Parents, PowerSchool and student stress

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Students in the United States are reporting all-time high levels of stress and anxiety. Just under half of all high school students report daily feeling stressed and overwhelmed about grades. So, what does this mean for parents?

Some suggestions are that starting in elementary school, parents should shift questions about the school day from a focus on grades and performance to include questions about who they sat with at lunch, what they did at recess, and if something funny happened at school. Checking in on homework and grades is fine but consider balancing that with the focus on the other social aspects of learning that happen at school.

Starting around middle school, one tool schools are using to keep students and parents up to date on progress are apps like PowerSchool. PowerSchool lets students and parents log in and see grades on homework, quizzes and tests and can show missing work as well. Here is the problem: it is not always up to date, and therefore presents an inaccurate status. Often our clients express frustration over parents getting upset or angry over missing assignments when their child has handed it in and is waiting for the teacher to grade the papers. Other times, a student has done poorly on a single test or quiz, but because other grades have not been entered, parents panic over a “failing” grade that is not accurate. The student knows he or she has handed in other work that has not yet been entered.

PowerSchool can be a helpful tool, but it also causes a lot of unnecessary stress when parents check it constantly. Checking in once a week or a couple of times a month gives you a snapshot of your child’s progress. What you see might prompt an email to the teacher to ask if there is a problem, and depending on what you hear, this could mean a discussion with your child about how he or she is doing. Checking in constantly seems to lead to increased levels of student stress and can hurt your relationship with your child. Finding a balance can be hard but well worth it if we can help our students feel less anxious and pressured in school.