10 Questions Parents Should Ask to Ensure Common Core Standards Success

By Jared Myracle

As a parent, you’re likely to wonder whether your child is acquiring the knowledge and skills she needs to meet Common Core Standards and succeed in the next grade and ultimately in life after high school. You have a responsibility to know your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses and what you can do to play a supportive role.

What’s my child currently working on?

One of the best opening questions you can ask your child’s teacher is, “What’s my child currently working on?” Knowing the concepts and skills that are the focus of study enable you to

  • Identify the standards that apply to this area of study

  • Ask your child more focused questions about what she’s doing at school

  • Start to develop ideas on what you can do at home to support your child

How well is my child meeting expectations?

A teacher’s sense of how well your child is mastering the concepts and skills required in a certain subject area is likely to provide greater insight into how your child is doing than you can glean from progress and grade reports. For example, some students who’ve mastered a topic may not hand in their homework assignments. Others may raise their grade with extra-credit assignments but not really grasp the subject.

If a child’s grades don’t match up with her knowledge and skills, find out why so you know which problem to address. If your child just doesn’t get it, that’s an entirely different problem than if she’s not turning in her homework.

May I see samples of my child’s work?

Grades may not be a clear indication of the quality of your child’s work. To see what your child is turning in and gauge the quality of her work, ask her teacher the following questions:

  • May I see samples of my child’s work?

  • What do you think about the quality of these samples?

  • What criteria do you use to measure the quality of work?

Is my child struggling in any subject areas?

You can’t address an issue you don’t know about, so ask your child’s teachers to let you know as early as possible whether your child is struggling with any concept or skill. The earlier you can get your child the help she needs in clarifying a concept or developing a skill, the better the outcome.

Many schools have technology that enables parents to check their children’s progress online. You may be able to check progress reports, grades, missed assignments, disciplinary actions, and so forth.

Knowledge and skills acquired in one grade build upon knowledge and skills mastered in the previous grade. Falling behind requires extra effort to catch up.

In which subject areas does my child excel?

Some students are incredibly gifted and driven to excel in certain academic areas. You need to know which subject areas these are as much as you need to know the areas in which your child struggles, so you can

  • Encourage and support your child in pursing her interests and developing her special abilities

  • Help your child plan a path for future success that makes the most of her abilities

  • Harness her success in one area of study to encourage success in other areas of pursuit

What can I do to help my child achieve the Common Core Standards?

Your child’s teacher is likely to have a host of her own ideas and suggestions. Most teachers are more than happy to tap the power of involved parents in stimulating a student’s interest and providing the student with the support and resources she needs to excel. After all, student success reflects positively on the teacher’s performance.

If my child needs help with homework, what resources are available?

Parents aren’t always the most qualified to help a student master a certain concept or develop a skill. That’s perfectly understandable.

If you don’t feel comfortable helping your child understand a concept, ask the teacher for other resources and forms of assistance, including:

  • Online tutorials

  • Online homework helper sites

  • Tutors (teachers or students)

  • Homework helplines

Does the school offer any opportunities for academic enrichment?

Most schools offer learning opportunities outside the classroom, such as the following:

  • School newspaper

  • Yearbook committee

  • Clubs, such as the chess club, science club, math club, and foreign language club

  • Books clubs

  • Academic Decathlon

  • Band and choir

  • Theater

All of these activities (and more) stimulate brain cells and help students develop social and communication skills. Athletic activities help in these areas, as well. Even if your child is very involved in athletics, encourage her to look into other, more-academic extracurricular activities.

What can my child be doing to develop good study habits?

Ask your child’s teacher whether he or she has any suggestions for what your child needs to do to develop good study habits. Perhaps the school or your school district’s parent-teacher association (PTA) offers a workshop for parents and students. Maybe the school has an orientation program that includes a section on study habits, or maybe your child’s teacher can recommend an online resource.

Be prepared to explore resources outside of your child’s school, and be pleasantly surprised and grateful if your school district explicitly teaches effective study habits.

Which classes should my child be taking to achieve his or her goals?

By the beginning of high school, you and your child should start thinking about your child’s academic abilities, interests, and goals and planning how to get from point A to point B, whether that point B is a college, trade school, or specific career path.

Team up with teachers, school counselors, and your child to find out where your child’s interests and abilities are leading and draw up a plan for which courses your child needs to take to prepare her for the next step in her journey to success upon graduation from high school.