Woody Allen once quipped that "eighty percent of success is showing up." This is especially true of the annual back-to-school nights that schools all over the country are having right now. In this article, I'm encouraging you to attend your child's event and take good notes. If you are not aware of the expectations at school, how can you support them at home? If your child learns differently or struggles with organization and executive functioning, you should also be listening to another part of the message. Teachers will communicate the level of independence they expect from their students as well as the level of support they will extend to them. All of this information is key for parents, tutors, and others who will be supporting your child academically.
WHAT TO WRITE DOWN
Be prepared by having a pen, notebook, and folder for each classes' handouts and your notes. It is difficult to take in all of the information six different teachers have and remember how it will impact your child.
Take note of the following information:
- The name of the teacher(s) and the classroom location. You don't want to be late for a meeting because you couldn't find the room.
- How to best contact the teacher with the actual contact information in your notes.
- The teacher's role in your child's life, e.g., advisor, math teacher, volleyball coach, etc.
- Procedures for homework: how it is assigned, policies for tardy and makeup work, and how to get help if your child doesn't understand the assignment.
- The level of tutoring support the teacher feels is productive.
- Procedures for tests and quizzes: when and how they are announced, what students can bring in terms of notes, calculator, etc. Ways to improve the test grade, if available.
- What the term and final grades are based on, preferably in percentages.
- Needed supplies and other expectations that are particular to that teacher.
REMEMBER THOSE GOALS
Following this event, plan on meeting with each of your child’s teachers to discuss accommodations and anything the teacher needs to know about your child. Knowing their expectations and making them aware of where your child is still developing is incredibly helpful to teachers.
Make the teacher aware of your child's goals for the year. Your child may have struggled to turn homework in during the previous year. Let the teacher know what you are doing at home to address the concern and what you think are appropriate goals. The teacher will appreciate this information and be more supportive and understanding of your child.
Keep the back-to-school night folder and notes in a location near where your child completes homework and studies. Tutors, your child, and you will need easy access to the teachers' expectations as the year goes by.
Here's to a successful year!
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