“How can my child improve their grade?”

As a teacher, my least favorite question.  A student’s grade should reflect their understanding.  The best way to improve math competence is to get in front of it BEFORE it becomes a problem.  There is no quick fix.  Tutors can definitely help but that obviously come at a price.

However, if your child is currently getting a poor grade these four questions can zero in on the problem.   Is it lack of effort either in class or at home?  Is it lack of skills?  Is lack of conceptual knowledge?  Have there been extenuating circumstances (health issues, family issues, excessive absences, etc.)?  These issues can certainly be intertwined as well.  The answer to all four questions very well could be yes.  Contact your child’s teacher.  If you can’t get good feedback from the teacher then you need to have a sit-down-honest conversation with them.  Have the conversation calmly and non-judgemental.  Let them know “this is where we are at and we need to be honest so we can move forward correctly!”  Always remember that teenagers will “manipulate the truth for a favorable outcome.”  If they say they “kind of” get it then they don’t understand the concept.  If they say they make “silly mistakes” then their skills are letting them down.  If they say their teacher “doesn’t explain it” then they are distracted in class.  Its the teenage way to deflect blame.  Always come back to what can you and your child do to improve.  Don’t rely on others.

Lastly, develop a plan to move forward.  A “C” is the worst possible grade a student can get for the final mark in a high school math class.  A “C” stands for “C”ontinue with “C”rappy skills.  Remember that math is cumulative.  Poor skills are like a snowball that picks up speed and volume to the point it can crush somebody (really dramatic I know).  What a student doesn’t have mastered will ultimately come back to rear its ugly head.  At least if a student gets a grade where they can’t move on, they will be placed back in an appropriate class.  The worse thing we can do as adults is force kids into thing they’re not ready for.  Use the summer or down periods to hone in on those skills they’ll need in the next year, semester, or quarter.  Treat math like reading.  One will only be successful by consistently doing it.

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