Your Child’s Advocate

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Stationary from the Bonnie Marcus Collection

It is the beginning of the school year and the perfect time to latch onto your child’s excitement for school before it fades away and possible bad habits start to creep in, resurface, etc.  I’m sure you all have received some version of their students rights and responsibilities handbook that requires your signature, updated school supply lists, and countless emergency care forms.  Well, take the time to set your child up for a year of success.  It will save you some stress and alert your child that you are in their corner and plan on being involved as much as possible.  Here is a list of tips:

1.  Send an email – make it personal, introduce yourself and give a little background about your child that the teacher may not get from looking at past standardized test scores.  This will accomplish a few things.  First, your email address will now be in their system and they will be able to easily reach you throughout the day if issues arise in the classroom.  As a teacher myself, I know that it is easier to get time to respond to an email than to make a call.  Also, my emails like many other educators come directly to my phone.  Secondly, the teacher will be able to use the information within your email to better help the child in front of them.  Thirdly, the earlier this done, the quicker it is for a teacher to put a face of one of their 120 students with a name.

2.  If your child has special needs or requires accommodations in the classroom, it is necessary to set up an appointment with the guidance counselor early in the year along with core teachers to let them know what works for your kiddo and update information on any IEP’s or 504’s.  Also, you will be able to adjust to changes that may occur.  Note:  certain accommodations given in elementary are not provided in middle school.

3.  See if you can obtain an extra copy of the textbooks to keep at home.  Some schools offer online textbooks.  Attach the class syllabus ( if given) or the county’s pacing guide to each book.  This way you know what should be covered and around about when.

4.  Have a sit down with your child and agree upon a schedule for when they return home for school.  When is snack time, homework time, chore time, tv time, etc.  Also, be clear of your expectations in regards to homework.  Designate a spot for them to complete homework everyday after school.  Make sure it is free from distractions and supplies are readily available, pencil sharpener, ruler, protractor, dictionary, thesaurus, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, etc.

5.  Know that you can request a detailed progress report at anytime during the quarter.  You do not have to wait for interim and end of quarter report cards to be surprised by your child’s grades.

6.  Try as hard as you can to attend all orientations, back to school nights, and touch bases.

7.  Remember that most schools provide after school homework clubs so that students can get work done and ask questions.  This is free and may save you money on a tutor.  Also, there is a bus that usually takes the, home afterwards.  Check with your school.

8.  Preview the list of clubs and activities that your child’s school offers. Encourage them to get involved.  It will allow them to feel like part of the school and they will become even more vested in being successful there.

I hope this helps and if there are any questions, please feel free to reply to this post.  Also, another good idea would be to purchase an accordion folder to store report cards, awards, etc so that you have an archive of your child’s academic career.

* If you like the above stationary, please visit: http://beorganized.fcorgp.com/content/bonnie-marcus

Summer Learning

brain drainMy daughter will be entering the 7th grade this upcoming school year and it is my goal to make sure that she doesn’t lose what she has learned and build upon what she has retained. When kids take summer vacation and do not read or practice their skills they have a hard time retaining them. I know this because I am a teacher and the same students who sit in my classroom at the beginning of the school year cannot remember anything from the previous year except for one or two songs and maybe what they learned right near the end. This lapse of time in learning when children lose knowledge is most commonly referred to as ‘brain drain’.

Do NOT let ‘brain drain’ happen to your kid(s).

What are some steps that you can take to ensure that this doesn’t happen to your kid?

1. If you are a single mama like myself (and even if you’re not) and your child will be with family during the summer or in daycare, make sure that they know what you expect. My kids stay with their grandparents during the summer and I expect my daughter to read a certain amount of chapters a weekday from a book that either she or I have selected and be able to tell me a little about it when I speak with her. I also purchase math workbooks, reading comprehension workbooks, and writing workbooks from the teacher store or Barnes and Noble.
2. Have your kid(s) complete a couple of grade level or above grade level reading comprehension passages a week. Remember to tear out the answer keys from the backs of these books. Grade them when you have a chance or when you get home from work.
3. After you have graded their work be sure to celebrate their successes and conference with them in regards to what they have incorrect and why.
4. I understand that not everyone is a teacher like myself or has the time to grade and go over answers. In that case, why not employ a high school or college student at a bargain rate to assist you once or twice a week.
5. For very young children, read to them and ask them questions about what they heard. Also, allow them to practice their handwriting because in this day and age so many of them use technology and do not get enough practice doing so.

6. Take them to any free museums this summer or plays in the park. Look up your local community calendar or a community calendar of cities nearby. Expose them to art (graffiti can be art, too).
7. Check your child’s school website to see if they have any summer reading assignments that will be due the first week of school. Some even have science, history, and math assignments that are due the first week.
8. Try exposing them to a word a day which you can easily download an app from your phone.
9. Check the web for free resources and download content to your computer for your child to read and complete.
10. Use your public library. They always have events and free programs for kids of all ages. Some libraries even offer rewards and badges for completion of books with weekly check-ins.

As a parent it is crucial for us to take an active role in our children’s’ education. The position we take should be both proactive and purposeful. Creating an educated society and children who are equipped for life and college-ready (whether they choose to attend or not) is my personal goal as a teacher and parent. If you need other suggestions, please check the sites below:

NASA Exploration Design Challengehttp://ht.ly/lFlGe

NYC Youth Voices Summer Programhttp://www.incited.org/projects/youth-voices-summer-program-connected-learning-with-the-nyc-writing-project

Google + Maker Camphttp://makezine.com/maker-camp/

Books to read with boyshttp://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/03/67-books-for-kids/?pid=1185&viewall=true

Journaling Pageshttp://www.graceisoverrated.com/p/journal-pages.html

Lessons and Printable Worksheetshttp://www.readwritethink.org/ and http://writingfix.com/index.htm

Mathhttp://coolmath.com/

 

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