Have a Successful ‘School Parent Teacher Meet’ – Smart ways for smart Parents

Parents whatever you are  by  Profession , YOU  are also  Smart Parents of today. Today’s smart Parents are tech-savvy and very conscientious about handling each aspect of their lives and are goal oriented. So Parents, why should a meet which is about the most important part of your life –your children, be taken casually. It sure has to be handled the smart way. Prepare for it, as you must for any other meet which is expected to yield results.

An open day or a parent teacher meet (we concentrate here on only one to one meets) should actually carry a big ‘Handle with Care’ slip tagged to it. An unprepared attendance or a few unsolicited casual words by you at the PTM can result in wasted time, both- yours and the teacher’s.  It would also not yield the desired outcome-the best possible for your child!

On being asked what a PTM is, the most common answer received is: We ask the teachers how our child is performing in class and school or the teachers tell us if our child is under performing/ misbehaving. Well, it entails much more!

What is a PTM?

It is a meeting between the parents and teachers of students to discuss a child’s (student’s) learning and progress and find solutions to academic or behavioural problems.

 The highlighted words in the above sentence are the crux. They form the core of a successful parent teacher meet.

 Remember-a PTM entails:

  • A two way exchange of meaningful information between the parents and the teachers to find child friendly solutions for your child’s apparent/non apparent difficulties.
  • Realizing that Teachers and Parents have a common goal- that of working towards the betterment of your child.
  • Remembering that: Performance, learning and progress are all different words with specific meanings attached to them .Performance will automatically be good if the learning and progress are taking place as they should. So a Focus shift from performance or result is required.

Having been on both sides of the fence for many long years ( been a teacher and a mother) has made me approach PTMs very carefully and believe me, it is no bed of roses for either-the teachers or the parents! Here below, I have some of my ideas put into words for you all – Parents of course, teachers can wait to read them in another forum.

Before the PTM

Talk to your child :

  • Ask what are the child’s weakest (even though you already know) and strongest subjects.
  • Also inquire if the child wants you to talk about something to his teacher(s).
  • Make sure that your child understands the purpose of your going to the PTM-that is to help the child and not to make or listen to complaints about him.

Prepare a list of NOTES :

Teachers have a whole list of tasks to be accomplished too, and in most schools have to meet a certain number of parents(which is altogether quite a lot) as per allotted time schedule. So keeping in mind the following, strikes just the right note and helps in the interaction progressing smoothly and meaningfully.

  • Make a list of things to be inquired and discussed. It will help you be specific during the meet.
  • Ask other care takers of the child for things to be discussed
  • Prepare a prioritized list of queries/questions .For example :

What is my child expected to learn this year/this quarter etc?

Does my child submit home assignments on time?

How are my child’s test taking skills?

Does my child participate in the goings on in the classroom?

How are his social skills?

Does he seem happy in school?

Have you noticed any unusual behavior?

Has my child missed any classes other than the excused ones?

Is my child reaching his potential?

What can we parents do at home to contribute to his success story? (Remember, any  positive improvement is a success. Success has to have a different meaning for each                child as per the child’s potential.)

Does my child require any special educator services-maybe a programme for the gifted / a programme for learning disabilities/ extra remedial coaching?

During the PTM

  • Be on time.
  • Dress up formally but, be yourself. It surely is neither a casual gathering nor a party, so over dressing is totally out.
  • Wait for your turn. Don’t hover impatiently.
  • Stay calm and well mannered .Communicate positively and respectfully without anger.
  • Listen carefully and ask for clarification if not clear.
  • Ask the most important questions early on, else time might not permit. If necessary request for another appointment.
  • Discuss differences of opinion firmly but respectfully with an open mind.

After the PTM

  •  Talk to your child about the PTM. Emphasize the positives and be direct about problems if any discussed. If an action plan has been formed or discussed, explain the part which the child should know. Let him understand it is for his betterment.
  • Start working on the action plan.
  • Keep in touch with the teacher. This way child also realizes his education is a priority, at school and at home.

The Don’ts

  • Never use the threat ‘We will tell your teacher/principal’ to check indiscipline or insufficient study time. It undermines your authority and makes your child see teachers and school as unpleasant symbols of authority with just the role of policemen!
  • Don’t let the meeting become ‘About the Teacher’. Many a time a teacher will want to make sure you understand the dynamics of the classroom from a teacher’s point of view. For example you can only know how your child describes an out of control classroom to you. Actually it might not be the case at all. The classroom might be witnessing some highly interactive activities. So listen to the teacher before reacting.

 The Dos

  • Go with an open mind. Neither pick up negative thoughts about a particular teacher from your child’s mind nor come back and fill similar negative thoughts in your child’s mind. Children might not lie but they see things from their limited, gainful to them perspectives, so your honest knowledge about your child and direct talk in school might present a different picture altogether.

Also, your negative talk about a teacher even if sometimes justified will make your child to never respect the teacher, leave alone learn from him.

View PTMs as added and very important opportunities to contribute to your child’s success. This combination of you who knows your child inside out and the teacher who is trained and has experience in addition to being your child’s observer at school, can work wonders if the partnership is of mutual trust.

So work on it and give your child the successful PTM advantage.

Presentation2

 

Cooking with your child-Word your way to cook

5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills! – The second chapter

Word your way to cook

The festivities have begun and festivals, anywhere in the world are incomplete without food -festive or other- and children (even toddlers!) are generally super excited about it. I am back with the next family activity which not only encourages creativity in all family members but also improves body parts coordination especially among toddlers and primary level children. Benefits of adding new vocabulary to your child’s word bank and of course super family time with a sense of achievement are a bonus.

I present here a super simple recipe which does not require cooking with fire at all ( Can be used for kids aged 5or 6years too! Although, not using fire is not to be taken as the rule when cooking with kids as shared cooking and lots of communication is the aim ) .

So having with us our Chefs of the day ready for their cooking adventure, let us begin with the fun!

Chocolate Peanut Butter balls

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BeFunky Collage

The recipe notes and the picture above are self explanatory as to what is to be done. However I do have here, some pointers towards creating a great learning and fun experience for your kids:

  • To give them a free hand and wide surface to work on, I covered the entire work table with butter paper. Thus, was able to give them free reign with the dough, without bothering about spills.
  • All children love it when they are made to feel important and act all grown up. You can begin by making them some simple chef caps either temporary ones with chart paper and a stapler or readymade ones which are easily available too these days. Simple kiddy aprons to accompany are an appropriate touch .

          Pretending to be chefs has all the advantages of pretend play added as a bonus too!

  • Avoid almost all DON’TS and concentrate on the DOs .
  • Do be very expressive –talk, talk and talk-deliberately use words which you want your child to pick up. Don’t translate words like stir, drip, rather use your actions along with the words. They are more effective and fun as learning tools.
  • You can go a step ahead by engaging the kids in a recipe recall game with the family joining in. This takes care of practicing logical thinking skills too!
  • For younger kids you can even use the ingredients or their pictures for recalling the steps of a recipe.

Some fun and learning moments I had with my Co–Chefs

Mrinal, Mihika and Myra

  • “What is this? Peanut Butter. What is Peanut? Pat jumped in Mihika with- Peanut is a nut. Never wanting to remain behind Mrinal jumped in, I know vegetable names Onion…” This Provided me the opportunity to talk about so many vegetable names and point out interesting facts about them.
  •  The problem of measuring out exactly 1 cup of milk powder brought in the use of Measuring Cups. While problem solving skills came into use when they could not fit the cup measure directly into the Milk Powder Jar. Mrinal had the quick solution of using a smaller spoon to fill the cup. What a fine start to lessons in measurement! Endless scope: How many spoons can fill one cup? Many and Much concepts too!
  •  Taking half a cup of peanut butter brought in the concept of half, the word divide and other fractions. Gradually I had them asking for half a glass of water and half a chocolate!
  • Kneading in the milk powder along with peanut butter first and later with condensed milk had them super excited! All kids sure love to knead when they see their mother do it for chapattis or other bakery products.
  • While rolling the balls their ideas took wings and we had some bricks and spoon shapes made too along with the balls!
  • Dunking the balls into the chocolate sauce one by one; letting them swim in it and then catching them with a pair of tongs involved much shared laughter and became a game .The entire process is a wonderful hand eye coordination exercise.
  • The word drip was loved, as they all wanted the chocolate sauce to drip from the tongs directly into their hands  so that they could lick it!

The biggest problem I encountered –Had to send the kids again and again for washing their hands as they could not resist licking their fingers while preparing the dish!

Well there’s lot more to come in the third chapter of –5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!  So have fingerliscious da#teachersys till then with your kids!

5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!

The rains have set in the fun mood and the ensuing festive season has ushered in a lot of cheer. Just the time for some great family fun.

Well, rains and the accompanying uplift in spirit brought back my playful spirit too and one fine day I posted the following picture (a casual early morning click when on my morning walk) with an accompanying note on my social media account.

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Camouflage at its best .Seems as if the lovely parrots are teasing us. Spot us if you can! Find at least three parrots in the picture.

I was astonished to see the number of people who joined in the spirit and set to work finding the parrots and exclaiming to my delight Yay found em!’, ‘found!’ …the list keeps on growing longer.

This set me thinking, ‘when people, right from those in their thirties to near sixties and maybe more can’t resist a challenge, how much more fun it must be for children!’

What better way would there be for children to add on new vocabulary and enhance their communication skills than fun family activities and games. So here we are with some of my prefferred ideas and games for the on-going monsoon and the ensuing festive seasons. My list of 5 such ideas includes:

  1. The Great Monsoon Trail
  2. Cook your words or Word your way to cook!
  3. The hunt for treasure –Treasure hunt while playing with language!
  4. The big shopping expedition!
  5.  Party Fun

In today’s blog I would like to talk about the first one :

The Great Monsoon Trail

The monsoon ushers in lot of greenery in some form or the other and there is a lot of colour to look at around you .So walks and following trails when the time and wheather permits is the thing to do. These days most parents are health conscious and regular walkers /gymers. .The problem is that, while doing so  we take our surroundings for granted and don’t involve children  in the activities or don’t think it is important to keep up the chatter. So talk away, keep introducing words/names for things on the go without stressing on the learning -so that you don’t lose the fun quotient!

Go out to your garden/balcony/parks as a family at least once a week (maybe mornings or whenever you have time). Have a blast clicking away with your kids. You will be surprised, how different some scenarios can look and how many more things you are able to observe when seen minutely in focus!

Some activities /games which can be carried out /played while on the  monsoon walk:

  • Fun picture puzzle: The picture shown above and the words used as a caption are example enough for the kind of talk and vocabulary you have to use while talking to children and the scope of things which can be taught while having fun  .The vocabulary to be used can be toned down or up according to your child’s age –ex words like camouflage, adaptation(Also words like camouflage can be used to play lots of interesting family games. Tell children to camouflage themselves from fictional enemies and play the game .Camouflage can also be definitely used to talk about things like why Indian army has the uniform it has ).
  • Here are a few more of my favourite pics :

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Other than the obvious ones like roots, short, tall,colours …words like  a natural arch can be deliberately introduced in your conversation.

You can also ask -to find particular shaped/coloured leaves, look for chameleons /birds/flowers/other.

  • Tell children to take pictures too and make scrap books where each picture can have a question or a puzzle to unravel as shown in the pic above. Then all can sit together at a family sit together and have fun playing the game.
  • Collect unusual objects when following your trail (by the way trail is another word to be taught!) and design some artifact as a family .
  • Activities which involve lots of physical movement can also be an attraction and give a sense of achievement. Example-Following a pattern in a park, running around trees (not the bollywood kind!),trying to hang a bit from strong branches of a tree, trying to climb a tree if it is safe.

 

Will be back to share some great cooking fun with children in my next post .Till then, don’t wait for games like Pokemon Go in augmented reality to drag you and your child out of your home or be more active! The monsoon has brought precious natural treasures! So, move out have fun.