The Answers to Parents

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All in one place for the first time, parents can find answers to the many questions that come up all through a childhood.

 

 

The Answers to Parents Most Common Questions

 

How can I tell if my child is doing well in school?


Parents often don’t know how their child is doing in school. While they certainly hope her work is average or above average, they have only a vague notion of what the school expects. Curricula vary from school to school, even from class to class. One school system may introduce multiplication tables in second grade while another waits until third or fourth grade. Schools offer only minimal information about coursework and expectations. This makes it difficult for parents to judge how well their child is mastering the material.

If you’re having trouble evaluating your child’s progress, first check the work she’s bringing home. (You may have to search the bottom of her backpack for crumpled papers.) What kinds of assignments is the teacher giving? Are directions clear? Does the level of work seem appropriate?

See what kinds of comments and grades the teacher is putting on the papers. You may be dismayed to find red “X”s and negative comments. Such markings don’t necessarily mean your child is doing poorly. Many teachers single out mistakes, ignoring the many correct answers on a page. Sometimes make your own evaluation of your child’s written work.

Talk to your child about her class work. Does she feel she’s doing well? Keeping up? Kids usually know where they stand in the class. You may hear, “I keep getting bad grades on my spelling papers,” or, “I finish reading before anyone else does.”

You can learn about the school’s curriculum and standards by talking to your child’s friends—those in her class and those in other classes. Ask what they’re doing in school. Be specific: “Are you on sub traction? Have you studied the planets? Do you write reports?”

Whenever you have questions, talk to your child’s teacher. Find out specifically what material is covered in class. Ask for suggestions to improve your child’s performance and offer any suggestions you may have.

Report cards are the standard means of teacher-to-parents communication. Yet, a series of check marks or letter grades without written comments is often not enough. Does a “B” in social studies mean your child is truly mastering the subject, or does it mean she’s a cooperative student who hands in her worksheets on time?

You want your child to get good marks and you also want to know that she’s learning. Unfortunately, grades don’t always reflect mastery. One second-grader, for instance, had neat, legible handwriting. Her teacher wanted her to write on paper with oversized lines. The girl had trouble making exaggerated letters and therefore was given a low grade even though her writing looked like that of an older student. Another child was good at math, but balked at doing repetitive, easy drill work. He got a low grade that did not reflect his high mathematical ability.

At times you may feel your child is receiving a mark that’s too high. You know she doesn’t understand her science book, yet the teacher gives her a high grade for being neat and paying attention. Since grades may or may not accurately reflect progress, rely on your instincts as well as on graded papers and report cards when judging your child’s achievements.

You can sometimes learn more about how she’s doing by examining the results of standardized tests. After she’s been tested at school, ask if you can see the results, including a comparison of her scores with those of her peers. If the school isn’t required to disclose results, consider having your child tested by an educational specialist. If the testing shows she’s learning well, you’ll feel reassured. If it shows less favorable results, the specialist may be able to discover the reasons your child is not doing as well as you’d like.

 

 

 

 

 

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