It may or may not be too late for Johnnie to pull off a passing grade, but if you (or your kid) find yourself wondering about summer school, it is definitely time to pay attention!

First of all, at this point in the year, a very low grade each semester may not be enough to pass, and you’re a little late to the table if you’re just getting the message. If it’s Honor Roll you’re hoping for, there may still be time for extra credit or to ace that final exam. If your kid was a slow starter or had trouble getting over the hump, he or she will probably be fine. When it’s really time to worry is when your kid never started at all and now it’s May.

As a mom and teacher, I recognize not everyone is an A student and not every kid has the same innate ability. I also recognize every kid is different and every family lives with different circumstances. Yes, rules are rules and we have to follow them, but if you find yourself facing summer school, I have advice.

Call the teacher or meet with the school

Find out exactly where your kid stands academically. At this late point in the school year, this should not be your first inkling that Johnnie is not doing well. It’s probably too late to get a tutor. Find out if he can do extra work to pull up the low grade. If grades have been so low all year, your child may have to attend summer school or even repeat the class (for high school credit).

Talk to your child

What has been happening every day when homework is assigned, quizzes and tests are announced, or projects given? Does your child have an organized way of keeping track, like a notebook or binder system? If the organization from September is long gone, get it back. Now is not the time to lose important papers or assignments. Kids need to “own it,” or their education becomes your job instead of theirs. Provide structure after school, including a time and place for your child to work undisturbed.

Parents, Engage!

This is not an attack. A parent’s job is to guide, teach, support, encourage and challenge each child. If you want your kid to reach his or her potential, get engaged. Not to be married, but get involved in what your kid is learning and help him or her reach higher. Make education a priority. Homework first, play later. No screen time until homework and chores are done. I hope my kids will like me, someday, but right now, I have to be their boss. I can be a fun boss, sometimes, but usually I have to get off my butt and engage the kids in order to teach, guide and challenge them.

So summer school is happening. Now what? Don’t be too mad. It won’t help. Work on getting your kid organized, rested and ready to learn, engage with your child and his or her teacher to increase the likelihood of success. Just because summer school is only 4 or 6 weeks does not mean it doesn’t matter or it’s okay to let your kid just tune out. Maybe make your kid work to pay off the cost of summer school. Even if your kid passed by the skin of his or her teeth, so to speak, keep the conversation active and your expectations high. Kids will rise to the occasion, but we parents need to step up and demand hard work and dedication. Every kid is not an academic, but given effort and determination, learning and success follow.