Many a mother has sighed at the sight of an overflowing, messy backpack. Pens, papers, red ink everywhere on our kitchen counters. We’re accustomed to seeing piles of graded papers make their way home often.  While we don’t like the mess, at least this time-tested process afforded us the opportunity to review our kids’ work, discuss areas for improvement, and generally keep an eye on their academic progress.

Keeping track of homework was also fairly easy to monitor: a paper planner, worksheets for homework, or even a scratch of paper where your son feverishly wrote down his assignments from the chalkboard as he raced from the classroom.

Times have changed incredibly quickly.  Now, you might see far fewer papers in your daughter’s backpack. She takes her tests and quizzes online these days. Apparently there are portals we can jump through to see her work, and there are electronic classrooms where her assignments are not only posted, but submitted. The grades are detailed online and you can see them, but you have to know where and when to look.

It can be challenging to keep with up each teacher’s chosen online tools.  Who has time to log in to four different places just to find out this week’s homework?

Each school district in Hampton Roads uses a different online grade book tool.

Once you have accessed your student’s record through one of these tools, what’s next in keeping up with all the different programs and tools used in the classroom?  Here are some great tips for staying in touch with your student’s academic progress in the digital age:

  • You don’t have time to look up an email address while dinner is boiling over on the stove. Make a quick-reference guide detailing each class in your child’s schedule this year, the teacher’s name, contact preference, method for assigning work, and grade accessibility.  It might look something like this:


You can then use it (or even better — direct your son to use it!) when you’re in a hurry on a Tuesday night.

  • Schedule time each week with your student to review each subject, the assigned homework, and work plan for the week, given outside activities and overall schedule. For many families, weekends are ideal for these conversations — Saturday afternoons, Sunday mornings.  Everybody is generally rested and less stressed.
  • Check in often. Within the settings of each online portal, parents can set up their account to receive reports of grade changes.  Many parents set up alerts to let you know if your daughter earned a C or below. Get to know your child’s online system, and use it to stay abreast of your student’s academic standing. A word of caution: Avoid going overboard with checking the online portals. We’ve talked to lots of families for whom the daily, and even multiple-times-daily check-ins, have become sources of stress and disharmony in the home. Particularly for older children, the onus should be on your child to manage her academic performance. The check-ins are for you to see where she needs help, not for you to pester her nightly about all seven subjects. If you truly feel like your child is in a place where every subject needs daily monitoring, please talk to us. This is likely stressful for both you and your child, and we can help.
  • If you are unsure of the tools in use at your school or school division, ask for help! Your kid’s teachers or school counselor can help you understand how to best support your child.

Tutor A Team wants to partner with you to make the most of your child’s academic journey.  We will work with you to ensure you know the ins and outs of your school system’s online tools, and how to use them to monitor progress. Our tutors promote a “team” concept, where the parents, teachers, tutor, and student communicate regularly on goals and progress. A tutor can help you build a system for effectively supporting your child.

What are your thoughts on how to maximize these powerful online tools to support our students?  What tips do you have to share?