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Parents visit all the classes in their child's schedule in a mini-version of the child's day. This can be an eye-opener for parents who don't realize how much territory a middle school or high student has to cover in the course of a day.
Some students have classes that are only a semester long and will get a new set of teachers in the spring. Plan to attend the spring semester "meet-the-teachers" night, if your school has one.
By Marian Wilde
Ask any questions that you have about the curriculum, field trips or grades, but refrain from asking questions specific to your child that won't be useful to other parents. It's better to make an appointment for a conference to discuss your concerns one-on-one.
"It happens all the time that someone wants to ask you specifically about their child," says Lofton. "Parents need to know that the teacher would be better prepared to answer their questions and have more time for them if they would set up a conference, instead of trying to do it at 7:30 when it's possible that a teacher might have a young child at home and has been there all day and you may have other parents standing around. So questions are good, but they just need to be ones that address everyone's concerns."
There will be many opportunities to sign up for volunteer activities, either for school-wide programs or in the classroom. You'll be better prepared if you've already given some thought to your time constraints and how you'd like to contribute to the school community.
Denis Cruz, 2006 California Teacher of the Year, has taught in both elementary and middle school, and has seen many parents quit volunteering when their children reach middle school, often because they're intimidated by the subject matter. "Ask the principal if there's anything you can do to be involved in your child's education," suggests Cruz. "We seem to lose parents by eighth grade, but we still want their participation."
If your teacher hasn't already asked for it, now is a good time to give him a letter describing your child's personality, academic history and any areas of concern you may have. He will appreciate receiving the information.
Elementary school teachers will share the typical daily and weekly schedule for the class. If you want to volunteer in the classroom, this information is helpful in determining the best time to come. For example, if the teacher asks for parent volunteers to help her work with struggling readers, you need to know when the class is in the classroom reading and not out for music, art, P.E. or lunch.
Take a look around the classroom. Is it well-organized? Is it warm and inviting? Is there a lot of clutter? If it's cluttered, is the clutter educational and stimulating to young minds? You can tell quite a bit about the teacher from what you see on the walls and in the bookshelves. You will also have the opportunity to look at the textbooks and any journals, portfolios and artwork the students have created.
Many teachers ask parents to sit in their child's seat. This gives parents the opportunity to see the classroom from their child's point of view, and it gives teachers the chance to mentally match parents with students.
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