Category Archives for "Make School Make Sense"

Aug 15

Ready for school?: 5 ways you can ensure your child’s success.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Make School Make Sense

So, are you ready?  Is your child ready for the new school year?  Oh, I am not asking about new clothes or  school supplies or having a few last days of family fun. I am asking about something much more important than those back to school preparations, I am asking if you are ready to make the next school year the best your child has ever had.  I am asking if you are ready to help your child enjoy learning, reach his or her full learning potential and get great grades.

So, are you ready to help your child have a year full of success and happiness?

Let’s be honest.  Most parents don’t even understand what I am asking.  Why should they be the ones responsible for their child’s success?  Surely that is the job of the teacher?

Yes, teachers have to do a good job of teaching your child but research states that up to 80% of your child’s success in school depends on you – on how you support your child at home!  And providing back to school support goes way beyond buying school supplies and new clothes.

Here are four ways you can guarantee your child has a wonderful school year.

  1. Set high expectations.

Parent’s expectations are the main indicator of school success.  Having high expectations doesn’t mean that you have to expect your child to get A’s on every assignment. here is what you need to expect –

That your child will do his best and that the school will provide all the help your child needs.

You may be disappointed at times.  Your child may not always do his or her best work and the school may not provide all your child needs.  But if you start off the year with these expectations you will be ready to act when things go wrong.

2.  Make sure your child knows how to learn.

Too often teachers, and parents, expect children to learn when they don’t have the skills they need to be able to learn.  Kids struggle to do the best they can but learning becomes hard work and many children call it quits.  They start to think that they are stupid and begin to lose confidence in their abilities. If you are concerned that your bright child is lazy or just not trying it may be because he doesn’t have the skills that allow him to learn.

3.  Work with the school.

You don’t have to volunteer to help with every school outing but you do need to keep in touch with your child’s teacher so that you know what is happening in class and what the expectations are around your child’s learning. (There is that word – expectations – again!).

Then, if things are not going well, if you think your child is not learning what he is expected to learn, you can inform the teacher and ask for extra help for your child.  Teachers want all children to do well but it can be difficult to keep track of every student.

5.   Provide extra support when your child needs it.

Schools can’t do it all!  Sometimes students need extra support that the school cannot provide.  If your child needs extra support to master a subject or just to catch up on missed lessons you may need to hire a tutor.  The key to hiring the best tutor for your child is to find one that teaches the way your child likes to learn.  When you know how your child likes to learn you can hire a tutor that is going to help your child learn quickly and easily.  You save money and your child feels good about learning.

So, are you ready?  Do you expect your child to do well, know that he has the skills he needs to learn, are prepared to work with the school and to provide extra support the necessary?  If you answered ‘yes’ to all these then I congratulate you – you are ready to give your child the best year of his school life.  If you weren’t able to answer ‘yes’ to them all then you have some work to do.  You have to discover more about how your child learns and how you can provide support that works.

If you want to be able to say ‘yes’ to being ready for the new school year I am ready to give you any help and advice you may need.  Schedule a call and we can talk!




Jun 26

Why Report Cards Are Like Mexican Traffic Lights

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Make School Make Sense

It is report card time here in North America.  Students are wondering about the grades they will get and maybe dreading what you will say to them when you see them.  But before you take your chid’s report card too seriously there is something you should know.

There are many different kinds of report cards. Many use letter grades, others use comments, some use both. Although there are many differences between them the share one enormous similarity.

All report cards are like Mexican traffic lights!

If you are Mexican please forgive me for what I am  about to write – even though it was  Mexican friend who told me this.   Mexican traffic lights are ‘advisory’.  Drivers take them as an indication that they should stop or to slow down.  If you have ever driven in Mexico City you will know what I am talking about.   The traffic moves quickly and you can never be sure that cars will stop for red lights.

So how are report cards like Mexican Traffic lights?

All report cards are advisory.  They are not set in stone.  The grades you see are merely advice about how well your child is doing in a subject.

There is no consistency between the grades your child is given.  One teacher might give a child an A where another teacher would give a B or even a C.  That is why when your child changes teachers his or her grades may suddenly go up or go down. Not because your child has worked harder or not done the work but because what one teacher considers A work another teacher considers it a B.

So how do teachers decide what grade a child will get?  That depends on the teacher.  Some teachers go by test results, some go by homework scores, others assess project work.  But few teachers only use the marks a student gets during the year.  Most teachers mix in thoughts about the student’s attitude to learning, the amount of effort he or she has put into their work, the progress they have made since the last report card.

Is this fair? No, but it is the way it is.  That is why you MUST remember that report cards are advisory only.

When you look at your child’s report card think about Mexican traffic lights!


Mar 24

Successful school year? Now is the time to make sure it happens

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Make School Make Sense

Time to evaluate your child's progress

Time to evaluate your child’s progress

It is only the end of March but already schools are thinking about next year – which kids are going to go where, which kids will pass the year with honours, who will need extra help.  There is not a lot of time left to make sure that your child gets the Grades he or she is capable of getting and ends the year on a good note.

If you have any concerns about your child’s education now is an excellent time to take action to get them dealt with.  Schools are beginning to wind up the school year, yes I know it is early but it is just the way it is, and as soon as the Easter holidays are over the pressure on teaching drops off.  This allows you time to meet teachers , talk to them about your concerns and get them dealt with.

You should have received your child’s second report card and had a meeting with the teacher so you will have a good idea of how your child is doing.  Read the report card carefully!  Read between the lines and think about what is not there as much as what is.

It is never too late to help your child get the support he or she needs – but NOW is the best time to make sure that your child’s school year has been a success.

Don’t forget – I am more than happy to talk to you about your concerns and to give you advice on how to help your child.  Use the buttons on this site to schedule a free call.  Don’t wait, please don’t wait.  Your child needs your support now.

Sep 10

OMG! My kid is in a mixed grade class!!!

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Make School Make Sense


Don’t panic!  Everything will be OK.  Being in a mixed grade class is not the end of the world for your child, in fact there can be advantages to being in a split grade class – honest.  But, if your child is in a split class you have a special role to play. You must be aware of how well your child is doing so you can make sure that he or she is getting the education relevant to their Grade level.

First, some reasons why kids are placed in split classes.

* It is usually an administrative issue.  There are not enough children in one grade to need the services of an extra teacher for that grade.  So they put two (or in some cases 3) grades together.

* Children who might need some extra time or support to cover the material in one grade level may be placed with children in that grade so they have chance to catch up.

* Students in the higher grade may need the emotional support provided for students in the lower grade.

Teachers usually spend a lot of time working out which child should be in split classes.

Now, your special role

* Make an appointment to talk to the teacher or Principle to discover why your child was placed in a split class.  You need to know so you can provide extra help  if your child needs it.

* Ask about the teacher’s experience teaching both grades, and why they were chosen to teach a mixed grade class.  For such a class to work well the teacher needs to be experienced and able to handle the extra workload of teaching two sets of curricula.

*  Meet the teacher and talk about your concerns and ask what you can do to make sure your child gets the education he or she needs.  There might be homework issues and you might need access to workbooks from both grade levels.

* Celebrate the fact that your child has been specially chosen to be in this class.  Tell your child that it is a privilege and a special treat because it means that the teachers have been thinking really carefully  about  your child’s learning needs.

Still concerned?  If you want to discuss any issues contact me.  Always ready to help.  ( Oh, spoiler alert! I once taught a Grade 5/6/7 class and loved it!)