Monday, March 10, 2014


Parent Teacher Conferences 101

     March is more than the beginning of Spring, March is Reading Month and daylight savings time.  March for most schools means Parent Teacher Conferences.  Now I know what you are thinking, "I just had a conference in November, I don't need another conference."  For some that may be true, but a lot can change from November to March with your students goals for the current school year.  If your kids are like mine, finding out reading levels and how school is going can them a little tongue tied!  I am going to give you some ideas of things to discuss with your child's teacher(s) that will have you wanting a conference!

  1. What was my child's starting reading level for the year?  What is it now?  Is there anything we need to be working on to help his/her reading to continue to improve?  Can you recommend a list of books that are level appropriate for my child(ren)?  Will you be sending something home at the end of the year regarding current reading level to help plan with summer reading?  Any websites you can recommend to help with reading or comprehension? Writing is such a chore for my student, are their any ideas on how to make it less painful? 
  2. My child(ren) is(are) having issues with the math, is there a good website that you can recommend that will help?  Do you offer any after school assistance for struggling students? My child(ren) can get the answer, but not using the method you are teaching, is that ok? A lot of this "new math" are things I have never seen before, do you have any advice for me the parent on how to help my child(ren)?
  3. How is my student doing socially? Is he/she participating in class?
  4. Are there any other areas that my child(ren) needs help in? 
  5. The night before a test my child(ren) is really anxious, they are afraid they are going to forget everything, are there any suggestions you can give me to help my child(ren)? Nothing I try works.  
  6. My child(ren) has an IEP, what specialized services are they receiving in your classroom?  
Here are some great websites with more questions:

Don't be afraid to ask questions and take notes! Trust me when I say that you will not remember everything the teacher says.  Especially when the talk of weaknesses comes up. Some of the items you hear you may want to think "Not MY child! What is she talking about? He/She doesn't do that at home!"  Write it down anyway! Take it home and look at it fresh the day after the conference, you may have a different opinion of what you heard, and it may help you really focus on what your child(dren)'s weaknesses are and help him/her turn those weaknesses into positives.  Either way, go into the conference with an open mind listening to everything.  Do go into the conference with the thought of I'll show that teacher, he/she has been picking on my child(ren), they are perfect in every way!  We all want our children to believe that our child(ren) is/are perfect, but the sooner we learn that no one is perfect, the better we will be equipped to help our child(ren) have the best education possible. Isn't that what we all want for our children?  To have the best possible education so they can grow up to be happy and successful in whatever they do?  Well, one way to help with that is to go to a parent teacher conference and advocate for your child(ren)'s education.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Digital Footprint

At the beginning of every school year, students and parents are given a form outlining the rules of using school computers.  Reminders of what you can and can not do on school computers is talked about a lot during the school year, but there are still a lot of kids who forget that they have a "digital footprint" and that footprint is easy to find.  

In this day and age of everything being done online, the concept of not telling the world your business, is lost on many.  I have lost count of how many times I have been on Facebook and a "selfie" was posted and thought to myself "what are they thinking posting that online??" Now I understand free speech and expressing yourself, but ask yourself this, what are you REALLY trying to say by posting a picture of yourself just about totally naked.  Unless you are posting for PETA, there isn't a reason other than "LOOK AT ME!!!" Young adults don't fully grasp the idea that what you post online will STAY online FOREVER! I have heard kids say "but I deleted it so it is gone!" To that I say, not really gone!  In the short time you post something on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ALL your friends can see it and more importantly, SHARE IT!  You may have a change of heart and delete your post, but your friends can share the photo and their friends can share it, and it goes on and on until the whole school sees the picture.  Colleges and companies are now searching the internet to see what their applicants are posting online before deciding to accept/interview them.  

Parents:  Each year when the school form comes home, please remind you kids how important it is to be a good digital citizen. Throughout the year, our schools hold assemblies to talk about the pitfalls of doing these things, but I honestly think some kids just don't get it. Yes they have their whole life ahead of them, but the world is not as forgiving for mistakes. Don't let your kids become the next Anthony Weiner, or Geraldo Rivera.  Learn the different language that your kids are using when they are texting or on Facebook.  Do you know what idk means?  Go to this webiste to find a long list of codes that kids are using to try and keep their parents unaware of what they are doing online.

Don't think that your child won't do it, they can and most of them will try to do it. Talk with your kid(s) and make sure they are being good digital citizens.  Let that be what stays with them as they grow, not that there is a picture out there for the world to see.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to School Time!

Back to school can mean a lot of things to kids. To some it means anxiety, to others excitement, seeing friends and of course NEW CLOTHES!!! So how do you help those kids who have the anxiety of going back to school? 

First, is the source of anxiety known? It could be the thought of having to get up early each morning, the fear of taking tests, not knowing anyone if their class, or the list goes on. Try talking with your child(ren) to see what the anxiety is.  Here are some tips to help your child(ren) deal with anxiety:

1.  Fear of getting up early again:  This can be helped by starting to get your child(ren) back into their school routine early.  I suggest about 3 weeks to a month from school, start moving your child's(ren's) bedtime back by 1/2 hour.  So if you child during the summer goes to bed at 10 pm, move it back the first week to 9:30 pm, then the next week 9:00 pm until you are back to your school routine.  It will help make that first week of school easier on everyone!

2.  Fear of taking tests:  That one can be tricky, as some kids just can't get over the fear of not doing well on a test.  I would suggest finding some type of calming routine that your child can do during a test or in preparation for a test.  Breathing exercises, how to do a process of elimination for multiple choice, etc.  Customize for your child.

3.  Fear of not knowing anyone in class:  Every year around the time letters are sent and received holding the precious classroom placement, parents and kids wonder if they will know anyone in their class.  Now with the invention of Facebook, parents are now posting who their child got as their teacher.  Pretty soon, your child will probably know 4-5 kids in their class!  Read the posts together to see who everyone has!  If after reading all the posts your child still doesn't know anyone, talk to other parents to see if they know anyone in the class, they may be able to arrange a play date with the 3 children.

Remind your kids what it felt like when you went to school the first day.  Let them know it is ok to be a little scared but that there are going to be many people at the school to help if there is a problem.  It is also a way to get to know new kids and make new friends!  

Not sure what to do now that your kids are in school?  Why not volunteer either in your child's classroom or in the school.  The PTO is always looking for help with billboards, cutting and counting Box Tops, photo copying, etc.  It is a great way to stay connected to your child's school and studies show that the more involved a parent is in their child's school, the better the child does in school.