Dear Ilana and Jess: My husband and I attend back-to-school night faithfully every year, but I never leave with anything useful. I know it’s called back-to-school night, but I have to say, I think it’s held too early in the school year. Usually, things don’t get difficult for the kids for a few more weeks. How can I make the most out of back-to-school night? — Allison
Dear Allison: Even if the ongoing school year hasn’t given you much to talk about, this isn’t your first rodeo — or your kids’. Before you head into those meetings, draft a list of difficulties your children experienced during the previous school year. Maybe they’ve struggled with their work loads, or have had trouble with specific subjects. When making your list, consider all aspects of their academic lives — from classroom behavior to homework, social engagement, and extra curriculars.
Before you attend back-to-school night, prepare questions that lend themselves to actionable steps. For example, ask the teachers: “How can I help my child do well in your class? Are there any study strategies you recommend? What are the most difficult concepts covered?” The more specific the information you gather, the better. Be sure to ask each of your kids’ teachers about the most challenging projects or papers they assign in their class. Then ask how your children can best prepare for these assignments, and when they’ll be due.
Help your children’s teachers get to know them by giving the background information they’ve yet to gather. Back-to-school night is the perfect time to give teachers a heads-up about learning difficulties, academic accommodations, and areas of concern. When your children’s teachers know what to watch for, they can intervene proactively, communicate with you promptly, and prevent problems from happening.
Children spend more time at school than they do at home. The relationships they build with their teachers will have lifelong impact. Invest in these relationships by showing your kids’ teachers that they are valued. Consider purchasing each of them a $10 gift card to your local book store or favorite coffee place. It’s a small gesture of appreciation that will help them remember you.
Finally, remember that the old adage about the squeaky wheel applies. Don’t be afraid to take initiative in opening the lines of communication with your children’s teachers. If you forget to ask them something, or think of a new question after the night is over, reach out to them in an email or organize an additional meeting. If you don’t receive a reply, follow up!
Say This: “How can I help my child do well in your class?”
Not That: “I don’t have any questions yet!”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, “Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter” Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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