It's that time of the year, when report cards are coming home! This is the time when you and your child are able to see the overall picture of how they are doing in school.
Once you review the report card, you may have a number of different responses:
- You may be very pleased with what you see and it may confirm how you feel your child is doing overall. If so, that's wonderful!
- You may have some concerns that you feel need to be addressed but these concerns do not appear on the report card, either because they are not things that are graded or you see more issues at home than the teacher does at school.
- You may be surprised by the report card and uncertain about how the concerns or grades came to be, and you need to learn more about it.
- You may have concerns about how your child is doing at school, and your child's teacher does as well.
Personally, I've had all these responses, so I speak from experience! And what I want you to see is that the report card is just the starting point that allows teachers and parents to really communicate what they are observing. It is a document about what is observed at school and the overall view of how your child is doing (with the tasks they are given in the classroom setting).
Now if you are pleased with the results and everything is going well, your time with the teacher will be a time to connect and take a look at your child's work (while taking notes on what they will be working on next, as you always need to be informed about what skills are coming next).
If you are experiencing the other responses, let's take a look at what you can do now and after the interview!
1. First of all, realize that most teacher interviews are limited in the amount of time they can offer you. This time is set aside to review the report card and their findings. Prepare what you would like to focus on (select one or two concerns) during this time but be prepared to set up another time to meet with the teacher to review a plan with them or to discuss your concerns further.
The clearer you are about what your concerns are and what will help your child--based on what you see at home--the better the outcome of any meeting. But remember the meeting is just the start!
If you are not clear about what your concerns are, the interview is a time to gather information--bring a pen and paper so you can write it down.
When you get home, you can then work with or observe your child based on the concerns identified. Write down what you see and this will help you with step #2.
2. Let the teacher know you would like to set up another time to meet with them so you can talk more about the concerns and make a clear plan of what can happen to help your child. This plan may be what you can do to help at home and what the teacher can offer you, so your child will be more successful in the classroom. It may also be what changes will happen in the classroom to help your child get their work done successfully.
Meeting with teachers during another scheduled time offers more time to discuss issues, make a plan ...and lets them know you are very involved and dedicated to helping your child. Meeting face-to-face is the best way to really 'get clear' and start forming a 'working relationship' with your child's teacher--so the plan is based on working together to help your child. Try to start the meeting by reviewing what you have observed and what is working at home--this communicates your knowledge and confidence in helping your child. The teacher can then offer suggestions and their observations, so you can start to make a plan together.
3. Consider different ways to communicate with the teacher, after you have met with them and come up with a plan. You may use an app or email to follow up on details to ensure things keep heading in the right direction and your child is feeling successful--or to make adjustments when the plan just isn't working!
You may decide to meet face-to-face once a month and continue to communicate by email on a weekly or daily basis (depending on the needs of your child). You may need to meet weekly for a brief face-to-face meeting to chat and gather your child's activities for the week.
Now you may still be thinking, "I don't know what to say or ask the teacher! All I know is something needs to change and my child needs more support." Or you may feel like you are too vague and you can't put your finger on the issue. Or you may be uncertain about reviewing concerns that are not mentioned in the report card. Or you might feel like you really don't know what your child needs to be doing at school or what the options are to help them.
You can ask:
- To see what your child is doing and what they will be working on in the next few weeks.
- How the concerns you have at home might impact your child at school.
- How you can support your child at home so they will feel supported at school.
You can ask...you can listen...you can write information down...and you can decide what the next step will be!
I believe as parents, we are always figuring out the NEXT STEP and I want to empower YOU! So, START with these 3 STEPS to help you communicate with your child's teacher, and spend some time really watching your child and WRITING DOWN everything that you see.
Once you have done this, you may find you need some additional guidance and support--seek out a parent working on similar goals, or a 'professional' that will direct you and your child (on what to work on and what to leave for now!)
Remember, you can do this! A parent's support and guidance is key for their child's success!