How can I encourage my child to consider some challenging classes for next school year?
At Norwalk Middle School and Norwalk High School, students are in the process of signing up for classes for the upcoming school year. Often times, students are concerned that scheduling a challenging class might adversely affect their grade point average. More and more research, however, is backing up what many parents have always known. Most students, not just those who always seem to get straight As, can do well in tough classes if they are willing to work hard.
A few years ago, the department of education did a study showing that students did better in college if they had some experiences taking tough courses. That was true even if their grades in high school weren't great. The study also found that A students who avoided tough classes didn't do as well in college.
Here's what parents can do according to Jay Mathews, writing in the Washington Post:
Encourage your teen to take at least one class that won't come easy. Your teen may not get the best grades, but will learn study skills and self-discipline, along with a lot of new information.
Don't accept an excuse like "I'm not smart enough." Being smart is not the key. Putting in lots of effort and sticking to it are the things that work.
Notice and be proud of effort. A teen who is trying to succeed at something new deserves lots of praise along the way.
Encourage small steps. Taking one new challenging class is a great first step. Taking five may lead to overload and stress.
Dr. Wayne Babcanec is the superintendent of Norwalk City Schools.