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Voices: The key to school success... organize, communicate and advocate

Opinion / Letters by: Guest writer Katherine Lessig, September 28, 2022

Being a parent is hard enough. Then, when you throw in the challenges of school, one is expected to be an expert in algebra, chemistry, and the history of the world. This experience is an uphill battle that most of us parents feel like we are failing on a daily basis.

The general topic of school is often considered the biggest strain on the relationship between parents and children, especially when school doesn’t come easy for the child. But it doesn’t have to be: There are some things that parents can do to help ease the tension your family faces during the school year, and I’d like to share them here.

While it may sound simple, the overall best advice for helping your child be successful is to stay organized:

Use a color-coded system: Use a white board with different color markers for different subject areas. Place the white board in a centralized location that can be seen easily by all family members to hold everyone accountable.

Use an alarm for tasks: Alarms work best with middle- and high school-aged children. Have the child set an alarm (either on their phone or a physical alarm clock) for the time they are available to complete a task. Once the alarm goes off, if the task can’t be done at that time, the “snooze” button should be hit.

Digital planner: There are many digital planners that can be downloaded onto phones, and sometimes these work better than physical, paper planners. Be advised that these typically cost money.

Staying organized is easier said than done, especially if a parent is not particularly organized. Everyone’s organizational strategies are different. What works for one person will not necessarily work for the next. Having open communication with your child about what is working for them versus what they don’t like to use is important for narrowing down a system that everyone can manage efficiently.

Remember, students struggle for a variety of reasons. It could be that something is going on outside of school that is making it hard for your child to focus in school. It could be that anxiety is affecting your child’s educational experience. It could also be a physical or cognitive challenge that makes coming to school and completing assignments difficult.

It’s important to implement methods and support systems to help you navigate through these waters, for the benefit of you as a parent, and for your child. You are your child’s best advocate – knowing the right language to use when speaking with school administrators and discovering what makes your child tick by keeping lines of communication open between parent and child will ensure your children have the best educational experience possible. It is not always easy, especially when working with adolescents, but knowing they have someone fighting for them in their corner makes all the difference.

Katie Lessig is the owner of KL Consulting. With 20 years of teaching experience and working with kids of all ability levels, Katie has gained a passion for helping students find success, no matter what that looks like to each individual. Her goal is to help parents guide their children through a positive schooling experience, while also making the connection between parent and child stronger. Contact Katie at klconsulting@gmail.com.