Education Questions Answered for You
Here are some of the most common questions that are asked not only here at A Note from the Teacher, but in schools all over the country.
Should my child be retained?
Retention in one grade is a subject that has been the focus of much debate, and there is data that supports both sides of the argument. However, when considering retention, or "staying back", in a grade, it is always important to consider each case individually.
The first question that should be answered is why the child has not met expectations in the current grade level. The possibility of learning disabilities, extended periods of absence or illness, or personal crisis must be considered. Second, depending on the circumstances, one must ask whether another year at the same grade level would further the child's skills more than it would hurt their self-esteem. In some cases, there are different teaching methods or classrooms where children could work lessons in new ways; these may benefit a child who remains in the same grade. But, if there is little that can be done differently, or if a great deal of assistance has already been made available, retention may not be greatly beneficial.
Regardless of the perceived cause, the decision to retain a student should be made as a team, with parents, teachers, and administration all having a role. Be sure to have an open dialogue with your child's school so that everyone's opinions and concerns are heard.
How do I keep up my child's learning during the summer?
Everyone looks forward to the excitement of the summer, including children. But it is often too easy for kids to forget the information they learned in the past 10 months, making the transition back to school more difficult in September. To minimize the loss of skills, consider doing some light work at home one or two days a week to keep skills fresh. There are lots of sources for review material, from mass-market skill review books to the Internet. Also, consider asking your child's teacher for a packet of work they can bring home to work with over the summer. Regardless of the source of the information, the most important part of summer review is having a parent or older sibling available to help when things get tough and to check progress. As always, reading should also be an important part of summer vacation; try to choose books that are appropriate for your child's age and interest so they enjoy the reading process more.
How do I avoid too much TV for my kids in the summer?
Television (including video games, the Internet, and DVDs) are nearly addictive to children who are set on making the most of their time away from school! There are ways, however, to combat "The Box" during the vacation. First, before the summer vacation, make a list of activities your child is looking forward to. Be sure to include outdoor activities as well as creative exercises like arts and crafts projects. That way, when the inevitable "I'm bored!" cries out you and your child can look at your list and easily find something else to do besides watch TV. Other good options for avoiding the television include weekly camp or sports programs, school-based programs, gardening, and volunteer work. If all else fails, consider having a scheduled TV time for the household, thereby eliminating arguments about exactly when the TV can be on.
How can I afford all of the necessary back to school supplies?
The list is so long!
Many schools are now facing budget deficits that are larger than ever. Due to this shortage, much of the burden of providing school supplies for children has been placed on parents and families. Even though the list may be long, you are fortunate if your school provides the list in the summer, instead of waiting until the fall. During the summer, many businesses run special late-summer deals on necessary items like paper, folders, glue, crayons, and writing materials; even though the school year seems far away, consider buying items at reduced prices and storing the for later use. Also, when purchasing items like binders and pencils remember that a high price tag and fancy sparkles rarely mean better performance in the classroom. You're better to buy more less-expensive items so that you can keep some supplies in reserve for later in the year, as supplies run out. Be sure to speak with your kids before heading to the store, so they know their budget and boundaries when checking out new supplies. Knowing what they can get before going in is sure to help eliminate disagreements in the paper aisle!
Thanks to all of our regular readers who enjoy the column. We encourage your questions and are happy to respond when using the e-mail link at the bottom of the page! Please be sure to put "family teacher question" in the subject box!
Again, thanks to all and have a happy and fun-tastic summer!