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In this two-part series, we will explore the 4 players involved in a student’s education, how they each contribute to student success, as well as what parents should expect from each.

As we approach the three-year mark since the start of the pandemic, it’s become increasingly obvious that it has left its mark on our children’s education. Perhaps your child adapted quickly to virtual school and the format change was not a problem. Unfortunately for most, this was not the case.

See if this snapshot sounds familiar from the height of the pandemic:

You and your partner are now working from home remotely. You always valued healthy boundaries around screen time for your two children. So the tablet shared between them was sufficient until they were required to be online for virtual school all day long. Suddenly you’re scrambling to arrange access to an additional device, and everyone in the family found themselves locked away in front of a screen for hours on end.

On a good day, things went smoothly. You could manage breaks from your own work when your children had “recess”, and the school lessons proved to be engaging enough. On a bad day, the internet was weak and your important budget meeting landed on a day when your children decided to boycott school altogether.

Even if this was not your reality…

We have found that a wide range of students throughout all grade levels endured several weeks without much of a school structure whatsoever. Whether it was hastily printed out “busywork”, or educational websites that covered relevant topics in a vague way – these became the “quick fix” solutions for too long. Without the lack of structure they were accustomed to, student progress suffered.

With so many inconsistencies in education throughout the pandemic, students lack many of the fundamental building blocks they should have received during the pandemic years of their education. The basics that would normally develop in math and sciences, or in French and English skills, specifically in reading comprehension and writing skills, are seriously lacking. And these are foundational for any subject or school program.

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While we used to see students shuffle through the system and into the workforce or higher education and career paths without much thought, this is no longer the case. On a broad scale, primary school students and middle school students are not meeting the same standards of language arts or mathematics that equips them for more complex subjects in high school. And secondary school students transitioning to higher learning as university students are enrolled in introduction level courses with major gaps in their education.

So whether it’s a university student starting as a Freshmen in college, or little ones stepping into their first structured days of kindergarten, and every middle school student in between, parents everywhere are noting how ill-equipped their children are for the task at hand. 

As we all wait around for politicians to offer their solutions, we parents ask ourselves, what can be done for my child now?! We are now introducing a two-part series where we have broken down the four key players in a child’s education and what each can do to see measurable improvements in student success. In this first post, we’ll explore the roles of the student and the parent, and practical suggestions for each. In the second post we’ll explore the roles of the teacher and tutor with further recommendations for what parents should expect from them respectively.

So whether your child is an elementary, middle school student, or secondary school student, we believe these simple suggestions will go a long way.

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Perhaps most importantly is the role of the student. No one is more responsible for an individual student’s education than they themselves are. So let’s consider little things that can aid students in their own learning experiences. The suggestions listed have been observed of students who have adopted these practices in the traditional classroom, but also in those who engage in private tutoring or private lessons.

Individual students will get more out of their school education or private tutoring by being encouraged to:

– Stay engaged by continuing to pay attention in class and in their private tutoring sessions
– Ask lots of questions. All. The. Time.
– Ask for help when they don’t understand
– Provide feedback to parent, teacher, private tutor about what is, or isn’t, helpful
– Develop note-taking skills
– Review review review – not just before a test
– Complete assigned homework
– Sleep well, eat healthy, incorporate fresh air and physical activity into each day
– Get the most out of their tutoring experience by coming prepared with questions and material 

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As a parent, you are likely the most invested of all in your child’s academic success. But it can also feel like you have the least control over the process. Here are some things parents can be doing to help their child:

– Communicate, communicate, communicate
The first layer of communication is with your own child. Talk about their school day. Gauge how school makes them feel. If there are negative feelings of anxiety, sadness, overwhelm, etc. on a regular basis, find out why. It may be a social conflict, but it may be an academic issue, too.

– Set up regular communication with your child’s teacher
Many school and school boards have provided access to free communication software making it easy for teachers and parents to connect. Find out how your child’s teacher would like to communicate in order to be in the loop of your child’s curriculum, upcoming tests, assignments, overall progress, etc. Make yourself aware of the schedule of assignments/tests/exams, and percentage of total mark for each. Find out the topics that are being covered on these as some may be more challenging than others for your child.

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– Find out what kind of resources parents have access to through your child’s school
Schools often subscribe and pay for access to educational resources for use in the classroom to help develop math skills and language skills (French and/or English skills). But these resources can often be accessed from home as well. Find out what kind of free resources might be available and recommended through your child’s school.

– Hire a qualified tutor!
With the education system being what it is, in addition to the complex season we’ve come out of, it’s become challenging for students to get by without additional support through private lessons. Stay tuned for the second part of this series for important tips on finding the right fit in private tutoring services.

– Take initiative and stay engaged
Be proactive in your child’s education. Ask your child to show you their schoolwork, test results, syllabus, etc. Reach out to their teacher and ask them for regular feedback. If employing a private tutoring service, continue these important steps even after a qualified tutor is acquired. Parents play a major role in their child’s education and no tutor can replace that. Be part of bridging the gap in the teacher-student-tutor relationship.

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In part two of this series…

We’ll explore the important roles of a student’s teacher and tutor in student academic success. Although the dynamics between student and parent are critical in seeing progress, there are still simple and practical things parents can do to get the most out of their child’s teacher and their tutoring experience. Stay tuned for more on this in the next post.