If your son is in elementary or lower school, why not send a simple email to his teacher to ask how he is adjusting to being back in school and how the school day is going for him? You will want to avoid sounding like the pushy or overly worried mom, but you can ask how he is doing without going overboard in an email. Is there is a subject matter that he likes a lot and/or is doing particularly well in, and how you can support that progress? Alternatively, if there if there are any academic or behavioral issues on the horizon, this would be a good time to calmly discuss them before they come to a head.
If he is in middle or junior high school it will be important to check via email in with a range of his teachers. You can ask to meet with them, but you may be able to get all the info you need via email. If you are not inclined to reach out to all of them, aim for the teachers who teach subjects in which he is not as strong or confident. Try to get a sense of when some of the larger projects and upcoming tests will be. If your son uses a large desk calendar to keep track of his workload (and we at GCP highly recommend this in addition to putting it in an electronic calendar; mapping it out this way can help with organization) encourage him to pencil in upcoming deadlines and work backwards to ensure that there will be enough time to complete the project or study for the test.
Your high schooler may see himself as totally independent, and you may have less regular contact with his high school teachers, but now is a good time to check in with them as well. Again, start with a few strategic emails to get a sense of the workload in general and how he is handling it, and/or zero in on the courses which he finds the most difficult. The goal is not to begin the year micromanaging teachers or gathering evidence about why you need to bug your child about his work. The goal is to express to his teachers your interest in his progress, ask about ways to support that progress at home and to remind them that you are a part of the team focused on his success.
Speaking of that high schooler, what is he doing for the summer of ’19? If he doesn’t know yet, it would be a good time to help him focus on finding an internship in or a job. Do you or any of your friends have contacts at companies that have high school internship programs? So many of these positions are applied for and filled via word of mouth, so it pays to ask around. Perhaps the school guidance counselor has internship info; tell your student to check there. There are many sites online that list high school internships as well.
A summer program affiliated with an university could be a good alternative to a job. The tuitions for these programs can be high, but many have financial aid available. Depending on how closely the program is fully affiliated with the university (e.g., if the classes are taught by university professors, it is a sign of a closer affiliation), it could be a good way for your high schooler to check out a college in which he is interested. You can also check out Tips on Trips and Camps for more information about academic programs for teens or summer program information in general.
Help start the new year off well by checking in!