How to Use the Parent Portal the Right Way

How to Use the Parent Portal the Right Way

It’s Friday afternoon and you get an email from the parent portal. Your child has a low grade in English. Ugh. So you open the portal to check all her grades. And lose your dang mind.

To get her back on track, you’re now checking the portal every day and your stress level is going up and up. Been there, done that?

Most school Learning Management Systems (LMS) have an online parent portal. The parent portal is a way for parents to stay up to date with their child’s grades and to spur communication with teachers.

It can also become a nightmare for parents and their kids along the way. From parents who never check the portal to parents who check it waaaay too much. From teachers who update every day and those that update every other month. It can be a lot to handle.

Today, let’s talk about some of the best ways to handle the parent portal and how to use it responsibly!

How to Use the Parent Portal the Right Way

Don’t Check All the Time

Seriously. Don’t use the portal every single day. Grades are usually fluid from day to day or week to week, especially at the beginning of the grading period. That single low test grade in the beginning of the marking period may not affect the grade much by the end.

One of my favorite pieces of advice for parents regarding the parent portal – let your kid see the grade first. The grade belongs to your child, not you. Give them the space to process that grade first and THEN talk to them about it.

Check the parent portal every other week or so. If your kiddo tends to miss assignments, check weekly. Create a time to sit down with your teen to review those grades. Bring a snack to share and try to keep the stress level down.

Learn How the Portal Works

Not gonna lie – this may not be the easiest. Some portals are easier to figure out than others. Your school might have a video or online training for parents – look for that on the website.

Things you need to know: 

  • What can I see in the portal – averages or all the assignments?
  • What do the various symbols or grades mean?
  • Does an “Incomplete” affect the grade? What about a “Missing” assignment?
  • How can I tell if an assignment has been turned in, but not yet graded?

Other questions are specific to your school or teacher:

  • When will grades be updated?
  • How many grades will my child have for the entire grading period?
  • How is my child’s grade calculated?

Use the Portal as a Starting Point

The parent portal is a place to start. If you notice trends in your child’s performance that worry you, communicate with the teacher. If you don’t understand how a grade is calculated, communicate with the teacher.

And don’t forget to talk to your child! What patterns do they notice? What are they concerned about? Thrilled about? You might be surprised at how aware your child is of her own learning!

Monitor Learning

Remember that grades don’t equal learning. Yes, those math quizzes may be low, but maybe your child has a problem with the testing, not the content. Does your child feel like he is learning more?

This is why you need to have a discussion with your children. Not only about the numbers on the screen. But what topics they are learning about in class. Ask them to describe mitosis to you. Read their English novel with them and talk about it. Watch a movie about the era they are studying in history. This not only reinforces their learning, but builds a more positive relationship with you!

The parent portal is a powerful tool to keep up to date with your child’s grade. Don’t let it take over, though! Remember that grades are just one aspect of your child’s learning!

How do you use the parent portal? Let me know in the comments below!

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