What NOT to do when Choosing your Child's School Classes
How not to choose your child’s school schedule - Episode 026
It’s Time to Think about Class Schedules
If you’re like many parents and students, this can be an overwhelming time of year – especially if you’re a student just trying to make it through the current school year, or a parent who is worrying about whether your kid will be going to summer school or not.
Now is the time that school administrators start looking toward the next school year –including forecasting of classes – what students want to take, what they have to take, and how to balance that. That’s why counselors come into fifth grade, middle school classes and beyond, and ask students to choose their classes for the next year.
This is especially important for kids going into the transition years – from elementary to middle school or middle to high school. If you’re transitioning to middle school next year, or know someone who is, I would love for you to go (or send someone) to my middle school success roadmap, which gives you things to do month by month to ensure your kids are as prepared as they can be to start middle school. Go to www.teampasch.com/sixthgradesuccessroadmap to get this free resource.
What NOT to do when Selecting School Courses
Don’t Pick a Class Based on your Friend’s Interests
In theory, it sounds wonderful. But I saw this backfire. Let’s say art is the popular class. There could be 5 different classes of art and your friend might be in AP English or advanced English, and you’re in a different level. This section of art is at the same time as your friend’s English class.There’s no guarantee that you’ll both get into the same section. What’s worse – you might hate art, and then you have to suffer through art class that you didn’t want to take in the first place with people you don’t even like! There’s no guarantee you’ll even get into the same class.
Let’s say you really like debate, but you didn’t list it because you wanted to be in art with your friend. Let’s say your parents are pushing you to take piano, and you didn’t get into art, but you did get piano. But you listed forensics third, and you didn’t even get in there. If it’s your genuine interest, go with it. Just know that just because your friends are signing up for – don’t let it make your life miserable for the next year. If you try to change your schedule, you could get stuck in classes that are even worse.
Parents- Don’t Let your Social Circle or Dreams of Harvard Dictate the Schedule
Let’s say your student is going to be in algebra in seventh grade. That might be really cool, but here’s the thing you’re not thinking about: they’re really good at algebra and taking it in seventh grade. What comes next in eighth grade? Are they taking geometry in eighth grade? What comes next as a freshman? Are they taking algebra II, are they taking Pre-Calc? Does your school require that students who take Algebra II take a chemistry course? What happens if your kiddo wanted to take biology but can’t because they’re on this math track?
Are they ready for the steps that follow Algebra in the seventh grade? Even if they’re really good at it, are they going to be able to handle the advanced math that they’ll be required to do freshman year? I see parents getting caught up in the pride of having a seventh grader in algebra and not looking further down the road at what’s required later.
Don’t Choose a Course Based on the Teacher or Homework Level
What you don’t know going on behind the scenes at school could fill three seasons of Dynasty and Dallas. You don’t know if a teacher is leaving. You don’t know if a teacher is staying. You don’t know if a teacher currently in a course is going to teach another class.
I’ve seen so many parents and students in jaw dropping disbelief because they thought they had it all figured out. I’ve seen the rug ripped out from everyone when the rumor mill isn’t true. Admin is really good at figuring out what rumors are going around and keeping a lid on things. Don’t let a certain teacher dictate what classes you take. Because things can change.
Don’t Pick a Class Based on Lunch Hour
This is another thing that I saw happen. I kinda got it, because at the high school here, you eat lunch ridiculously early so no one wanted that lunch period. Don’t plan your schedule for a specific lunch period because bell schedules change every year. The master schedule is not set until later. What you’re signing yourself up for in this moment might be very different next year, and you might have locked yourself into a 10 a.m. lunch period.
No amount of bribing is going to ensure your lunch hour. I had students crawl into my office asking for ANOTHER change because they thought they had tricked the system and it came out worse. Don’t do it.
Don’t Forget to Turn in your Schedule Selection Form
Chances are school counselors have been to your child’s classes, they have sent paperwork home. They have sent a snapchat in an attempt to contact your student in any way possible about their courses for next year. If your child hasn’t come home and said, “I got this shiny piece of paper with my course selection for next year,” ask them. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’ll happen soon. It’s getting really close. Check their online grading system for updates. You don’t want to miss this crucial step because if the form isn’t turned in- you might get the bottom of the barrel -especially when it comes to electives.
BETTER YET- TAKE A PHOTO OF YOUR FORM AND IT BEING EMAILED OR TURNED IN. Proof is good.
If you do nothing, that’s a school counselor’s dream. They get to put you wherever you need to. They’ll have your back for core classes, but as far as a electives, its’ a field day. No one wanted to sign up for piccolo, and Johnny didn’t choose electives so he must have wanted to learn to play piccolo!
Parents, ask questions: Did you get a form? Did someone talk to you about classes for next year? If your child doesn’t have answers, reach out to counselors and administrators and ask questions.
These tips will help you to ensure that the schedule is a lot less shocking when school starts. Also, consider the Sixth Grade Success Roadmap if you have a student who is (or know someone) transitioning into sixth grade and beyond. Every school has a different process for class selection, but these basic steps will get your mind focused on preparing for next year!
Choosing your child’s classes in middle school and high school
Don’t let friends decide your school schedule
The importance of parent involvement in school schedules
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.