Friday, May 29, 2009

As the School Year Ends

In my last post, I gave some tips on setting things up so that kids have a fun and social summer. On the flip side of that planning, I think it’s important to think a bit about academics, such as what worked and didn’t work this school year.
Has it been a great year? I hope so. Now is a good time to analyze that success. Was the teacher a great fit? It might make sense to schedule an end of year meeting and get that teacher’s tips for what might work next year. Lot’s of structure, frequent breaks, short term rewards, a buddy system? You child’s teacher has probably put a great deal of time and effort into fine tuning a classroom and homework situation that has been effective. Now is a good time to see what can carry over to the next year. If possible, the teacher could even meet with next year’s teacher to pass on some of these tips.
Has it been a bad year? Thankfully, it’s almost over. Before you breathe a big sign of relief, it will probably pay to consider what the problems were. Compare this bad year to one that worked out better. Was there a big difference in teacher personality, the tone of the classroom, the way homework or discipline was handled?
Remember, you are the expert on dealing with your child. You’ll need to share your expertise with teachers, the principal, and all the specialists who will be working with your child. It’s best if you can be precise, detailed and concrete in discussing how to manage your child’s education. Saying something vague, like, “Ms. Jones was really nice, my son liked her a lot better than Ms. Smith.” will not be very helpful. But, if you put a bit of effort in now, you’ll be able to come up with a very clear statement, like, “My son does best in a structured and quiet classroom, like he had in third grade. In fourth grade, the room was much busier and louder; he reacted badly to that  much stimulation. He also responded very enthusiastically to his first grade teacher’s visual behavior plan.”
See what details you can figure out for your child.