Dear Parents with children in AP Classes,
I am speaking as an AP (previously World, currently US) History student.
I've noticed that some parents don't seem to fully understand what an AP Class is, nor the honest pressures that they involve. I have multiple friends with parents who don't don't understand why their child has a D in their AP course and get upset over it.
Let me make this clear, an AP course is a COLLEGE LEVEL CLASS. Not college simulating, not college practice, it is a college course. Your highschooler child is taking a college course at 14-18 years old. And that is the level they are graded on and that is the type of work they get. And check this? They don't get to decide what they do with all of their time. They're still on a highschool schedule, they can't choose when they have each class like you can in college. They have to wake up a 6-7 am 7 days a week, have a 20 minute lunch, have other work from other classes, and have to go to bed around 9-11 to get a healthy night's sleep, while not overwhelming themselves to the point of mental deterioration.
They don't have breaks in-between classes, at lunch time they have to eat, after school AP work can take 1-2 hours and then they have to find time to do work for their other classes, eat dinner, take a shower, and have enough time to get read for bed
Now, obviously, teenagers don't follow this schedule exactly, but that's the schedule we're given and have to figure out how to distribute and get all of it done while avoiding having a break down from stress and trying to have time for themselves to relax.
Most AP students will probably also have at least 1 honors class to manage as well (this is not a guarantee, but AP students can be overachievers)
Now, this is all on top of being hormonal adolescents with preexisting mental issues and stress that make it a struggle to focus and find motivation. And there's always the personal factors of maintaining relationships with friends, family (you), and whatever chores you give them
I know I'm making this sound like an absolute nightmare, and that's not my intention. I'm just explaining the schedule an AP student probably has to work around. Most of these things are probably already a part of the daily routine and the teacher will likely give multiple days to get an assignment done which helps a lot with time and work management.
So first argument- be proud of your 15 year old, who isn't completely in charge of their own time schedule, for even getting the work done at all and if you see they're struggling with that, talk to them about it and figure out the best route to help them. (Whether that's switching classes to something easier, agreeing to take their phone away for an hour, helping then create a schedule of how much time to spend on each thing they have to do and when they do it, making then take 15 minute breaks every hour, ect. (If you're helping them create and maintain a healthy schedule, always ALWAYS remember to include a decent amount of time for self care and relaxation/self indulgence, working straight through is not a good way to manage stress and overexertion, and if they end up stressed and tired, that will only limit productivity, focus, and how much they end up getting done in whatever amount of time you agree they should spend working)
Now, back to my original point...
Grading is different. A 'D-' in an AP class is an A (or a B, I can't remember exactly) in an R track class (in my school, an R track class is the more advanced class, but not an honors class)
If your child was in an on level class, they'd be passing with flying colors
Onto another issue...
A 'D' IS PASSING. No it's not above level of an actual college kid, but it's above average for a highschooler. Your child is PASSING a college level class when a lot of adults didn't even go to college (I've had friends with parents who get upset over a D when they themselves didn't even go to/finish college when they're socially expected to :| )
(Keep in mind, I'm currently APUSH, I haven't had AP English or Math, but I am in honors English)
And that work is hard. It's not just memorizing dates and names, and vocab; it's analyzing documents, breaking down historical bias, taking notes/making outlines of an entire module/chapter and picking out the most important information, applying historical context and outside knowledge, GAINING that outside knowledge. And we have to retain ALL of that. We can't just forget everything the next day or month like we can in normal classes, we have to have a memory of that all because it can come up in later months.
A 'D' is passing. And that is HARD. And it sucks for us, too, believe me, because we often feel like we did good, like it was kinda easy, and then we get our grad back and it isn't even a 'C-' ... it's kinda crushing to see that
I'm promise you, the class has made your child cry at least once in their time with it. If not yet, then it will.
These are kids who are use to getting good grades, we're as use to getting on the honor roll and easily passing our tests and seeing 100s on our worksheets as you are.
And the things is, we will improve... (Hopefully), just not right away, because we're use to on level stuff and we have to adjust to this higher, new level of thinking. It might happen at the end of highschool, too, because this shi* is DIFFICULT.
Also keep in mind that this isn't even the work that matter. It's the exam at the end of the course that matters in the end ;-; (that bi*** will feel fine, but then you'll get your results and wanna cry :))
So yeah, don't b**** over a D to your child because they honestly worked hard for that, be supportive and help create a mindset and environment that will make it easier for your child to think and focus because that's the best way to help them pass, that's how you can help. Encourage them to take breaks and take care of themselves. Getting upset with then over their grade isn't gonna do much because they probably already feel unhappy without your reinforcement of that shame, which will mess up their mental health which will make their work even worse. Your job is to take care of their mental health as much as their physical health and their grades
In my experience, positive reinforcement helps more than scolding and shaming
Oh, and if your child is in multiple AP courses? You better be giving them your pride, love, and support and you better be on top of helping them manage their time.
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