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Success tips for high school

Caring adults play a key role in student success and success takes a combination of many skills including organization, time management, prioritization, concentration, and motivation. Praise on progress and accomplishments- both daily and larger items. 

Facilitate conversation. To find out your teens skills and which areas need further development needs a conversation. Ask them about favorite subjects or classes they get nervous or dislike attending. Talk with them about their gradebooks or progress reports. Do they feel good about their achievements? 

Listen for clues. Is your teen overwhelmed by homework? They may have trouble organizing time. Does your teen have difficulty completing work? They may get distracted easily or struggle with motivation to initiate work.

Support the development of a plan. 
Managing time. Help your student track assignments with use of a planner, monthly calendar, or digital app or digital calendar. Even when a teacher provides a one to two week deadline, many students don't start until the night before it's due. Understanding that time management is a learned skill - students benefit from adult support and modeling to achieve success.
  1. Track assignments on a weekly system. Work backward from due dates of larger assignments or projects and break into smaller nightly tasks. Actively utilize the Skyward gradebooks to understand your students' progress. Teachers are expected to keep their gradebooks updated within two weeks. Remaining aware of each class can help you and your student communicate on tasks, assignments, questions, tests/exams and key information.
  2. Designate a time to touch bases with your child in the evening. Agree to time and location so you can help facilitate a supportive home learning environment. Some families decide home is too loud or disruptive and choose to go to a library or community study center. Others find meeting at a dining room or kitchen table and, if you have multiple children, meeting 1:1 to help review the calendar, review work, and check progress.
  3. Help your teen track and record the time they are spending on homework tasks. In learning time management, students need to understand average times for tasks. MTHS typically has a couple different planner options for sale through PTSA. Actively foster an environment with your student where you are using this planner as a platform to discuss tasks. Most MTHS teachers prompt students to write down homework, test info. or key dates. If you and your student prefer technology, there are TONS of apps to help plan and organze high school student life. Sample planner, note taking, & organization apps
  4. If evening doesn't afford enough time, help your teen find other times. This could be using their calendar/planner/app to designate certain days they can attend Study Hawks, the MTHS Hawk study club that meets in the library every afternoon from 2-3p. Another option is homework help available at the Terrace or Lynnwood Libraries. Or, map out time for early mornings or weekends. Helping to break items into smaller tasks and blocking out time on a schedule provides students an understanding that they have the time available and can brainstorm, draft, and organize work. This also helps teach balance of time management by allowing for breaks, downtime, jobs, or time with friends - while still teaching a focused approach to academic studies. 
Organizing time. Teenagers need to be organized to capitalize on time available to do work. Whether it is keeping track of research materials, bringing home a book or supporting materials for assignment, for many students academic challenges are related more to a lack of thoughtful organization. Check in with your teen's MTHS Counselor or teachers to understand if there is a school wide or classroom organization expectation. Does the teacher have a class website whereby they list assignments or projects?
  1. Use the planner/calendar/digital app/phone with tasks or reminders to make a checklist of items that need to go to and from school each day. Visual reminders are helpful tools or memory aids. Therefore place a reminder or copy of checklist or items on bathroom mirror, by door the teen leaves out, etc. to help increase recall and organization to take key items with them.
  2. Engage your student in the development of organizational tools. Remember what works for one doesn't work for everyone. 
  3. Consistently reinforce use of organization.
Prioritize. Students can quickly fall behind by failed execution of making priorities. This is another life long skill that can help foster a successful academic experience.
  1. Help your student develop a list of all things they need to do, include family/church/job/friends events and activities. 
  2. Label them 1-3 with 1 being most important.
  3. Ask clarifying questions so you understand their current framework and know where their focus is.
  4. Help facilitate any adjustment of changing of priority labels to support academic success then re-write to have a clean list.
  5. Set up times on the planner/calendar to check-in and monitor how the list is evolving and assure that new tasks are being added and labeled for priority. 

Motivation. Most teens verbalize that they want to do well in school, yet many fail to complete the level of work required to succeed academically. Often there is a disconnect in motivation. A well-done assignment or project requires motivation. While teens develop interests in varied areas in school - schooling requires covering items that may be of less interest. Teaching motivation and perseverance typically involves praise, support, and on-going involvement by caring adults. Often what holds a student back is a fear of failing and memories of when they've been unsuccessful before. Celebrate small successes and help provide environments to foster success.  

  1. Encourage interests to academics. If he is passionate about music, give him books about musicians and show how music and foreign languages are connected. If there is a free-write, encourage he write about something in music.
  2. Praise and congratulate your teen. Don't underestimate praise and encouragement. Celebrate successes. Teens do more right each day then they receive feedback for. Recognize their daily accomplishments.
  3. Encourage your teen to share her experience. Ask open ended questions about what she is learning in school. Learn from your teen's lens. Ask about specific subjects and what projects or learning has occurred.
  4. Provide your teenager control and choices. With guidance, let them determine study hours, organizing system or school project topics. 
Concentration. Whether studying for AP Physics, freshman World History, or a music percussion test; it is important they they have a place to work on schoolwork with limited interruptions and distractions. 
  1. Turn off access to email, texting, social networking, and games when using technology to assist school work. Many cellular phone companies provide parent tools to set limits by hours or through apps. Control their access to help teach control and restore priveledges when balance is practiced and shown. 
  2. Set some 'house rules' which include declaring the phone or TV off-limits during studying time. Have them power down their phone and check it in so they can work uninterrupted. 
  3. Find a space that fits the assignment. If your student is working on a science project, they need a lot of space. if studying for a French test, they need a well-lit desk or table area.
  4. Help provide a structured environment for homework by limiting distractions from teens or other noises in the home. 


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