Set Children Up For Academic Success

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The end of August marks the return to school for Charlotte students. Here are five tips from local educators to get ahead of the game and set your child up for a successful school year.

Tip #1: Have a routine
Ayana Dixon, director of Mint Hill’s Kumon Learning Center, emphasizes the role consistency in the home plays in academic success. Many families are so busy these days that school work can fall to the wayside. A designated time and place in the home for children to complete their school work is an important step, but Dixon also emphasizes the importance of a consistent daily routine that includes set times for dinner and bed.

Tip #2: Be organized
Queen’s Grant High School English Teacher Jordan Frederick feels organization is key to academic success. “Losing notes, not completing homework assignments, having trouble locating study materials: all of these things tend to correlate with decreased performance and lower grades,” says Frederick. Queen’s Grant Guidance Counselor Josh Swartzlander also emphasizes the importance of organization. Students need to hold themselves accountable and stay informed of things like test dates and project due dates. Dixon encourages parents to work with their children on things like where to put their backpacks when they come home or where to put finished assignments so they make it to the teacher.

Tip #3: Get plugged in
Many schools now have online grade-books where parents and students can access assignments and grades. Queen’s Grant uses the online grade-book PowerSchool, and teachers are strongly encouraged to update their grades weekly. Simply making sure you have access to your child’s grades and checking in on their progress every few weeks can make a world of difference. Frequently, says Swartzlander, when a child starts to fall behind, they find that neither the parent nor the child is logged in to PowerSchool. However, limit your “check-ins” to once every week or two. While checking on your child’s progress more frequently might seem beneficial, it may not provide an accurate picture of your child’s progress. “One week is not a reflection of a student,” says Swartzlander. “Two weeks is not really a reflection of a student. Sometimes you don’t even have an assessment that often.” Moreover, contacting the teacher every time a grade is posted or an assignment is given takes the opportunity away from the child to advocate for him or herself, an important skill for long-term academic success.

Tip #4: Communicate
Both Frederick and Swartzlander emphasize the importance of communication amongst students, teachers and parents. “Setting up a line of communication with your teachers and not being afraid to ask questions” is so important, says Frederick. Swartzlander emphasizes the importance of keeping the lines of communication open amongst all parties: students, teachers, parents, and administration. If everyone is involved and communicating, says Swartzlander, we can catch things that go wrong before they become bigger problems.

Tip #5: Take advantage of enrichment opportunities
Many teachers are available for tutoring before or after school, but you don’t have to wait until you’re having trouble to reach out. “Taking advantage of regular tutoring even when you don’t think you need it is good,” says Frederick. Attending tutoring helps reinforce material and foster communication between the student and teacher.

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: