signify that he or she has the basic skills, study habits and drive to keep up a winning pace. Poor grades show a danger of falling even further behind as assignments become increasingly difficult. If you're worried about progress so far and know your child can do better, here are some steps for getting back on track.

  • Schedule a meeting with your child's teachers. This is one of the best ways to get a firsthand view of why your son or daughter is having trouble. Develop a list of questions in advance of the meeting, and keep in mind the most important factors in academic success. These include paying attention during class time, consistently completing homework satisfactorily and possessing the basic skills required for grade-level work.

    Insufficient reading skills will hinder success in virtually every subject, and if your child is struggling with basic mathematics skills in the early grades, he or she is bound to face difficulties with subjects such as algebra, geometry, calculus and trigonometry in middle and high school. Getting extra help from a qualified tutor such as Huntington right now can equip your child with the skills needed to catch up.

  • Take a close look at test results. Most students and parents tend to look at test results as a simple measure of success or failure. But you can often learn a great deal more by looking beyond grades and scores. Most tests, in fact, are diagnostic tools that reveal specific gaps in skills and knowledge. This is true of exams given by many schools and school districts in the fall and spring to gauge progress between the beginning of the year and the end. But it's also true of tests given throughout the year.

    Looking closer at "wrong" answers to a mathematics problem might reveal insufficient mastery of division, multiplication or mathematics formulas. Poor marks on an essay test might arise from struggles with basic grammar or organizational skills. While many students can improve test scores by simply "buckling down" and studying harder, most will also benefit by first defining the skills that are hindering their progress – and applying extra effort to strengthen these skills.

  • Take a close look at your child's schedule. Maintaining the right balance between study time and leisure time has a significant impact on academic performance. When you talk with your child's teacher, find out how much time your child should be spending on homework. Add that to the amount of time spent at school and factor in commuting time and time for your family to have dinner together, if possible. See how many hours are left over and determine how much time your child has for athletics and extracurricular activities.

    You should then be able to determine if these activities are cutting into the time your child needs to catch up and keep pace for the rest of the year. You and your child should then decide together which activities should be cut back at least until grades improve.

  • Have a candid conversation with your child. Children who feel good about the learning process and confident in their own potential to achieve tend to do well in school. Parents and adult family members can nurture these feelings by maintaining an upbeat attitude and ensuring that their children know that they believe in their abilities.

    For this reason, setting up conferences with teachers, keeping a vigilant eye on homework and study habits and staying involved with your child's school should be positioned as positive – not punitive – tactics. From the beginning of the year to that final sprint across the finish line, you and your child should be part of the same winning team.

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