Category Archives for "Parent Power"

Sep 12

The Ultimate Guide to a Successful ‘Meet the Teacher’ Experience.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Parent Power , Work with the school

OK, so you have survived the first week of back to school now it is time to make the ‘Meet the Teacher’ meeting a success.

This meeting is normal set up during the first few weeks of the school year and, as the name suggests, it is a time for you to meet the person your child will be working with during the following 40 weeks or so.

It is an important meeting.   But it is easy to get wrong.  It is easy to come away from the meeting wondering what it was all about, why you were there, and what good it did you or your child.

And that is a shame, because, properly handled, this meeting helps set up your relationship with your child’s teacher and provides you with an understanding of what your child will be doing during the year.  So here is my guide to making the most of the ‘Meet the Teacher’ event that your school will be having.

 

 Notice the title – it is MEET the teacher, not GRILL the teacher!

You are there to get to know each other, to put names to faces, to look at the classroom and to get a feel for the kind of situation your child will be in.

You are not there to ask detailed questions about child’s learning or about what work your child should be doing at home, you are there to lay the groundwork to an important relationship – the relationship between home and school.

Put a face to a name.

You would be surprised at how difficult it can be for a teacher to match a child to a parent.  You might think that your child looks exactly like you but the teacher might not see the resemblance.  I have known – and I have been guilty of doing this myself – teachers go through a whole parent meeting and have no idea which child they are talking about.  This is especially true in High School where teachers meet hundreds of students and can find it very difficult to put a face to a name.

Take a recent photograph of your child with you when you go to this meeting.  Hold it in your hand as you talk to the teacher.  That way you can be sure that she is talking about YOUR child!

Be on time

I know, this can be difficult but teachers have many parents to talk to and won’t be able to wait if you are not there when you are expected to be there.  If you can’t make it, phone the school and leave a message.  You may even ask for another time to meet the teacher.

Ask about expectations around homework.

This is a biggie and getting this information can save you a whole lot of heartache later in the year.  Does the teacher give homework? How much homework does she expect a child to do each night? What kind of homework will your child be getting?  If your child is expected to do project work how are you exceed to help?  What happens if homework is not handed in on time?  Will homework grades count for the final grades? and, most importantly, Can you contact the teacher if you have concerns about your child and homework?

This leads into the next item on your agenda…

Confirm contact details.

The school office will have details of your address and phone number but you might also want the teacher to let you know if your child is having difficulty in class.  Tell the teacher that you would be happy to have this information and give her your phone number or another way she can contact you.

By doing this you have opened the door to the communication process and invited the teacher to step in and help you help your child.

If these details change make sure the teacher knows about the changes.

Ask what your commitment to your child’s education should be.

Does the teacher want you to help with homework? Check homework? Report problems? Provide extra support? or is he happy to let you decide what to do?   Perhaps you are expected to read with your child every night, or help him or her learn spellings for a test, or provide materials for project work.  You need to know.

Let the teacher know what you think her commitment should be.

Ask her to keep you informed about your child’s progress.  Report cards are not the best way to make this happen – perhaps she sends out monthly newsletters?  Remind the teacher that you will always be happy yo hear from her and that if there are any problems in class you want to be the first to know about them.

Then say ‘Thanks, nice to meet you!” and leave.

 

This is a lot to get through in the few minutes you will have to meet your child’s new teacher but if you approach these meetings with an agenda in mind you will get the information you need and the teacher will be grateful that you are using the time well.

Teachers can be scary but we are not all the ‘creatures’ some of you think we are!

 

It's that time again!
Aug 22

The Truth About Back to School

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Parent Power , Work with the school

It’s that time again and you are probably being bombarded with advice about how to prepare for the big day.  Most of the advice is good – so I don’t need to repeat it here – but, just for a moment let us go beyond all the information and advice and take a look at ‘Back to School’ from different perspectives.

  1. Back to School – Teachers

Your child’s first day of school is the last day of a teacher’s preparation for the new school year.  Most teachers have been in school for a week already, getting books prepared, sorting out files, having meeting, making sure resources are in place and working out how to fit students into the right class.

For Vice Principal the time has been even more hectic.  They have the responsibility of working out the timetabling for the whole school.  No easy job.  So the first day of Back to School for your child is something of a relief for teachers.  Preparations are complete and the year can begin.

Teachers are ready.

2.  Back to School – Students

Most students are very happy to be back in school.  They may complain and they may be nervous about the upcoming school year but like the rhythm and regularity of the school days.  They look forward to seeing new friends and reconnecting with old ones.  But Back to School time is also a time of great uncertainty.  What will the new teacher be like? Will I be able to do the work? What if I hate my new classroom?  What homework will I get and will I be able to do it? – all questions that are in the back of your child’s mind right now. Even the coolest kid harbours some trepidation about the new school year.

Students are nervous.

3. Back to School – Parents

So where do you fit into this picture?  You have probably been busy rushing round getting last minute supplies, being hassled by your child for the latest gear that he  cannot live without and been getting ready for the new routine that the school year brings.  All busy work.

But deep in your heart you are worried about the new school year.  Will he pass or fail?  Will she be happy or miserable?  Will the teacher understand your child’s needs?  Will your child make the right friends? and What can you do to make this year the best ever for your child?

Parents are worried.

The truth, the whole truth, about Back to School is that however much teachers prepare, however much students question, and however much you worry none of it really matters in the end.

Preparation is necessary but not sufficient.

After the first week or two all the teacher preparation will have changed, the student questions will have been answered BUT  your worries will not have gone away.

The only way to avoid worrying about your child’s success is know what you can do to ensure that it happens.  You need answers to your questions.  You need to know who to ask and how to ask them.

The truth about Back to School is that only you can ensure your child has a good year. Only you have the power to make good things happen for your child.

Scary, but as my mother said “It’s easy when you know how”.

back to School preparation is not enough. If you want your child to have a great year you need to know how to provide support that makes a difference.

 

Jul 06

The One Catastrophic Mistake Parents Make When Helping Children Learn And How To Avoid It.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Parent Power

I hate when this happens.  And it happens often.  What am I talking about? Parents doing their best to help their child succeed in school yet making the one catastrophic mistake that makes all their effort useless.

It goes something like this.  Child comes home with homework that he struggles to complete.  Parent rushes to help by telling child how to do the work.  Child looks confused and says ‘That is not the way my teacher told me!’  Parent frustrated because her help is rejected.  Everyone is upset.  No one knows why.

The big catastrophic mistake parents make is to assume that the best way they can help their child is by giving them ‘more school’, is by taking over the role of the child’s classroom teacher by trying to teach their child what he or she should have learned in the class.

Let’s be clear – parents have a vital role to play in helping children learn but their role is very different from that of the teacher.  Parents don’t need to give their child ‘more school’ they need to support their child in the way that only a parent can.  And if they don’t do this their child misses out and will never reach his to her potential.

How do parents avoid doing this?  Until now it has been almost impossible to avoid taking on the role of the teacher because no one as telling you what else you should be doing.

But that has changed.  Research states that what you do with your child AT HOME DURING REGULAR FAMILY ACTIVITIES is much more important to a child’s success than when you give your child ‘more school’.

Your role is to set the scene for learning, to make sure that your child is ready to learn, to ensure that your child can benefit from what the teacher is teaching.

When you get your child ready to learn and teachers teach your child what he has to learn your child is getting the support you are guaranteeing the your child is on the way to the future you both have dreamed of.

 

Jun 21

Is your child getting enough sleep? Are you sure?

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Parent Power

Most children do not get enough sleep – and that impacts their ability to learn.

Sleep is when your brain gets rid of all the detritus of the day, when your brain cleans itself, stores important memories, and gets ready for new information.  If a child’s brain does not have time to do all this – and more – that brain will not be functioning well the next day.

And that means less learning!

So how much sleep does your child need?  New research states that –

  • 3 – 5 year olds need 12 hours sleep each night
  • 6 – 8 year olds need between 10 and 12 hours
  • 8 – 12 year olds need 10 hours
  • 12 – 16 year olds need 9 – 10 hours sleep

That is a lot of sleep!

Young children need a good nighttime routine so that they go to bed with little fuss.  Older children may find it more difficult to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Their sleep pattern changes.  Teenagers tend to need to sleep longer in the morning – that is why it is hard for them to wake up in time for school.  We torture our teenage kids by making them start school at 9a.m.

And late night screen time doesn’t help either.  Video games stimulate brains and stimulated brains don’t get chance to rest and clean themselves unready for the next day. The research says that even one night’s disruption to sleep can cause brain problems for several days.  That means less learning for several days!

So is your child getting enough sleep?   Are you making sure your child is ready to learn?

 

 

Mar 06

Top five reasons your child hates homework and what you can do about it

By Dr. Patricia Porter | home page , Parent Power

We have all been there. A child has homework to do and really does not want to do it. But I never realized how serious this situation could become until I saw results of an online survey about parents and homework.

The survey indicated that:

  • 10% had no problem getting their child to do their homework
  • 18% had to remind their child to do their homework
  • 48% said that homework was a daily family battle
  • 16% reported that homework often caused a meltdown
  • 8% said that their child hated school because of homework!

These numbers are astonishing. What is going on here? Homework is supposed to be helping not making things worse! Homework should never, NEVER, cause issues with your relationship with your child. Your relationship with your child is far too precious to be threatened by you trying to get your child to do homework.

Now I know it can be difficult. I have worked with families where mothers (it is usually mothers) have been at their wits end trying to find ways to get their children to do homework. The anger and frustration caused by this situation spills out into all aspects of family life and causes all kinds of problems. I have seen parents threaten children with loss of privileges in an effort to get their child to do their homework. I have had mothers in tears on the phone because they don’t know what to do, and even know of mothers who do their child’s work for them rather than having to face the frustration and anger of getting their child to do the work!

What are you to do if your child hates homework? Unfortunately, that answer is not straightforward. It depends on the reasons WHY your child does not want to do homework. Here are five reasons children hate homework and what you can do about them.

1. Doing homework takes time, time that your child would rather spend doing fun things.
Solution – Set a limit to the time your child spends doing homework and stick to it. If your child knows he can stop working at a certain time he will be more motivated to do the work.

2. The homework is too hard and your child does not know how to do it.
Solution. Tell your child’s teacher that your child couldn’t do it so that the teacher can review the work.

3. Homework is ‘boring’.
Solution. This is a difficult because homework often is boring. Again, setting time limits AND talking to your child’s teacher about the issue may help. Children use the word ‘boring’ to cover a variety of situations, you might need to check out why your child thinks homework is boring.

4. Homework is left to the last minute.
Solution. Help your child keep a homework agenda complete with dates for when work has to be handed in. Mark dates on a calendar and work backwards to decide when your child should to start work. Then let your child be responsible for getting the work done on time. Don’t let your child let his problem (no time) become your problem.

5. Books needed for homework are left at school.
Solution. If this happens often it is a sure sign that your child is struggling to learn and feels that the homework is too hard. Talk to your child’s teacher and try to set up a system to remind your child what books are needed but also tell the teacher if your child is struggling with homework.

So, my advice about homework is this-
The amount of benefit your child gets from finishing a homework assignment NEVER outweighs the importance of your relationship with your child. The amount of time you spend cajoling and coercing your child to do their work is counterproductive. There is no way that homework should create tension in a family, and definitely not the kind of meltdowns the survey suggests.
Stop letting your child’s homework cause family problems, it is just not worth it.

Sep 08

How to Choose the Best School for Your Child.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Parent Power , Work with the school

Kids need more than slates and crayons!

Kids need more than slates and crayons!

Every parent wants their child to go to the best school in the neighbourhood and I am often asked which one I would recommend.

The answer is simple.

The best school of any child is one where the teachers teach the way the child learns best!

Some children learn best in a structured environment and for them a school with traditional approach would work well.  Others prefer a more open, creative way of learning and these students would do well in a school with that kind of approach to teaching.

It all depends on how the child likes to learn, on the child’s learning style.

That is why one of the ways to help children make sense of school (the second way you can support their learning) is to CONSIDER  how your child learns.

(The 3 C’s of helping children make sense of school are  Consider, Consult, Communicate)

When you know how your child learns best yo can choose the school that teaches in a way your child will appreciate.

Will your child learn best in a traditional, structured learning environment or a school with a more liberal easy going approach?

Does your child like science subjects or are arts something he really enjoys?

Is there chance for your child to play sports, or music, or learn about citizenship?

Only when you CONSIDER your child’s leaning style can you answer the question – “What is the best school for my child?”     And the answer will be different for every child.

So, the best school?………Well, it all depends………

Check out my Good to Great program if you want to discover how your child learns best and how you can make school make sense.

Aug 25

How Does Your Child Learn? And Why You Need To Know.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power

 

I wonder?

I wonder?

Children learn in many different ways, teachers teach in one or two ways. If your child learns the same way the teacher teaches all will be well. But it is more likely that the way your child learns does not match the way the teacher teaches.

The result ….

Loss of motivation, loss of confidence, low grades … well you know how it goes.

Any mismatch between how your child is taught and how he or she learns – and there is nearly always some kind of mismatch – makes learning much harder for your child than it should be.

You need to know how your child learns best so that you can help her adapt how she is being taught to the way she learns. You need to help her learn simple strategies that make learning quick and easy.

Do you know how your child learns best?

My Good to Great Pathfinder program helps you discover how your child learns and  what you can do to make school make sense.

 

This is the first step in Making School Make Sense – the 2nd way you can help your child succeed in school.

 

My Good to Great Pathfinder Program not only helps you discover your child’s unique learning style it also gives you strategies that help you make a difference in your child’s learning life.

 

Let’s talk!

Aug 18

3 Ways To Ensure Children Get The Education They Deserve

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Parent Power , Provide extra support , Work with the school

Is your child getting the best from school?

Is your child getting the best from school?

I am sure that you have heard the saying, ‘it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease’.   Well, in schools, it is the committed parent whose child gets the best education!

I know that it shouldn’t work that way – all children should get the education they need and deserve – but it does.  After 35 years in the classroom I have seen countless occasions where parental involvement made a difference to  children’s schooling.

But there are ways parents can do this effectively rather than turning the teacher off and making life difficult for a child.   Yes, unfortunately it does happen and I know that many parents shy away from getting involved with their child’s teacher because they fear their child will be stigmatized.

Here are three simple ways that you can – and must –  get involved with your child’s school to ensure that your child gets the best that the school can offer.

1.  Communicate

Too often children fall in the cracks between school and home.  Communication is the answer.  You need to know what your child is doing in school and the teacher needs to know what you are doing at home.  Report cards and parent-teacher conferences are not enough.  Find ways to communicate on a regular basis with your child’s teacher and expect him or her to do the same for you.

2. Consider

This is  harder to do but oh so important!   Kids learn in many different ways.  Teachers teach in a limited number of ways.  If the way your child is being taught does not match the way he or she learns best schoolwork will become a struggle.  Discover how your child learns  and how the teacher teaches so you can provide strategies that help your child adapt his learning.  ( My Good to Great Program helps you do this!)

3. Consult

Learn about the support systems that are available for parents.  Each school should have an organization dedicated to giving parents support.  Get involved and find out exactly how that group can support you and your child.  And, if you have concerns about how your child is being taught consult this organization to discover what you can do to change the situation.

These are the three C’s of working with a school so that your child s=gets the best the school can offer.

 

 

Aug 11

What to say so your child will learn

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power

Don't stop your child learning.

Don’t stop your child learning.

Did you know that everything you say to your child either helps or hinders their learning?

Everything!

Imagine the situation where you are trying to get your child to bed – you can either say “Go to bed now!”  or “It is time to go to bed so that you are ready for school in the morning”.

The first stops the child from thinking about why he or she should go to bed.  The second helps the child understand the cause an effect between bedtime and going to school.

It works with older students too.

Rather than say “Time to get your homework done!” try   ” If you start doing homework now you will be finished in time to watch your favourite TV show”.

You may not think that what you say to your child is important, that he or she should just listen and do what they are told.  But why waste the opportunity to help your child develop the thinking kills that lead to success?

It is really important that  you say the right things, the things that encourage your child to use his or her brain, the things that help your child develop the skills that lead to learning.

What are you going to say to YOUR child today?

 

Aug 04

How to make learning fun – one easy step at a time.

By Dr. Patricia Porter | Develop learning skills , Learning how to learn , Parent Power , Provide extra support

When learning is fun!

When learning is fun!

Imagine  your child loving learning, happy to do homework, never again struggling in class!

You can make this happen.

The secret?  Understanding that children need to learn how to learn.  Children need a set of basic skills that they can use in any learning situation.  Without these skills your child will  never love learning, never be happy to do homework, and will struggle in class.

And the wonder is that it is so easy to help your child develop the skills he or she needs.

One way is to Share  (This is one of the 3S’s that lead to learning success)

When you want your child to do something never assume that he or she knows what to do and how to do it.  Her is a simple three step process that you can use everyday to help your child develop the skills that lead to learning.

‘I, We, You’

( suppose that you want your child to make his bed)

1.  ‘I”

You do the task while your child is watching – and you talk about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

2.  ‘We’

Now you do the task together with you helping your child do the task well.   You need to unmake the bed before you do this.

3. ‘You’

Now it is time for the child to do the task on his own – while you stand around and offer help ONLY WHEN ASKED!

If your child can do the task well you can now assume that he is ready to take the responsibility of getting the job done.  No more excuses.

And don’t forget to congratulate him on learning a new skill!

 

 

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