• How can you help?

    Parents and caregivers can help their high school student stay motivated and do well in their schoolwork. The main way that parents can contribute is by becoming actively involved in their students’ school experiences and by exhibiting a positive attitude toward their school accomplishments. 


    What are study skills?

    School is about learning and learning is a progressive process. Learning how to study or learning how to learn is a process adolescents are still getting the hang of. 

    There is no single right or wrong way to study. Each child is an individual and each will find something different that works. Your child’s study plan may differ from that of a neighbor or of another sibling. The idea is to find out what works best for each child and then stick with it. Learning to study is a gradual process and there will be some hurdles along the way. But you can help your child. Here are a few good practices to implement within the home.
    1. Turn off the TV set, silence the cell phone, no video games and limit internet activity.
      1. Make it a house rule.  These can all be time-consuming distractions that draw your child away from the task at hand – homework!
    2. Designate a quiet well-lit spot for studying.
      1. Avoid places with distractions, such as people coming and going.
    3. Establish a routine that allows for balanced leisure activities.
    4. Play a role in your child’s success.
      1. Keep in touch with teachers through e-mail.  Ask for weekly progress sheets to be sure your child is keeping up with the class.  Discuss accomplishments and setbacks.
    5. Encourage your child to use their agenda book to record school assignments and plan ahead for long-term projects.  Request to see what they are working on and what is coming up that is due.
    6. Mandate that your child utilize available resources at school to help them succeed.
    7. Give praise and positive reinforcements for academic success.   


    Why are students unmotivated?

    Many students who misbehave or simply give up in school are concealing their apprehension that they may be perceived as stupid. To protect themselves from looking unintelligent and being embarrassed in front of other students, parents and even to themselves, they will simply refuse to do their work. Their need to be in control is so strong that they will choose misbehavior, failure, or other self-defeating behaviors. 


    Parents can help your child stay motivated and do well in their school work by becoming actively involved in their school experiences and by exhibiting a positive attitude toward their school accomplishments. 
    6 Beliefs of Motivation:
    1. All students can learn given the tools to do so.
    2. Repeated failure teaches students to be unmotivated. Success reinforces success.
    3. Everyone has the need to feel competent and influence events in their own lives. Motivation increases if these needs are met.
    4. Mastering challenging tasks improves self-concept.
    5. Classrooms need to be safe places to take risks in order for learning to take place.
    6. Motivation increases if adults treat students respectfully.


    How can you help?
    The more your child sees that doing schoolwork is valuable, desirable, or attractive – and can think of a personal goal or purpose for doing the work – the more your child is likely to want to try his or her best. He/she needs to see him or herself as the beneficiary of doing well in school, therefore causing their motivation to increase. 


    Focus your child’s success on their effort, improvement and personal progress not on particular grades or judgment of others. They need to see their steps as progress therefore becoming more willing to take on academic challenges, continue to try even when faced with obstacles, and think less about the possibility of failure and embarrassment. Focusing your praise on the positive outcomes that occur when he/she tries for example, displaying effort, persevering, and seeking help carry more weight than focusing on things that can not directly be controlled such as grades and academic standing in relation to others. A statement such as “Your worked really hard studying for that math test, now you know you can do it when you try,” carries more weight with a child than “I am glad you did what I told you to do and studied for that math test.”


    When students feel capable of doing their schoolwork, they are more likely to be motivated and more likely to see their schoolwork as having value. It is important periodically to ask your child how he or she feels with regard to their ability to do schoolwork. Then offer assistance, support and discuss differences between their perceived capability and actual ability. Having this discussion encourages your child to focus less on comparisons and more on personal progress. Allow your child to weigh in on what they feel is a reasonable expectation for success. Allowing them to have input, rather than dictating your expectation, allows them to maintain a sense of control over the situation and leaves them feeling empowered. 


    Your child’s motivation is strongly affected by your attitudes and values toward school and schoolwork. The more importance you attach to schoolwork, the more likely your child will put forth effort and display interest in schoolwork. Children usually judge the importance of schoolwork to their parents by their parents’ knowledge about what they are doing in school and their parents’ interest in school activities. In addition, students’ motivation is likely to be higher the more they believe that their parents notice their efforts and any distress they may have when doing school work. 


    Symptoms of Academic Underachievement

    Possible Causes

    Repeated failure to complete school or homework assignments on time.


    Academic performance is below the student’s intelligence.


    Heightened anxiety that interferes with student’s performance during tests.


    Depression and low self-esteem that contribute to academic underachievement.


    Poor organization or study skills that contribute to academic underachievement. 

    Lack of self-discipline. Depression or low self-esteem.


    Power struggle.


    Passive aggressiveness.


    Exposed to chaotic environment.


    Has become lazy. Has repeated school failures.


    Poor study skills.