7 Questions you need to ask your child's teacher before the school year ends
The final weeks of the school year are both exciting and hectic. There are classroom parties to bake for, report cards to collect and summer camps to register for. But before you leave the 2014-2015 school year behind, be sure to ask your child's teacher these seven questions. Why? They can help you reflect on your student's academic growth thus far, as well as the educational path ahead.
1. "How do you feel the year went?"
This question is ideal for painting a broad picture of the school year, especially those aspects of the year that may have influenced your child's individual progress. Perhaps half a dozen snow days complicated class-wide understanding of the times tables. Or perhaps all the students excelled in social studies, which allowed for an additional hands-on project.
2. "What were my child's academic and socio-emotional strengths?"
Where did your student excel this year, both in terms of class content and her relationships with others? Was she consistently strong in math, or did she make tremendous gains in science in the fourth quarter? Were her active listening and collaboration skills appropriate given her age? Note these strengths so you can continue to encourage them in your child.
3. "Where is there room for academic and socio-emotional growth?"
Just as every student has strengths, every student has weaknesses. Self-improvement is a continuous process, so be sure to ask your child's teacher where she has room for growth. Is she still developing confidence when reading and speaking aloud? Or does her attention wander from time to time? Does she struggle in art or music?
4. "What skills should we practice this summer?"
Summer vacation may be less structured than the school year, but it is still an opportune time for academic pursuits. (In fact, practicing school skills is critical if you hope to avoid summer brain drain.) To make the best possible use of your time, determine which areas to work on with your student. The answer might be as general as "writing" or as narrow as "following test directions."
5. "How can we best learn or hone these skills?"
Teachers are a wonderful source of academic strategies and techniques, and many have painstakingly honed their craft over numerous years. Even better, your child's teacher has had an entire year to learn your student's academic tendencies. Why not ask him or her for instructional suggestions and resources that you can employ during the summer months?
6. "How can I help my child succeed next year?"
The next school year is admittedly months away, but this proactive question can help you and your child start it on the right foot. For instance, should you discuss time management with your student to ensure she is prepared for next year's increased workload? Should you speak to a tutor or the school reading specialist?
7. "How can I better support next year's teacher?"
There are three participants in a successful education: the student, the parent and the teacher. Both your child and her teacher depend on your support. For your student's teacher, that support could be assistance on field trips or consistent reinforcement of the homework policy. Before you begin your summer vacation, see how you can be more involved in your child's education come fall.
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