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Adjusting to the school year: Academic bumps

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Checking in on the classroom

After the first few weeks of the school year, you likely have a sense of how the classroom is going for your child. It may be off to a great start, and it may be a little rocky. And if it's the latter, it may be better to act quickly rather than letting the rocks get rockier.

Parent conference

Addressing classroom issues, however, is a challenging thing. You, after all, are not in the classroom all day and you don't know exactly what is happening. In addition, the parent-tecaher partnership is a fine line to walk, and a poorly managed relationship could have real stress fallout on your child.

Talk with your child

First things first, talk with your child. Ask your child, in age appropriate language of course, what he or she thinks is going on. What feels hard and why? What feels confusing? what feels easy? You may be able to adjust some things at home as a first step to making an adjustment to your child's academic year. If your child is reporting confusion and headaches, the solution may be as simple as an eye exam.

If the solution isn't as simple, however, it may be time to talk to the teacher one-on-one.

Ask for a conference

If you suspect problems this early on, whether it's an emotional or academic issue specific to your child, a interpersonal dynamic with another child, or even a concern about the teacher, ask for a conference with your child's teacher - even if it's not officially parent-teacher conference time yet.

Look for a time when neither you or the teacher will be rushed and you can constructively and respectfully state your concerns for the child's adjustment to the school year. Be sure to listen as well as talk, and always remember that you are looking to build a home-school partnership.

After a meeting, if you and the teacher have agreed on a course of action, give that course of action appropriate time to take hold! A social issue may not be solved with just one day of separation from a certain other child, and it may take more than one afterschool help session to get math back on track.

Talk to administrators and experts

If, after this initial effort, the issues still seem to be there, it may be time to talk to administrators and/or experts to brainstorm other solutions for your child's experience. Although you may have an idea of what you might like to have happen, keep an open mind - there are some great ideas out there! While you are the expert on your specific child, the "experts" may have some astute insight they can share. They may not have all the answers, but their goal is your goal: the success of your child. Keep in mind also that being involved and partnered with your child's school is a long-term relationship and you want this to be a partnerhsip building exercise for all of you.

It may not be what you planned when the school bell rang this fall, but acting on and addressing adjustment issues early on may head off other issues later. Work that home-school partnership for the benefit of your child!

More about teacher-parent relationships:

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