anonymous ethnic tutor helping little multiracial students with task in classroom

Be A Better Student: 3 Rules For Raising Accountable Kids

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

Proverbs, 9:9 KJV

How It Starts…

As an educator, I know how important it is for a child to be accountable. It helps when teaching them to be better a student. But, yesterday I became guilty of behaving like one of “those” parents. You know the one.

The same type of parent that I and all my co-teachers dread facing in parent-teacher conferences. The one who, despite me witnessing Timmy falling asleep in class four days in a row, denies the possibility that he might be sneaking in screen time after bed. The one whose child seemingly never talks back at home, but said child snapped at you like a Pit Bull snaps at a T-bone.

The type of parent whose child can do no wrong in their eyes. That one. I’m being very transparent here. Teachers don’t shun me. Parents don’t judge me. You know it’s true. We’ve all met at least one.

When did I start making excuses for my kid? I had to ask myself that question. It was a Friday afternoon. I had joined a conference with six of my son’s eight teachers just the Friday before via Microsoft Teams.


Sixth grade was new for him, we had all agreed with this point that day. Plus, it must be pretty challenging learning all 8 subjects virtually due to the constraints of a pandemic. After all, we were all dealing with things we had never faced before. My 11-year old was no exception.

Most of his teachers had nice things to say, and a few even made helpful suggestions. (I will get to those later on in this article.) A couple of his teachers had said a few not-so-great things.

Yes, he is in advanced, one said, but due to COVID-19, we had to use his state test scores from fourth grade. Wait, was she saying this to imply that he didn’t deserve to be in her advanced class? Well, I took it to mean just that and called her out on it. We didn’t speak on that much more after.

Later in the meeting, a few teachers mentioned missing assignments attributing to his low grades for the current grading period. Two of the six teachers mentioned low test scores on his last few exams in their classes. His science teacher joked that he received a C on an open book test.

Was it really an open book test; I had asked her. She laughed and answered, “well I am not with them to know if they go back and look up the information or not.” UGH! *HUGE side-eye. *

Where we as parents fail…

I had had it. My son is a straight-A student. We should be asking ourselves how we can fix this and in what ways are we failing him, I instructed them. In my eyes, I had asked him all the right questions to ensure his success. In my eyes, I was seeing him do the work.

Well, quickly fast forward to this past Friday when I’d realized I might need to schedule an appointment with the optometrist to check my vision. And while she’s doing that, I thought, I may as well schedule in a reality check.

During my meeting with my son’s teachers, I had managed to convince some of them to give him an extension on his late work. I remember asking him if he had completed it three distinct times that week.

By the third time my mom, who was listening via Facetime, asked did you check? He said he did, he knows how to do it. I had basically whined to her. Just check she mouthed, so he didn’t hear her.  So, yesterday I did just that.

How we can get better…

Now, I love my son. I would never want to imagine him even considering trying to pull one over on me. Add to that the fact that I believe he low-key fears me in that “my mom is crazy” type of way. So I doubt that what I saw next was deliberate.

Nonetheless, what I did see left me confused. Missing assignments all throughout the Learning Management System (his school uses Canvas). At least two or more from each class. You are missing assignments in Band!?!? I had asked him.

Tests were started but left incomplete. I could see what his teachers meant, why they had asked if he was using his agenda that day at our meeting. Now I knew why some of them did not see the brilliance that I had grown accustomed to knowing.

I was disappointed. And, I certainly let him know it. OK. Honestly, I let him have it. If you think I can write, wait until you hear me give a lecture.

No More Excuses…

We were up until 2 AM. Some of that time we spent sending e-mails to his instructors. He spent the rest of the time making up work that he had led me to believe was already made up.

And whether or not he did this knowingly was irrelevant. Before I could hold him accountable for any of it, I had to look in the mirror and acknowledge what I had done wrong. My child obviously needed clearer insight into the type of student I expected him to be. Moving forward, I have to make sure I give that to him.

Truthfully, if we want to raise responsible humans who will one day help to build and improve our society, we have to first look at ourselves and consider what we can build and where we can make improvements. Plus, dealing with a school in a traditional sense is one thing. Dealing with school online and a child who probably knows the internet better than you do is another. I know that I am not alone in this.

Many parents are dealing with their once academically excelling student slacking in the virtual school world. Students who were already struggling in the traditional classroom flat out threw in the towel when schools became virtual in March. So, now is not the time to be one of “those” parents.

Don’t do what I was so close to doing. Raise accountability in your child by following these three rules. In doing so you will teach them how to be a better student.

How our children become better…

1. Set goals and high standards

With the new year quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to sit down with your child and brainstorm a good list of goals and resolutions together. If you don’t discover this post until springtime there is no need to worry. Anytime is a good time to set goals with your child.

After all, this is what they do at school all year long. Teachers give their students academic standards with a list of learning targets to hit. Then, using a step-by-step process, they show them how to reach the target and meet the standard.

So to mold your child into a better student, set standards for them. The sooner the better. If they see that you have expectations of them, they will work to meet them. Make sure that the goals you both set are realistic and attainable.

You can start with a small goal. For example, get an A on the World History project. And then eventually, have them work their way up to a bigger one such as earning an A in World History class.  You can also work on routine goals like, study for 30 minutes every night.

Additionally, your child should know the purpose behind the goals you set together so that they can see why it is important for them to accomplish those goals. Help them formulate a plan, and when problems arise (because they will) assist them in deviating when and where necessary. Ultimately, this will help your child improve as a student.

2. Teach your child how to maintain a good work ethic

Equally important, is teaching your child how to have and maintain a good work ethic for school. CareerBuilder says that a good work ethic is a must-have trait that employers look for in their employees (Cote, 2019).

Learning to have a good work ethic means that your child will have the decency and understand the value of completing tasks and responsibilities on the job. Not only will this help your child to keep work in the future, but it will also teach him or her to be a better student.

On one hand, no child is born with a work ethic. On the other hand, it is definitely something that can develop over time. Therefore, in order to aid in your child becoming a stronger student, you must focus on nurturing the following now.

Steps To A Better Work Ethic

First, make all of your child’s work apart of a routine and show them how to use their time wisely. To do this you should find a place in the house (a calendar, a planner, a dry erase board), to write down your child’s chores and/or schoolwork. This way all work becomes apart of those expectations I alluded to in #1. Also, make it a point to set deadlines and have consequences in place if those deadlines aren’t met.

Next, tell your child to look at school like they would their future jobs or careers. It is our responsibility as parents to show our kids the reality they could be facing when they grow up so that they can be prepared.

Because in being prepared, they have more of a chance at being successful. So, in this manner, the school can teach them the value of keeping up with their assignments, setting goals to meet an expectation, and, if not met, the consequences that follow.

Another way that you can teach your children a good work ethic is by working with them. Not only does this show them that having a good work ethic can mean working together as a team, but it also gives you the opportunity to show them what a good work ethic looks like yourself.

3. Follow up

Of course, none of this means anything if we don’t do our jobs as parents and follow all of this up. To raise a better student, try your very best to investigate and ask questions. It is much easier knowing that you and your child are on the same page. This last step will assist you in that department.

Furthermore, while teaching I have learned that students look forward to results and feedback. Checking in not only helps to ensure your kiddos are meeting your expectancy, but it also gives you the chance to provide them with advice and some perspective.

All in all, it is always good for your children to see that you care about their performance and that their accomplishments are just as important to you as it is to them.

Let’s start a discussion. Have you been having a hard time keeping your child accountable in school? Are you anxious to send them back to the physical classroom? Comment down below and tell me what your biggest concerns are when it comes to your child’s schooling.

Before you go, check out these HELPFUL articles on Accountability:

Raising Children: BlackboardMom’s Advice on Building Your Evolved Nest

Teach Your Child Responsibility- 7 Tips to Get Started

How to Create a Culture of Accountability in Your Home

How to Help Your Child With Accountability


Cote, A. (2019, November, 4). The benefits of a strong work ethic, and how it can help you land and keep your dream job. Paymo.

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