By Katherine Zucco
MMI Social Sciences Instructor
All parents want their children to succeed at MMI, but some may not be sure how to help when their children enroll in the AP program. For this blog, teachers at MMI brainstormed together and created this quick guide to “Surviving AP” for parents.
Perhaps the best starting point is sharing a culture of optimism about school. This can be difficult to do if we hold on to our own negative experiences from our past, so it is important to stay positive as your children encounter new challenges or perceived setbacks in the AP curriculum. A child can easily obsess over a mistake, but when you help your children focus on the rewards of effort and progress, they will learn how to keep mistakes and uncertainty in perspective.
It is also important to be as involved as possible in your children’s education. Studies agree this is the best indicator to determine success in school. Many of our students have eventful school-related schedules, and they want to share what they are doing with you. Sit down with your children and ask open-ended questions about their classes, share any knowledge you have about the subject, and ask your children to read and practice their work (such as scholarly essays, creative writing assignments, and word problems) in front of you to build literacy and critical thinking skills.
Another way to help your children succeed in AP is to have an open and honest conversation about setting reasonable expectations. It is no secret that your child will take on more demanding tasks and will be expected to stay on top of all his or her assignments, but even the best of us get overwhelmed sometimes! Knowing how to create a balanced academic and extracurricular calendar will help your children “see” where they must schedule their time. Encourage your children to prioritize their assignments and help them make “downtime” for themselves.
Finally, I think it’s important to remember: “Life is not a sprint; it's a marathon.” It’s about never giving up, persevering, and burning slowly, not exploding into ashes like fireworks. This simple phrase says so much in so few words. It cautions us to pace ourselves and to take things one step at a time. We can’t push too hard all of the time. My advice to parents is to embrace this attitude wholeheartedly this year. The ultimate finish line when enrolling in the AP program is for students to learn the material expertly, in order to score high enough on the AP Exam so they can opt out of a Gen-Ed college level course. The AP workload is challenging, but the payoff for a good AP exam score can be several college credits. Students have even been able to place out of courses or skip certain core requirements because of excellent AP exam scores. So if your children have a positive attitude, do homework and reading assignments on time, complete practice problems prior to quizzes and tests, ask relevant questions, and manage their time wisely, they will be set for success! But most importantly, they will have the support of their parents and teachers to help them achieve the ultimate goal, one step at a time.