Taking Stock of School Progress
Close to half of the school year is over when the hoidays hit, making it a good time to take stock of how things have been going this year. Then make resolutions to make the second half of the school year even better.
Don't just resolve to make changes, include your children. Ask them what needs to be changed to improve how the year is going for them. We are not talking about major roadblocks like learning disabilities that require considerable attention from you and the school over a long period of time. Instead, we are talking about the glitches that cause your children to bring home occasional bad grades. Once problem areas are identified, they often can be eliminated rather quickly. Think about whether the following situations are creating challenges:
Do your children appear to have a speech, hearing or vision problem? Even minor problems can cause learning problems and lower grades.
Are your children getting enough sleep? If not, they may be sleep-deprived and falling asleep in class.
Are your children missing too many days because of health problems? If so, a check-up probably is a good idea.
Are your children eating right? Without breakfast, their energy level may decline.
Are your children spending excessive amounts of time watching TV or on the computer? Doing so can add up to a lot of wasted time.
Is your home a disorganized madhouse every morning? Such daily confusion can result in important school tasks not being handled efficiently.
Do your children need personal digital assistants to keep track of their activities? If so, their schoolwork may be taking second place to their activities.
Do your children have good attendance records? They need to be in class to learn what's taught.
Problems with silent reading
Question: Twenty minutes of my son's third-grade reading time is spent having the students read silently. Even the teacher reads during this time. Wouldn't some instruction from the teacher during this time be a more appropriate way to improve his reading?
Answer: What you have described is called Sustained Silent Reading (SSR). You are right about your son needing some input from the teacher. Much of the criticism of the effectiveness of SSR is the lack of teacher-student interaction. Teachers should talk with students individually about what they are reading and make sure they can easily read the material. Plus, it's important that they listen to the students read passages and provide feedback on their reading skills. When teachers interact with students, the students are far more likely to make better use of this silent reading time.
Parents can send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.