Across the state, teachers are attending to the individual needs of each of their students in a different way. With parent conferences and report cards taking place, the focus is on how to communicate the flow of each student’s school day to his or her parents or guardians. What are the particular characteristics of these individual children that make some parts of the day feel like a long walk up a steep hill and some parts of the day feel like a refreshing dip in the ocean? Some conferences focus primarily on academic progress and needs; others focus on social growth. Both areas are equally important to a successful school experience and to the development of those skills and habits of mind that will be needed as your children grow into adolescence and adulthood. For most children, one area or the other, social or academic, will demand attention at the different developmental stages. Progress in both areas will be dependent on a dialog between teachers and parents that will keep everyone abreast of changes, particularly those that may affect a child’s ability to concentrate or deal with stress. Even a long walk up a steep hill can be full of the fun of collecting acorns, the beauty of fall foliage and the sense of accomplishment that comes from the view at the top.
When parents and teachers come together with their own perspectives, they can note changes, develop confidence in potential growth, create solutions to problems and commit to a willingness to continue to work together for the remainder of the school year. Parents and teachers alike should listen to each other’s perspectives and offer their own. A well-rounded, more complete picture of the children will emerge and allow all of the important adults in their lives to provide the support and encouragement they need. Both parents and teachers want the children to stay excited about learning and develop attitudes that will nurture the skills and the courage to apply what they know to new situations, questions and problems. Tell your child’s teacher what inspires him or her to learn. Help build the creativity, self-confidence, persistence and motivation that will nurture important lifelong habits and attitudes. It’s through these intangible things that life will measure and challenge your child. Through his or her resilience, stamina, initiative and persistence with frustration will come both school success and a life of fulfillment. Teachers sometimes laugh with each other about dreading conferences and being on the opposite side of a table from a difficult parent. But in reality, they look forward to talking with someone who cares about the things that will help their students become better learners – learners who know how to approach the steep hills that will inevitably appear around the corners of their lives.
Zibby Andrews is the head of preschool for Garrison Forest School