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Today is:
Apples From The Teacher, Volume Two
By Lauren K. Jones

Editors Note: Welcome to Volume Two of Apples From The Teacher featuring the thoughts and tips of Lauren K. Jones, a teacher based in Virginia. We hope she can share some insight and advice from a teacher's perspective and hope you will send your questions and comments to via email and other correspondense method. Let us know what you think.

It's November and your child has just finished his first marking period of the school year.   This first nine weeks can be a major adjusting period for your child, his teacher, and you as well.     It is important that all requirements are known, expectations are clear, jobs are done, bad habits are nipped in the bud, and kinks smoothed out realizing that as the year goes on the level and amount of work will surely increase.  


Just because it is early in the year does not mean that you can't start asking questions and getting involved to ensure your child is on the right track, no matter how young or old. The end of the year or even the middle of the year could be too late!


Here is some first marking period "look fors" at this point in the year:


Does your child have a daily routine?  


Consistency is key !   This is for students of all ages.   A regular routine from the time the child gets up until bedtime is best.


  Lessen the responsibilities for the child in the morning by taking care of things before bed such as:   Making sure all school materials are put in the school bag the night before (signed papers/forms, homework, folders, binders, etc.), uniforms/school clothes ironed and laid out, lunch money, etc.   This allows for the child not to be rushed or worried before getting to school.


Let your child know his schedule !   If your child goes to before school care and/or after school care let him know what days and times.   It's their schedule.   It's a good thing to let your child know just in case they may need the information for emergency purposes as well.   Also let them have some ownership and responsibility.   Maybe their job can be to get mommy's car keys for her in the morning and put them back in the same place at night.   Or have your child have some responsibility in reminding you of events that will be taking place during the week.


Do you know your child's schedule at school ?   You definitely should.   If you know your child is struggling in a class they have in the mornings, maybe it would be a good idea to try to schedule doctor's appointments in the early afternoon.   Or let the teacher know in advance so they can have the notes or material ready for them before or after the missed class.   Be accommodating to your child's education.


Schedule extracurricular activities around school time .   If practice goes until 7pm make sure you are still allowing time for homework, dinner, and chores to be thoroughly completed.


Have you talked to the teacher?


By this time of year you should have had at least 2-3 correspondences with the teacher via conference, phone, or letter.   If not, schedule one immediately!   Talking with the teacher is the only way to get a real feel of how your child is progressing.   The report card should not be the initial contact.   Even if you can not make it to the school during the assigned days and times for parent-teacher conferences, phone conferences, notes/letters to school, even email will do.   Ask specific questions about academics and behavior.   As a teacher, I know parents hate to be shocked.   Consistent communication always helps the student in the end.   Knowing that the teacher and parent communicate reinforces the importance of school to the child.   Also, knowing the parent is consistently involved lets the teacher know there is positive support in the home.


Is your child where he/she needs to be?


Make sure your child is taking the right classes.   High school seniors need to take all classes that are required for graduation first.   Make sure all requirements are met or are in the process of being met in order to be promoted to the next grade or to graduate.   Also, with the No Child Left Behind Act, many standardized tests are required for graduation.   Plus, the students in elementary and middle school grades are often put in remediation classes if they are not successful in passing the tests.   These classes are not a bad thing.   I would recommend that your child be in these classes in order to be successful their second time around.   The results of these tests determine school funding, need of educational assistance and accommodations, teacher selections and can even determine whether or not the school remains open.

Where's your homework and graded papers ?  


There should be daily, weekly or biweekly evidence of work from your child.   On every grade level homework is given just about every day.   If your child always says he has no homework or that I did my homework at school give the teacher a call .   If your child has completed the homework before you arrive home, then check over it.   Even if you need to brush up on the concept being practiced, see if your child gave a thorough effort.   The quality of work effect grades.   Homework is a tell tale sign of your child's effort.   Also, your child should have a place that homework is written down on a daily basis.   Many school systems provide agendas/assignment books/daily planners to keep written homework assignments.   If your child does not have one, you can find an assignment book in any store that sells school supplies.   Or a simple one subject notebook can easily be transformed into a daily planner by putting the date at the top of each page and each subject along the side.


Graded papers should be sent home on a regular basis .   Most elementary schools have one day a week designated to hand back papers.   Middle and high school students may receive them less often.   They are handed back by the subject's teacher.   Parents beware of papers that only show good grades, unless your child is an exceptional student.   We've all gotten bad grades, no matter how well we did in school.   Some students like to hide the poor grades and parents are often surprised when conferencing with the teacher or at report card time.    


What's New??

How has your child's reading level or math level changed from last year?   Are they performing above grade level, on grade level or below grade level ?  


Is there anything new going on in your child's school? : new principal, PTA president, math textbooks, scheduling, requirements, testing?   All of these can play a factor into your child adjusting, feeling comfortable, and succeeding at school.   Schools usually send out flyers or mail letters home as a way to inform parents of school events.   Emphasize the importance of these flyers to your child in order to make sure the flyer or letter is put into your hand to read.


Progress Reports

Have you received your child's progress report?   There are nine weeks in a marking period.   Progress reports or interims come half way through the marking period (Four or five weeks).   This gives an idea of how your child is doing.   Expect a progress report/interim every marking period.


Report Cards


Do you understand all of the information on the report cards?   Report cards used to be simple, now some report cards come loaded with information and abbreviations that you may not understand.   When you conference with your son or daughter's teacher, make sure you receive clarification on those elements that are not clear to you.   Please do not be afraid to ask.   Some of the educational jargon can be quite intimidating and confusing if you are not an educator yourself.   Make sure you ask for the simple terms in order for you to understand how to best help your child.


8. How can you help?


Communication with your child's teacher is important.   Let the teacher know if something is going on at home that may affect the performance of your child.


Don't be afraid to pick up your child's textbook and read it.   Knowing what material your child is learning or studying can produce impromptu discussions about the subject.


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