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School Influence on Student Success

Disappointed teenage girl student holding test,She's 12 going on 20 book on tweens by Kim Camp Thomas Nelson

School influence can play a bigger role on student success than you may have previously realized.

Do you ever get the feeling that your daughter isn’t really paying attention to her schoolwork?

Do you worry about her focus (or lack of focus) on learning and education, considering the countless distractions she faces every day?

The truth is, she’s probably a lot more concerned about her academic standing than you think she is. Out of hundreds of girls surveyed around the country, grades were listed as one of their top five concerns. In fact, 88 percent placed grades as their number one concern in life at the time of the survey.

With grades being a top concern, why is it that parents tend to see a decline in their daughters’ scholastic interests? As girls enter junior high, they often feel pressure to be popular, so they focus on sports or other extracurricular activities in order to fit in and maintain a good social position. Getting good grades is often thought of as “nerdy.” Peer pressure highly influences academic achievement.

What does your daughter want to achieve academically? Ask her to tell you about her goals and why they are important to her. Where does she want to go to college? What kind of GPA will she need to be accepted there? How hard will she have to work to qualify and apply for scholarships? These are issues that need to be discussed before high school begins, not after high school graduation.

Parents need to remember that school influence and peer pressure are not always negative. Your daughter may be used as the catalyst for bringing positive thinking into her group of friends. Real friends influence others in a positive way, drawing them toward healthy choices. If she continues to receive unhealthy pressure about doing or being her best, it would be wise for her to step back from her present group and find some new friends who will support and affirmatively challenge her.

Our daughters need our guidance and our active influence in their lives. Otherwise, their peers will direct their thinking.

Girls are concerned about their grades because they have been told all their lives that they are important. But once they show up at middle school, they don’t always know how to get the high marks they once received in elementary school. Suddenly they have more teachers to relate to and their classes are generally larger. Homework is increased, and they feel overwhelmed. All of this is happening while their bodies are changing and their self-consciousness is skyrocketing.

As moms, we can sit down and discuss these issues. It’s important that we let our daughters know they are normal. Yes, other girls are having the same struggles. No, they are not dumb or defeated.

It’s exciting to see our children reach their goals, especially when they are motivated to do so. When they become discouraged, which will happen in the process of success, remind them of Philippians 3:13–14:

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

As our daughters do their best before us and God, as they seek to learn and develop their God-given curiosity, they will bring home the appropriate grades. My sister was a 4.0 student who had lots of friends and she hardly had to study. I, on the other hand, struggled to keep a 3.25. My focus was on people instead of academic success, and it would have been a constant frustration for me to have to study nonstop to maintain a 4.0.

I was grateful to my parents for allowing me to be the girl God designed when it came to my studies, rather than pressuring me to make the same GPA as my sister. Let’s help our daughters do their very best, and let’s do our part in minimizing their fears. The more support and encouragement they receive from us, the likelier they are to achieve success in school—and in life.

Your Turn

Does your teen feel an unrealistic pressure to succeed in school? Let her tell you whether you are supporting her in a way that spurs her on to do her best.