The right answers to the questions can mean success for our kids

My Student Success Project presentations have brought me incredible joy, purpose and meaning knowing that I’ve been able to help kids from all zip codes in defining what success means to them. It’s quite the departure from having our kids constantly having to live up to someone else’s expectations.

I’ve tried hard to ensure my SSP students know that success is NOT measured by SAT’s, GPA’s and the name of the school you attend. But rather, have them focus on being confident, self-reliant and proud in what they do.

But what has my Student Success Project has brought me the most? – Amazing questions, comments, feedback, emails, calls, posts and tweets. Over the next few issues I am going to be answering many of these questions starting with this first one:

Q: What concerns you the most about schools?

A: Believe it or not, I’m concerned about their health. If our kids are stressed out, if they’re overmedicated—as more and more kids are—it’s not a good indicator of a lifetime of wellness and success.

The reality is that healthy students are much more likely to be successful, and parents need to begin to recognize that. Many have commented that their children’s attitudes toward learning and school is changing from enthusiastic to apathetic.

And when they began to complain about not feeling well during times of increased pressure—loading up on tests and homework—there was something fundamentally wrong with their educational experience.

Q: What is the biggest challenge students face today?

A: Students of all ages are managing the expectations of teachers on top of their parents, coaches, and tutors. With that comes their need to develop as healthy human beings—to socialize and to do things that students are wired to do—is affected by demands on their time.

Many teachers are being flexible as they give students that same flexibility to manage their schedules and the expectations of the very well meaning adults in their lives.

Q: Do you think some parents tend to focus more on checking in about school and less on checking in with their kid?

A: Yes, but I don’t fault parents for that because they are torn. Many schools want parents to constantly check in on their kids and their assignments, keeping track with online grading systems.

However, we want our kids to know that we treasure them irrespective of how they’re doing at school—the world won’t fall apart if they don’t do so well on that test.

It’s a weird thing. In the whole education discourse, parents are blamed if they’re helicopter parents or if they’re uninvolved, and there is no middle ground. We blame parents, we blame educators, and I think we even blame kids, rather than changing the system.

Q: What can parents do to help an overwhelmed child?

A: Parents are the keepers of balance. We want to encourage our kids to pursue their interests while avoiding academic over scheduling, and to value things like family time and rest and play, which are not just for young kids.

We are seeing that too much grading and testing is having a negative impact, so we can opt our kids out of testing or certain homework assignments. Or if they’re in high school, we can encourage them to do that on their own.

We also have to see the child in front of us. What works for your son is very different from what worked for your older daughter. As parents we obviously want to emphasize growth and the process of learning, rather than grades, test scores, and measurements.

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, founder of The Student Success Project and previously Think Factory Marketing. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or via email at, and on Facebook and YouTube as The Student Success Project.

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