By: Kelly Herman
When it comes to your child’s success in school, a progress report isn’t the only feedback you should count on. Midway through the school year is a good time to talk to your child’s teacher – by this time, they’ve had a few months to observe your child’s behavior and to see how well they’re absorbing subject matter. Besides the usual “They’re not causing any trouble, are they?” there are a few key questions to be sure to include.
“After giving directions, does my child get straight to work?”
Not jumping into an assignment may mean a few things. Your child may have trouble processing information, focusing, or may even be defiant. If they tend to stall, ask the teacher if other kids have the same problem. It may just be that the teacher is not adept at managing their classroom, or other children could be the distraction. A good solution is to start making efforts to enforce a “job well done” on chores at home. You’ll get to see whether or not they begin their tasks right away, why they didn’t, and learn what motivated them to get the work done.
“How would you describe my child’s personality?”
Ideally, the teacher’s description will match your own, but that’s not always the case – children act differently in different situations, especially when they’re around their peers. By discussing your child’s behavioral variations, you and your child’s teacher can better understand their performance in school.
“Does my child take pride in the quality of their work?”
You may be getting the report card back and wondering how all that work you see at the dining room table translates into unsatisfactory grades. The answer may be that the child is not driven to do their best, but only to do the bare minimum. Ask if the teacher reviews submitted assignments with the student, and request that they start if they don’t already. By holding the child accountable for good work, it may clarify problem solving issues.
“Does my child like school?”
Part of the school experience is enjoying the learning process and being motivated. If a child doesn’t seem to enjoy school, both parent and teacher can move from there to figure out new techniques for igniting their schooling spark. Implementing a learning-as-a-game system from home can work wonders, but you wouldn’t know motivation was an issue unless you asked.
“Does my child have trouble finding partners for group projects?”
This is a great question at all levels of schooling. As kids mature, they change their attitude towards people. This could lead to bullying, whether they are the victim or the assailant, and it could show in how other kids treat them. If their teacher says they’re not being included, ask what trait they think is causing it. They may just be shy, goofing off, bossy or stubborn. Both of you can then work to correct those behaviors.
A huge part of schooling is continuing instruction at home, subtly. If you ask the right questions early on, then each year you and your child’s teacher will be better equipped to solve problems that arise. Together, you can encourage your child to develop strong learning habits and stay focused on school.