Home Communication: Conferences, Interim Reports and School.

As parents we often worry: Are we are doing the right thing? Too much? Not enough? When we approach conference day (or in my case, with a child in boarding school, Parents’ Weekend) we arrive with a mix of excitement, adrenaline, dread and wonder. How is my child doing? How does she or he measure up to others? Is she meeting her potential? Is he overwhelmed? Should I be doing something different to support her at home? Does he need me to be more involved? Less involved? What does good support for my child look like in our house? Checking his work? Just creating a quiet space for her to do her homework? For all of these questions, the real answer is it depends:

•it depends on how independent he or she is right now.
•it depends onhow thoroughly he or she is performing on homework tasks.
•it depends on how satisfied he/she is with the outcome.
•it depends on whether teachers feel she is giving her best effort.
•it just depends.
This is a week to continue the dialogue with your child’s homeroom teacher or advisor. Nothing will be decided this week; these reports and comments (and grades for older students) mark the middle of a semester, nothing more. This is a snapshot of where your child is after the first six weeks of the school year. For primary parents, this means hearing about how well your child can take direction, wait her turn or simply carry the container of milk to the lunch table. As students go up through the grades, we look at personal responsibility, the understanding of one’s role in the class dynamic, and an ability to keep materials and personal space in check. By fifth and sixth grade, we add the layer of academic grade ranges, school citizenship and adherence to larger community norms. By seventh grade, students are participating in conferences, explaining where they feel successful and where they struggle. Upper School conferences should be about your child’s current academic standing and creating a road map (setting goals) for the second half of the semester. This type of goal-setting is not only useful for school, but is also great practice in life skills as well.

For all parents in all divisions, this is a wonderful opportunity to match up what you are seeing at home with what teachers are seeing at school. The conversations at conferences will often center on teacher feedback and parent questions. Come in with the knowledge that we are working on this educational process together to make sure each child is on a positive and forward-moving path.

Open communication and dialogue is the key. Education is a process, not just a product (or report card). Having read all of the report cards being sent home, I feel certain you will find this snapshot enlightening and informative.

About Kathleen McNamara Head's Up!

an educator in Independent Schools for over 28 years
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