One of the most important things parents can do to help children succeed in school is to be aware of their progress in the classroom. As a result, many parents hope teachers will call home at the first sign of trouble. Unfortunately, that's not realistic.

How many students do you think a middle or high school teacher sees every day--50? 100? 150? Teaching in an urban middle school, I taught five classes with 33 students each. In my school, teachers were expected to call home any time a student’s grade dropped below a C, and anytime a student misbehaved in class. Additionally, I enjoyed making positive phone calls home, so I also called when a student excelled. However, it can be literally impossible for a teacher to call home every time a student misses an assignment.

Despite this reality, it's still crucial for the parents to know what their child has done in class. So what’s the solution?

The parent and teacher can work out a simple system of daily communication. Have the student create a four-column chart to track his or her work. He or she can list the days of the week in the first column, and describe each assignment in the second. The teacher should stamp or initial the third column if the assignment is done on time. Use the fourth for the parent’s initials.

The parent can check the sheet each evening for that night’s homework assignment, and to make sure yesterday’s assignment was done on time. Just make sure the student is responsible for having the chart with him or her at all times, and remembers to have the teacher stamp it each day.

That way the parent will know what the student is doing in class without waiting for the teacher to call. Also, by making the tracking sheet the student’s job, it reminds everyone that ultimately it's the student’s responsibility to complete assignments on time, not the parent’s or the teacher’s.

Teaming up with the teacher can help keep your child's homework schedule, and general academic career, on track.