The front door closes and the kids start to go about their afternoon rituals. Snacks, talking to friends, homework and maybe an evening activity.
But have you taken the time to see how their day was? Not just “How was your day?”
There are many different ways to find out more about school and learn more about your child at the same time.
Ask questions that are open ended. Anytime you ask a yes or no question you have to be prepared to get only one word back.
Try one of these questions afterschool today:
- What is the new song that you are learning in choir/band right now? Which part is your favorite of the song?
- What was the best thing that happened at school today?
- Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
- What would you pick for school lunch if you could have anything you wanted?
- Are there any changes that you would want to make at your school?
- Who is your favorite teacher and what do you like about them?
- If you could be Principal for the day what is the first thing that you would do?
- Which rule was hardest to follow today?
- If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you choose? Why?
- On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your day? Why?
One of our jobs as parents is to raise independent, productive members of society.
When they are small they are totally dependent on you. As they get older, slowly, that dependency decreases. Does that mean our job is over?
Another part of parenting is making sure our children have an appropriate education and attending Parent-Teacher conferences is a great way to make sure that is happening.
Parent-Teacher conferences can be such a joy to attend when kids are young.
You walk in to the welcoming classroom adorned by bright and creative artwork. You are approached by the teacher who comes with a smile on their face and an outstretched hand. They show you a folder of your child’s accomplishments and you leave with a feeling of pride. Even if they say your child moves around too much or talks too much, they can still find positive things to say.
Fast forward to the secondary years. You move from teacher to teacher in a crowded gymnasium (or hallway) to see how your child is doing. Are they missing assignments, can they handle the course load? You leave feeling overwhelmed but optimistic that things will improve now that you have been given the tools needed for your child to succeed.
Many parents decide that conferences are not as important once kids reach the secondary years. However, what that student needs to see is that they have a support system. They need to see that they have parents and teachers who care about their education.
As they get older they may not want to attend conferences with you. So why should you bring the sullen grumpy teen that would rather be with their friends or watching Netflix?
- It’s so valuable to see how your child speaks to an adult on their own behalf.
- A teacher gains a different perspective by watching the parent / student dynamic.
But most of all…
You are empowering them by standing by their side and letting them lead the conversation. You are creating an advocate in your child by letting them make decisions in their education.
Thank you for being an involved parent and making the extra time to attend conferences with you child. They may not thank you today but it will leave a lasting impact on them.
We all think that our kids are fabulous. We know them better than anyone else. I, like many other mama bears, will go to great lengths to defend my cub.
Until I walked into high school conferences.
It’s time for the cub to defend himself. However, the vocabulary of the sullen teenage cub is not very developed. When the teacher let the cub know how he was doing (which he already knew was not good) and what he needed to do to remedy the situation he had few words.
At home the cub is rarely quiet. Telling me sometimes more than I want to know.
At school, face to face with teacher and parent, it’s not quite so simple.
So we sit and wait for the cub to answer the questions. The Mama Bear in me is fighting to get out. She wants to push him to answer the questions and make the Cub study and turn in his work. She wants him to know that it’s not about the work being turned in, it’s about not giving up on himself. For high school is not just about academics but about life and we all want the cub to succeed in life.
But the sullen cub remains.
And the Mama Bear will remain by his side trying to teach him the skills to advocate for himself.
Because the Cub is indeed fabulous. He will not always be the sullen cub he is now.
I am usually not one to complain about the cold because I have chosen to stay in Minnesota. I love that, unlike many other areas of the US, we have all four seasons of the year.
However, this winter has not been fun. Most days its too cold to be outside. We also have more snow than I can remember having since I was a little kid.
The schools have closed 5 times since New Years. The first couple of days meant the kids a little extra time to enjoy Christmas gifts. I am still finding those Rainbow Loom bands everywhere!
The next three days off I was tired. The kids actually wanted to get back to school because they had teachers emailing assignments home and would rather get their assignments at school.
I saw many Facebook posts from friends who had their kids at the movies, bowling, trampoline parks, etc. That’s just not in our budget.
My kids spent their days playing Minecraft…. I’m pretty sure I would be able to make some sort of educational connection if I tried but I’ve decided that I’m human and I admit that, at times, my kids get more screen time than the experts recommend. When they are not on the screens they ask inquisitive questions and we have great conversations. Our family dinners are never dull as you never know where the conversation is going to go.
So guilt. Nope. Don’t have any.
The experts will keep making their recommendations but I have to go with what is realistic with my kids and our family. Yes – I may tuck those recommendations somewhere in my brain- but when it comes down to it I’m going to go with my gut.
So, it’s a balance I guess.
As a parent of a child with learning disabilities this video touches a place deep down in me. Not all kids learn the same and its just fabulous to see a teacher think out of the box to help a student learn.
My daughter didn’t learn to read until she was in 5th grade. Last week I celebrated with her as she finished a book that she had been reading for the past five months. She had one page left and it took her an hour to read it. Then, the celebration began.
At dinner with friends the next night, I was telling friends about our celebration and I watched their faces sink. The pity they felt for her showed on their faces.
I was quick to let them know that we celebrate the accomplishments…. no matter how small. She does not want pity. She is proud of herself and we are so proud of her.
We all learn differently. Some take longer to learn and some just need some music in the background to get the words out.
In the past few days I have gone to conferences for 2/3 of my kids. Previously I had thought that it wasn’t as important to go to conferences after they leave Elementary school. But I’ve since changed my stance.
As a rookie high school parent I don’t know much about what goes on in the high school. My only experience is as a high schooler myself which I have a hard time believing was so many years ago.
Does a high schooler still attend conferences?
Mine…. YES! I want to see how the teacher and my child interact.
How do I know the questions to ask now that we have made the leap to high school?
I ask friends and co-workers who have been there.
My oldest child has been struggling in one of his classes. I went to that teacher first. We all decided that the class was not the class my son should be in and that we needed to see the counselor to get him out of there.
3 days later my child has been moved out of the class without incurring a penalty (they call it a penalty I call it an F) and hopefully its smooth sailing from here.
To this I say:
Be present, ask the questions. You are not the first parents in your situation. Trust your instincts.
Now on to the next conferences!
To blog or not to blog that was the question.
The answer “Why Not!”
So here I am and I hope that you will be able to get some good info from my blog as well as a few smiles. Life can be crazy and I know it. Balancing home and work. Dealing with the kids, school, sports and all of the obligations that pull us in every way can be such a challenge.
I hope to give you information that you can use in supporting your kids at school, as well as home, while sharing some of my life’s quirky day to day goings on.
Sit back, but don’t forget to check that backpack…. you never know what you’ll miss.