From the February 2018 issue

Cutting Down Distractions in High School

A teacher from Lakeview Public Schools in St. Clair Shores offers advice on helping kids stay focused.

From friends and homework to sports and jobs, there’s a lot of stuff demanding high school students’ time and attention. Theresa Walker, a special education resource teacher and accommodations coordinator for Lakeview Public Schools in St. Clair Shores, delves into three top classroom distractions – and offers practical tips to help your teen stayed focused.

Cell phones

They’re the worst perp. “It’s a battle we, as teachers, fight every day,” Walker says. Classroom rules aside, what can parents do to curb device use?

“Don’t text your child during school,” for one. Walker has also seen phone plans that limit texting and data usage during school hours. You can still call if there is an emergency, she says, but kids can’t text or use social media. She also suggests discussing the purpose of the cell phone with kids and making sure they understand appropriate use.

Friends

“It’s important that parents remind (kids) that there is always time for friends after school or on the weekend,” Walker says. Students often see their friends for more hours per day than their parents, she adds. Arguments with boyfriends or girlfriends or a disagreement over a social media post can lead to large distractions.

“The drama drives a lot of what happens during the school day.”

Get to know your kid’s friends, she says – which can be difficult, given the large network teens can often have through social media. “Parents need to have involvement and also educate their child on what is a friend. Their primary focus at school is the kids they are surrounded by.”

Motivation

Often, “kids aren’t motivated to do well,” Walker says, especially if they plan to go to a trade school or join the military. “They don’t think that the education they are getting is valuable.” But there will always be high-stakes testing.

“I remind my students that you have to hustle in life, no matter what,” she says. “So are you going to hustle to just make it by, or are you going to hustle to get what you want?”

Help your kids see the connection, she says, and instill in them the value of education.

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