-How to not feel like it’s a waste of time
When your first child goes to school, the invitation to go to “Back to School Nights” “Meet the Teacher” is exciting, but that can wane as the school years increase. As many children advance through the elementary years into high school, attendance at parent-teacher conferences often declines. There are many reasons why this might be the case. Sometimes parents just don’t feel like it is useful. To counter this I would like to offer some topics to explore during your conversation with your child’s teacher that might help you get more out of the time. Go into the meeting knowing what you want to get out of it.
Talking to Your Child’s Classroom Teacher
How does this teacher prefer to communicate with you and to receive communication from you? Discuss what works and does not work well for your family.
What will your child be learning this year? How will assessments be done to verify that s/he is learning? Be sure to let the teacher know if there are topics that are of special interest to your child. “Do you have any expertise in any of these topics?” – this might be a good avenue to volunteer and serve the school community.
How much homework will be given? How will the assignments be communicated? What are the consequences of missed assignments? In some classrooms assignments count as a portion of your child’s grades. How does your teacher see your role as a parent in homework supervision? Read More: The Stressed Parent’s Guide To Homework Without War
What are the primary rules in the classroom? How will the teacher recognise positive behaviours as well as manage inappropriate behaviours? If you know your child is prone to acting up inappropriately don’t gloss over it. It is more productive for your family to engage your teacher early in open conversation about your child’s challenges. Be sure to let the teacher know 2 strategies that work well for these behaviours at home. And/Or, you can ask him/her for advise, “how have you successfully dealt with _______________ in the past?” This will go a long way in building a collaborative supportive network for your child.
Parent Involvement –
How can you support your child’s learning at home? How can you support the classroom in the year? Maybe you can’t volunteer weekly but you can help at home with material prep. Or maybe you can help sponsor or coach a school’s extra-curricular program (sports, clubs, events, etc). Teachers often have an idea of the calendar of field trips for the year, or at least for the present term/semester. Ask if you can get a copy so that you can arrange your schedule in advance to attend. Children whose parents are more involved in their school life have been demonstrated to get better grades and are more successful in their adult years.
Accommodations & Supports.
If your child has a learning disability, #ADHD, a sensory processing disorder, #anxiety, or other areas of special needs this may be a primary issue for you. Don’t be afraid to ask, “how will you modify your teaching methods and pace to accomodate for my child’s unique learning needs?” “Are there supports in the school to facilitate my child’s potential to succeed at school?” These may include a special education teacher, a child psychologist or counselor, a parent tutor, a peer to peer mentoring program, access to occupational therapy, a reading specialist, psycho-educational testing, etc. If your school or school district does not offer in house services ask your principal for referrals to community service providers. I am sad to say that if you do not ask these questions your child might not access supportive services. (As a former special education teacher this is a pain point for me). I have observed this too frequently with recent immigrant families who might not yet know the richness of supports in our Canadian education system.
Home School Connection
Parent involvement is a growing priority in many of our school boards. This is a good trend in education. Hosting parent-teacher meetings is only one of several ways to support the valuable home-school connection and parent-teacher partnerships. I hope this post will help you feel more equipped and confident to engage in your child’s school.
Related Resources for Families
At Help for Families Canada we provide counselling for kids who are struggling in school – whether it is academically or socially or both. I am well equipped to support children who have a #learningdisability, #ADHD, or other special needs. We also work collaborately with classroom teachers and child-care services so that we are all on the same plan.
Look at our Child & Adolescent Counselling Services to find out more.