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.

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Just a THOUGHT! Student Engagement is not possible without Teacher Engagement

Student Engagement is not possible without Teacher Engagement
ie Students are as interested in their class and learning as the teacher is excited and interested about the content being taught.

 

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Although using the word engagement with the noun -‘student’ conjures up images of a joke being narrated,I am not about to share a joke!

 

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My brush with Student Engagement started when during teacher training we were required to make our lessons interesting, only to realize later to my great disillusionment that the teaching world is split into two parts-one is, things meant for inspections, workshops and the other, the talk-chalk-talk world of the real classroom.

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However, when I look back on my experiences and satisfaction I have had from my teaching -learning experiences it is clear that the instances of student engagement which I have experienced were all such instances when I as a teacher was literally wonder stuck with the content I was to get my students to cope with perfectly and there was a large part of the learning outcome which each time was a surprise to me too.
I take as an example, my latest brush with the same when in fact I became the student and then the teacher. It was just a few days back , when I came formally in contact with Augmented -Reality learning apps . The newness and the sheer extent of unexplored possibilities by me, its usage for teaching had me engaged for hours.This minuscule instance has reiterated my belief. Definitely, student engagement is a critical part of the teaching-learning process.

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The important dozen- Why routines are important for children

18th June 2017

Whether you are a parent to a baby /a toddler or a kid any other age,the most generously given advise to you has to be – “You know ,you must get the kids on to a routine if you don’t want trouble later on ”

Setting children into routines? Easier said than done! The daily rigmarole, your work pressure, health issues, family ideas, beliefs and pressures are all as if conniving together to give you excuses to give up. They all seem to be bent upon making you loosen up your disciplined ,schooled self.While I completely empathise and sympathise with you -having gone through the entire  work vs house duties vs child duties and affection vs tiredness vs relaxed discipline cycle myself- fact remains – ROUTINES are very important for children for their balanced growth into healthy, sound teenagers and later on adults.

The entire process of growing up right from the baby’s birth is marked with CHANGE in every aspect of his life.Physical, mental, social and emotional growth all have CHANGE associated with them on almost daily basis. From giving up bottles to their standing as babies of the house to new skills learnt to accepting new people in their lives -read friends, teachers – to coming to terms with their wide range of emotions,childhood is not easy for children.

Routines, while setting children onto the path of RIGHT growth also provide just the right amount of prompting to catch the RIGHT path to growth.

Why are Routines important for Children

  1. Children are scared of change. Routines make them aware of what to expect, thus making themcomfortable and secure in their worlds.
  2. When children know what is expected of them, they are able to live up to those expectations. So Routines work towards makingchildren self confident and foster independence.
  3. Routines help kids totake charge of their own activities, thus helping them develop self discipline. If followed regularly, kids learn to brush teeth, wash, get ready for bed, pack bags in whatever order you prefer without constant reminders. Kids love to be in-charge!

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4. Thus, Routines eliminate unnecessary nagging.You are not Ms No all the time. Activities like napping, TV watching, doing homework, playing go on as casually as possible. Parents stop being the BAD guys.

5.  Routines reduce stress and anxiety for everyone. Kids cooperate and all know what comes next. So no one feels pushed.

6.   Routines help Parents maintain consistency in their expectations.

7.  Success in performing small tasks in Routines strengthen children and lay the foundation for rising to bigger challenges when required .Tasks  like going to school alone etc  come in gradual progression.

8. Routines also help parents incorporate in them special connecting moments like-a hug on meeting for the first time in the morning or/and touching feet of elders or a naming body parts ritual as you dry them after bath(let’s dry your toes…) …

9.   Routines make kids learn the concept of looking forward to things they enjoy.

10.  Routines help your children and their body clocks settle. Ability to nap, eat healthy etc are all linked to routines.

11. Routines help children get onto a schedule – Note : schedules and routines are two different entities.

12.  Last but not the least Routines bond families together – Children build life long associations to routines like entire family having dinner together.
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Having listed and maybe imbibed the above,  it is also a must to realize that too much structure dulls our and children’s sense of spontaneity .So set in routines but with sensitivity, don’t be oppressive be flexible too. Enjoy the bumps and mishaps. Setting routines takes time, effort and consistency .Start now, even babies and toddlers can be set to routines.  Be patient, praise effort not result, focus on what is going well and thus see your children thrive on routines.

 

 

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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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!