The holiday season is fast approaching, and the grading period in most local school districts is almost over.

But this time of year can be stressful. With the first half of the year almost over, report cards now can set the tone for the rest of the year. Is a student coasting along fine? Are they playing catch-up for the rest of the year? Are they eligible for their sport or club? These questions can lead to a lot of stress for both students and parents.

It can also be stressful for teachers. I spent eight years bracing myself for the inevitable "What can I do to fix my grade?" and "Do you have any extra points you can give me?" questions. And, it happens. Some kids lose track of time and the end of the year catches up to them, while some others are, frankly, procrastinators.

And of course, there are some who just struggle.

But, this is just the first quarter, and there is plenty of school year left. If your child's grade leaves something (or a lot) to be desired in this first report card, there's no reason to panic. Here's what you need to do.

1. Reach Out To The Teacher

Often, most issues can be cleared up with some communication. Your child may not be able to articulate what their problems are in the classroom, but their teacher should. They can give you a better breakdown of grades, behaviors, and other factors that may be contributing to those scores. With that information in hand, you can help the teacher (and your student) come up with a plan to fix those problems before they get worse.

2. Look For Resources To Help

Sometimes, they need more. Maybe it's a tutor. Maybe it's a YouTube video series like the one above. But sometimes kids just need extra help. And that's okay. The benefit of the Internet is (when used responsibly) it is a great tool for gathering extra information. And in the case of videos, documentaries, etc., it's not a terrible idea to watch them together. It's a good bonding time and you get the benefit of getting the information, too, which could help them when they need a hand studying for a test.

3. Advocate, But Don't Excuse

If you believe your child isn't getting the assistance they need, speak up! There are several ways schools can help your student, but only if they (or you) ask for it. Don't be afraid to talk to a teacher or principal and ask how your student can get that assistance. However, it's important to be an advocate while also holding your child accountable for their work. Schools do a lot to make sure kids get what they need, but far too often people blame teachers and schools when not enough is done for their child... when the child never asked for the help. Being proactive, rather than defensive and reactive, is all it takes.

4. Set Up (Or Modify) Your Student's Routine

Sleepy young woman trying kill alarm clock

If your child is struggling to get work done or study the right material, it may be a matter of adjusting the after-school routine in order to maximize the right amount of time. The older a student gets, typically the later they'll push back doing their homework. As a result, they may be operating while exhausted or forgetting some assignments in the last-minute rush. Setting up a  schedule that allows them to get work done while also not confining them to a desk, the kitchen table, or wherever they do their work for the entire evening will help.

5. Make Time To Help Them

It doesn't have to be an every night thing, and I know that life can be extremely busy. You may not know the material. You may be an expert. But, once or twice a week, check in. Make the time to sit with them and review what they're learning. If you're up to speed on what's going on in the classroom, you'll start to see signs of what they are and are not comfortable with in their studies. Then, you can work with them.

6. Encourage Good Sleep Habits

To be honest, I am definitely a hypocrite on this one. I have awful sleep habits. But kids need restful sleep more than adults do, as it's imperative in order to help them grow and develop. One of the healthiest habits students can pick up is going to bed at a reasonable hour, and definitely not staring at a screen for hours in the dark before falling asleep. It's a hard habit to break, but it helps tremendously.

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