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The Proper Way to Discuss Academic Issues with your Teen


When a student is facing academic concerns, a parent’s first instinct is to involve themselves and push the student back on track. While this is done with good intentions, it can often backfire and cause more harm than good. Home life, work life and now, a student’s academic success, can cause a parent to undergo a great amount of stress – which is often then taken out on the student. As a result, a student’s academic progress is negatively impacted. It is important for parents to discuss any academic concerns with a student in a positive way that tackles the issue without causing unnecessary stress to everyone involved.

Consider the Student’s Point of View – It is easy for a parent to take control of the situation, and create a plan on how to tackle academic problems. However, before doing this, parents should first listen to their student regarding the situation. Ask the student if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or what they are struggling with in a particular academic subject. Often times, parents can identify factors causing a negative performance in school through this conversation. Based on this information, parents can properly create a plan that addresses their student’s academic problems. 

Remember that the Perfect Student Does Not Exist – Keep in mind that making mistakes is a part of academic and personal growth for any student. Parents can do this by reflecting on their own experience in school, and the academic weaknesses that they faced. With this understanding, parents should be sure to be calm and patient when addressing academic concerns at home. While it is important to push a student to achieve more academically, it is also helpful for them to understand that everyone messes up once in a while.

Do Not Focus on Others – Students are already dealing with stress from their peers at school, and the last thing that parents want to do is add on to that stress. Many times, unnecessary comparisons and unhealthy competition can create this type of stress. When discussing any academic concerns at home, parents should make sure to avoid the constant comparisons between a student and his/her friends or siblings. Remember that every student learns at a different pace, and each student has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. While healthy competition does exist, comparisons between students, especially when it comes to school, can be harmful to a student’s academic success. 

Maintain a Balance – School is not everything, and every family has obligations outside of it. Balancing work, parenting and other obligations can create a stressful parent. Often times, this stress is taken out on a student. In order to avoid this from happening, parents need to be mindful of this and be sure not to let stress from everyday life impact the ways in which they communicate academic concerns with a student.

Consider Hiring a Tutor – Looping in a third party to help work through a student’s academic problems can relieve stress from both the parent and student. If a parent feels that their involvement in working on a student’s academic weaknesses may create a stressful situation at home, they should considering finding a tutor for the student. A tutor will provide a fresh perspective on how to work through academic weaknesses – without the additional stress.

Frank Milner is the President of Tutor Doctor, a Canadian based business that provides one-on-one in-home tutoring solutions in 16 countries worldwide. Frank's has a daughter who has suffered through "math meltdowns" and understands that privacy and one-to-one learning allow for unlimited growth potential in a student.
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