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As a parent, I’m sure you often hear stories of how boring their classes are in school. They are not lying school is boring -you attend a set number of classes for 180 days, with the same instructors many times covering the same content. However I've mastered the art of keeping teenagers engaged. So when your child comes home and feeds you with that famous line,"Mom my class is boring" know they are not talking about my class.
As parents it's natural for us to want to find a way to make your child's academics more engaging but the reality is that these classes are required for graduation. So what should a student do? Here are some tips your child can use to be successful, even when he or she has no interest in the subject.
Tip #1: Your job is to PASS the class, not to like the class. I tell my students all the time that I am not trying to turn them into historians, I’m trying to help them graduate so they can live the life they see for themselves. Your child needs to understand that everything in life will not be fun--that's the part of being an adult. Their job is to graduate and in order to graduate, they need to pass their classes. If they like their classes, that‘s a bonus!
Tip #2: Pay attention in class. This one is difficult, especially in the age of cell phones. However, it is imperative that your child pays attention in class in order to make the best chance for success. Think about this scenario: If you don’t put the money in your bank account, you can’t take any out of the ATM. If your child doesn’t pay attention in class, there’s no way she can pass her tests. Whatever your child needs to do to focus, tell her to do it.
Tip #3: Be friendly with the smart/responsible kids in the class. You are who you hang around. Copy their notes. Study with them.
Tip #4: Write it down. You may think you can remember everything your teacher says, but if you don’t write it down, you will forget most of it as soon as you leave the class. Good notes provide an excellent review guide for later.
Tip #5: Review the content every day. Notes mean nothing if you don’t review them. Review your notes the day you take them. Write down questions you need to ask the teacher to clarify. Use your book and Internet resources to add more information about concepts you don’t understand. Make flashcards.
Tip #6: Don’t cram for tests. A lot of my students will come to class proudly explaining how late they stayed up to study for a test. Cramming for a test is never a good move. First of all, your brain needs sleep to reenergize. If you deprive yourself of sleep, it will be harder to remember the information when you take your test. Secondly, if you have not been reviewing information all along, it will be difficult to recall information because you tried to ‘overload’ your brain the night before.
Tip #7: Ask questions while in class. Although many teachers are good, they are not good enough to read your mind. If anything is unclear, ASK the teacher to explain. If you are too embarrassed to ask the teacher during class, write the question down in your notes and ask after class. You can also ask one of those smart kids I told you to befriend. Your learning is YOUR responsibility. If you don’t know something, it is your job to find out.
Tip #8: Be respectful to everyone in the class. You may not like the class, but don’t be the person that is distracting to other students or being disrespectful to the teacher. When it’s time for me to do final grades at the end of the semester and a student is on the borderline, it is much easier for me to bump up the grade if the student is not the terror of the class. You don’t need to be a teacher’s pet, but do be respectful.
Tip #9: Try your hardest in class even if the content is difficult for you! A lot of my students say they are not good at school. The truth is, most of them don’t even try to be good. You don’t know what you can do until you try. There are many ways to learn, study and review, figure out what works for you, and do that. When you put in a good effort, good results are much more likely to happen than when you don’t try at all.
Tip #10: Think about the future. Think about the life you see for yourself in the future, and how school fits. Think about going to college, or graduating high school and starting the career of your dreams. It’s much easier to sit through that boring history class when you know it’s just one step on your path to greatness!
Bonus Tip: Use your technology. Although lots of schools still have restrictive cell phone policies, there are a LOT of ways you can use your phone to help you study and review. Quizlet is a good flashcard app. Evernote will help you take notes. Dictionary.com has an application as well. Use your calendar to help you keep track of your homework, tests, and quizzes. There are countless other apps—make your phone work for you! Disclaimer: If your school has restrictive cell phone policies and you want to use your phone in school, be sure to ask for permission first.
What tips do you have to keep students engaged in the content? Parents, what problems are your children having staying engaged in school? What solutions do you use to keep them invested?