Get to know your child's learning environment to increase academic success
Weren't we just in the midst of summer catching fireflies past our bedtime and swimming 'til our hair turned green? While back-to-school night usually helps you answer any questions you may have about the upcoming school year, use this list to help you gain the most pertinent information on that important night.
Get to Know the Teacher
1. What is the daily routine? What days do the specials (library, music, art, P.E., computer) occur?
2. How do parents know what the students are learning about? (Common forms of this include a weekly newsletter or e-mail)
3. What is the teacher's discipline policy?
4. What is the teacher's reward policy for individual behavior? Group behavior? (For example, some teachers have pebble jars where the class can earn a collective reward based on collecting pebbles for good behavior.)
5. How does the teacher communicate behavior/work efforts with parents? (This could be a daily individual chart that is stamped and brought home in a folder every day.)
6. What is the best way to contact the teacher?
7. How much homework should you expect your student to receive?
Get to Know the School
1. What are some ways for parents to be involved in school activities? The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is one of the best ways to be involved in the school.
2. What are the policies in place for school security?
3. Does the school have an open lunchroom policy where you can eat lunch with your child?
4. What events (i.e carnivals, bingo nights) does the school sponsor that are geared toward families?
Share Info About Your Student
(I suggest writing these down and physically giving the teacher your input.)
1. Share the strengths (loves to read) and weaknesses (impulsive) of your child.
2. Share how your student best learns. (i.e. loves hands-on projects or loves to write)
3. Tell the teacher what interests your child. (When my son was in preschool, he would cling to my leg virtually every day for the first few weeks...okay, months. Knowing that he loved Matchbox cars, his teacher began setting up a car city that he could play with when he walked in in the morning, easing his transition time.)
4. Let the teacher know any medical information about your child.
Share Info About You
(I would include this information along with your student's information above.)
1. Let the teacher know the best way to contact you. (While you may feel like you have filled out a dozen forms for emergencies, etc., conveying one method of communication is better than a teacher trying to track you down via a landline that you never use.)
2. Let the teacher know if you are willing to volunteer. This could be in the classroom or at home—there is a lot of prep work that goes into getting projects and bulletin boards ready and the teacher might appreciate your willingness to help cut or sort items at home.
3. Share any relevant information about your family life that might have an effect on your student's school performance. Let teachers know about current or upcoming deployments and changes in family dynamics.
Kerry Pinto is a former educator and administrator taking a break from teaching while her kiddos are little. She lives in Stafford.