Princess Muse

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Musings on Back to School Nights

Yay me!  I get to go to not one, but two back to school nights!

We got a robo-call from the principal of the elementary school that my younger son attends reminding us about Back to School night.  My husband asked me, as this is our seventh Back to School night at the elementary school, if we really needed to go.  Oh, I was tempted to say "No," but really, we do need to go.

Here's the thing about Back to School Nights:  it's a chance to hear about the curriculum your teacher will teach your child this year.  It's also a chance for you to show your child's teacher that you plan on being an involved partner in your child's education.

Now, let's define what I mean by being involved.  To be involved means to make sure that homework is done.  Ask your child how they did the homework.  Ask questions about what they are learning.  Find out what books are being read in their reading class.  If you're familiar with the book, talk about it.  Discuss concepts learned in science.  Have your child teach you how to do math (the ways math is taught does change.  How my sons have learned math is different from how I learned--yeah, way back in the Dark Ages).  My best semester in college was the semester I hung out with people in my classes.  I didn't study any harder, but I had a better grasp on the concepts taught--why?  Because I discussed them with my peers.  Plus, your child will get a kick out of "teaching" you, and you'll be able to strengthen bonds with your child.

However, being involved does not mean second guessing your child's teacher.  If you do have questions about how something is being taught (or why or anything else), ask nicely for an appointment.  Do not tell a teacher that you will see them tomorrow at 10 am.  It may not be their planning time.  Your child's teacher has a 50 minute planning time.  In that time they may need to meet with other teachers about activities happening in the school, grade papers and get set up for the rest of the day.  They have an half-hour for lunch, and then they have to supervise recess.  The rest of the time, they are involved in teaching your child.  Even if there is seat work being done, your child's teacher is probably helping students with questions.  They are not sitting around reading romance novels and eating bonbons.

As your child gets older, it's still important to go to Back to School Nights.  You will have less time to interact with the teachers (and really, Back to School Night is not the best time to have "face time" with teachers.  Sadly, you are 1 in 150.  Teachers are allotted about 10 minutes to do a presentation before you have to go to the next "class"), but by being there and listening (and not talking to the parent next to you), you are sending out the message that education is important.  More importantly, you are sending this message to your child:  What you do is important to me.  I want to make sure that you are getting the best education that we can get.

Besides, the teachers have to be there.  You don't.  Your showing up tells the teacher that you appreciate them doing their best job with your child.

Besides, there could be something aMusing at the PTA meeting.

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