parent portal

When my oldest started middle school, we were informed there was a place online where parents could go and check on their children’s progress and assignments—aka the parent portal.

At first, I thought this was a great idea—it would be nice be to see what my son does every day! But I quickly changed my mind. Soon, it started making my head spin. I realized neither him nor I were benefitting from me visiting the portal on the daily.

So I stopped. And guess what? We all lived, and I was a happier woman for it—for a lot of reasons:

I couldn’t keep up. It just wasn’t feasibleBefore I knew it, I had three kids in school. I couldn’t check each portal every day on top the other demands of parenting, like managing our sports schedules, getting all of us out the door on time, and you know, just keeping my kids alive.

It takes responsibility away from the kids. When kids get reminders from their teachers while at school, which are repeated by their parents at night, how much accountability do they really have? I want my kids to remember to do things on their own. I want them to learn to be independent. Managing their own workloads and using to learn tools like a homework log allows them to develop important skills they’ll need later in life.

I didn’t want to do it. Yes, I care about my kids’ education, but this was one more thing I felt I had to do because it was available. Moms have a hard enough time remembering which day it is without also keeping tabs on their child’s daily math homework.

I’d rather talk to my kids. Do my kids always tell me the truth about what’s going down at school? No, they don’t. But for the most part, I can tell when something’s up. I’d rather just sit down and talk to them about how they feel they’re doing. I weave questions about school into conversations about friendships and other aspects of their lives so it doesn’t seem too work-centric. I notice my kids shut down when I only ask them if they’re handing in assignments on time.

They need to learn to change their habits if they fall behind. My kids need to experience the consequences of bad grades, whether that’s staying after school to make up work or giving up some of their extra-curricular activities. It’s not about letting my kids fail; it’s about teaching them to succeed on their own. They should be motivated by not having to stay after school to make up work rather than me nagging them.

Conferences and report cards are enough. I go to conferences, meet with my kids’ teachers a few times a year, and look over their report cards with them. To me, that’s enough to let me know how they are doing in school. Then, they are rewarded or punished accordingly. If we get great feedback, I believe a special meal out or an ice cream cone is in order. If they haven’t been demonstrating the work ethic that I expect of them, they lose things like screen time.

They can check it for me. Occasionally I tell my kiddos to log onto their portal so I can peek over their shoulders. This keeps me enough in the loop while making sure they’re the ones monitoring their progress and assignments.

Learning to meet deadlines is a part of life. There was a time when these portals didn’t exist, and many kids thrived without it. While constantly checking the school portal might work for some parents, I feel it takes something away from my children—and that something includes independence, responsibility, and agency over their own educations.

Besides, I can spend the time I used to spend looking at the school portal scrolling through Instagram or Facebook instead, which is way more fun.

Photo: Getty