Going back to school can be full of excitement, hope, anticipation, and anxiety, even fear. Along with the hope that this year will be the year that all of the pieces will fit into place and your child will finally get the teacher that understands them, is the fear that this year will just be a repeat of the struggle and frustration of all the previous years.
Does it have to be that way?
Are there steps that a parent or advocate can take to establish a good learning environment for the child?
In this post I will give some helpful tips for going into the new school year with some strategies for creating a positive environment for your child's learning and building good relationships with the teacher and other school personnel that will be involved with your child.
- Attend any orientation or parent open house. Offer to volunteer in the classroom or provide some classroom supplies (facial tissue, glue sticks, etc..)
- Ask for a parent conference (not a team meeting), to meet with the teacher. Talk about your child's strengths, interests, and learning style. Give the teacher insight into what works well with your child with their learning, focus, behavior, organization, etc. Let the teacher know that you want to work together throughout the school year for the benefit of your child.
- Establish a communication system between you and the teacher to keep up to date on what's happening in the classroom and at home. Good open communication can prevent small issues from becoming large problems. It's important for your child when you establish a good rapport with the teacher.
- Be proactive. If you start to see a behavior (like not wanting to go to school) let the teacher know so he/she can be aware of any issues that may be happening with the student. This could be a situation where the student is either struggling with academics or maybe other students. Kids usually act out to indicate when something is wrong.
When I'm advocating for my son, I meet with the teacher at the beginning of the school year to establish a relationship and provide information, at the middle of the year (sometime around January) to see how things are going and reinforce the relationship, and then again a few weeks before the end of the school year to see what worked, where my son is academically, and to plan for next year. These are not team meetings, just me and the teacher getting together for 20-30 minutes.
I find that this schedule keeps things running smoothly and in a positive way. I don't go in with the attitude of blaming or pointing fingers, I go with the attitude of 'I'm here to help and work together for my son'. My experience is that this is a good way to keep on top of what's happening and address concerns before they become major issues. Of course, if I have a concern, I can always reconvene the team and address them more formally. I can also relay the information that I've gathered at my son's annual review or three year re-eval meeting.
Please share this post with anyone that you think might benefit from these tips. Add any suggestions or helpful tips that you use by commenting below.
Next blog post "Establishing good homework systems"