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Back-To-School Nights & Parent-Teacher Conferences: start your child’s school year off right!

When September comes, children go back to school and parents begin the job of managing homework, activities, and school life.  I have compiled some tips to help parents prepare for their first parent-teacher conference and/or back-to-school night.

To make the school year a successful one for you and your child, I offer you the following tips:

  • When meeting with teachers, ask if you can assist in the class in any way.  If you have a special gift or talent, let the teacher know and offer to share it with the class.  This helps you stand out in the teacher’s mind, but also lets him/her know that you are a partner in your child’s education.
  • Be sure to check your child’s backpack every day and sign all materials and information.  You want to start the school year organized and on top of your child’s paper flow from schools.
  • Volunteer at the school if you can.  When you volunteer, you get to see your child in action.  It gives you a better understanding of what you may need to support, supplement, or correct at home.  Also, kids love seeing their parents at school.  If you have a schedule that does not permit you to volunteer during the school day, that is OK. Look for things after school hours, such as bake sales, fundraising, and school dances.
  • When you meet with the teacher, look around the classroom.  Look at your child’s work, if it is hung around the classroom.  Look at your child’s areas of strengths and areas that need improvement.  Be creative; think of ways you can support, supplement, or strengthen your child’s academic performance at home.
  • Of course, you will ask the teacher about academic goals and issues, but do not forget about social issues. Ask the teacher who your child plays with, talks with, and eats lunch with.  This will give you information to jumpstart conversations with your child, rather than the usual “How was school?”.  You can ask questions such as “So, what happened in music today?”, “Did Johnnie do anything silly today?”, “Who made you laugh today?”, “Who did you play with on the playground?” and “What did you play?”.
  • When talking to your child, be sure to hit these three main areas: lunch, recess, and bus/drop-off time.  These are the places where behavior issues and social issues occur.  By routinely talking about social issues when there are no problems, it makes it easier to discuss and guide your child if/when problems occur.
  • Know your child’s learning style.  Do you think your child learns best by seeing, hearing, or experiencing the lesson?  While most good teachers try to teach lessons in several different modalities, there is only so much time in the day.  So one way for you to assist at home is to make sure that you are supplementing the lesson, at home, in your child’s primary learning style.

For suggestions on ways to supplement your child’s curriculum, try these websites:

  • Time4learning.com  this website follows a curriculum for each grade and allows children to go at their own pace.  This is a site designed for homeschooling, but can be used to augment the curriculum or help kids with a topic that is difficult for them to understand or they did not understand during the school day.  The lessons are fun and taught in a multimodal way.  All lessons are done on the computer.  Kids generally enjoy learning this way.  There is a small monthly fee, but it is well worth it.  They also offer free trials.
  • Prufrock.com  This website gives advice and sells books to supplement and enrich learning for gifted children or children with high to superior cognitive capabilities.

By following these tips, your child will be more prepared as he/she goes into school each day. A child’s education is very important and parental involvement plays a crucial role as well.

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