How to Decide if your Child is Ready for Honors Courses

How do you choose your teenagers classes? What do you do when your tween is entering middle school? Let’s discuss how to determine your child’s school schedule for the new year.   Marni Pasch -Academic Coach Team- Pasch Academic Coach  Podcast School Counselor Gone Rogue

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Should your Teenager Take Honors Classes? - Episode 023

How to decide your child’s school schedule

It’s time to determine your child’s school schedule. Let’s forget about electives. Should your child take honors courses or stay in standard-level courses?

It's a personal question that every kiddo needs to look at, and every parent needs to decide. But how the heck do we come to that decision?

The Facebook Challenge

Your first challenge is to go Facebook and lob out this question. "What's the difference between standard and honors-level classes at your child's school?"

 Then, grab yourself a nice cup of tea, get some popcorn, and wait for the answers. You want to hear from parents. You want to hear from teachers. You'll probably hear from your friends that don't have kiddos because we all know they love to chime in.

But notice that everybody's answer is going to be different.

You'll hear there's more homework. You'll hear there’s no homework. You'll hear it's harder. You'll hear there's no difference. You might hear there's no honors-leveled offered- but what's going to drive you batty is that there doesn't seem to be one, set answer as to what the difference is between standard and honors courses.

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    Questions to ask when Consider the Move to Honors Classes

    Their Study Skill Set

    How is your child with study skills? Are they organized? Do they have strong time management skills? Are they self-motivated?

     If you said "heck, no" to all of those things, well, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be in honors classes. What it does mean is maybe they need extra support. No rule says because your child is in 6th grade they should be organized. They should be able to handle life on their own, or oh, your child's a ninth grade-they need to be self-sufficient.

    All kiddos are different, and some kids need extra support. This is particularly true if they're moving into an honors class where maybe the expectations are that they're a more self-reliant. It doesn't mean that you're going to hold their hand all the way to college. Okay? They just need a little more time.

    That being said, if your child is struggling with these skills and entering sixth grade, sign up for the Sixth Grade Success Summer Workshop

    Why do we expect students to magically become organized, motivated and unicorn-like when they enter middle school or high school?  There is no law that says when your child transitions to a new school their development shifts.  This week we talk about honors courses and academic rigor!  Check out School Counselor Gone Rogue on Itunes,Stitcher or Google Play or check out the website and show notes!

    Teacher and School Counselor Evaluations

    What are the recommendations of their teachers and their school counselor?

    Start with the teacher. The teacher sees them every day. Ask them, "Do you think my child is ready to take an honors level class?" And see what they say. Then, ask the school counselor, "Do you have any data that would support whether or not my child should stay in standard courses or go to honors?" And once you get that information, we move on to the next step. Look at your kiddo's grades. Do they have high grades? Do they have low grades? Are they all over the place? And if they're all over the place, that might have to do with the first thing we mentioned, which is study skills, organization, and all of those things. And this is where you have to ask yourself if your child has low grades, is it because they're not capable? Is it because they're not being challenged? Why do you think there are low grades?

    As a family, you need to take all the information that you have and make a decision as to what the reason is behind the low grades, and is that a deciding factor in whether they go to an honors class.

    Don’t automatically assume that the school will place your child in the appropriate level courses. As a parent it is our responsibility to ensure the rigor is correct. This means making sure that our kiddos are in less intense classes when appropriate and more difficult classes when needed.   Class assignment should not be determined only on test scores. It requires a team of people looking at the needs of each student-that includes the parent.  Listen to School Counselor Gone Rogue a podcast on struggling students and education!

    The importance of Parent Advocacy when Choosing Classes

    The most important thing we need to do as parents is to gather the information and advocate for our children. Don’t sit back and let the school decide where your child is supposed to be- that might not always be the right answer. Advocate for your kiddo.

    Just because they've been in standard classes does not mean they're not ready to take the leap into honors courses.

     I met so many students who are on the standard track that could've easily made the switch to honors. If you sense that your child is ready to move up to honors after many years of being in standard-level classes, look at their grade history. Do they have B's and A's right now in their standard level course? What's holding them back from moving into honors? Is it a fear that there's going to be more work? Make an appointment with your child's school counselor and say, "This is the work level that they've demonstrated being in the standard course. I would like them to move up to honors next year." Show them the data. School counselors eat up data like pellets in a Pac-Man game.

    In Closing

    Your challenge this week is to look at your child's schedule, look at their grades, take an honest assessment of their study skills and their organization, which are all things that can be improved upon, and decide whether they're ready to make the leap into honors courses. This is an audit that you should do every single year.

    Students you don't get to say, "I don't want to go to honors because it's going to be more homework," or "My friends aren't doing it.”

     Number two, parents, just because little Jackie Sue down the street's parents have her signed up in sixth grade for dual enrollment and AP courses and honor roll does not mean your child should follow the same path.

    That's two tough loves right there, one for the parent, and one for the student.

    Need some help getting the grades to transition to honors next year? Check out my free resource the Test Prep Roadmap at



    • Deciding whether your child should take honors classes

    • How to determine the difference between honors and standard courses

    • Are honors classes right for your child?



    Marni Pasch| Host of School Counselor Gone Rogue| Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching

    I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors.

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