Acting on Concerns about Your Child's Schoolwork
From time to time, you're going to have questions, and possibly even some concerns, about your child's schoolwork. This may stem from the difficulty (or lack thereof) of assignments, the content being taught, or the teaching methods being used. Before reaching for the phone and calling the principal or superintendent, consider these approaches.
My child's assignments are too easy. Before accusing the teacher of setting low expectations, take a look at exactly what your child is being asked to do. Compare the assignments she is given with the expectations of the standards for that subject and grade level. Perhaps the teacher is making sure the students understand the basics before moving on to more rigorous aspects of a particular skill or concept. After taking a deeper look, reach out to your child's teacher for more information if you still have concerns.
My child's assignments are too hard. If it seems like your child is struggling with almost every assignment he is given, a logical assumption is that he's being given work that is too hard. Before jumping to that conclusion, however, take a minute to determine exactly what it is he finds difficult. The instructions? A particular skill or procedure? Everything? Maybe he just needs help getting started, and then everything will make sense. Or, your child's teacher may be challenging your child because he shows a high degree of ability in class. It may just be that a difficult skill or concept is being taught at this time. If you're still concerned after thinking about these possibilities, communicate your concerns to your child's teacher and work together to find a solution.
I think my child's teacher isn't teaching the standards. Sometimes it's difficult to see the connection between an assignment that is sent home and the academic standard to which it is linked. Other times, you may get a strange answer when you ask your child, "What did you do/learn at school today?" Either of these scenarios may lead you to question whether your child's teacher is focusing on what needs to be taught. If you think your child isn't being taught essential skills and concepts from the standards, check with the teacher to see what standards are being taught that week. Many teachers have to identify the standards they are teaching on lesson plans or other forms, so it shouldn't be a problem for them to let you know what they are teaching in class.
My child is given work that is different from other students' work. If your child has assignments that look different from their peers' assignments, consider several potential explanations. Sometimes teachers differentiate their lessons based on students' abilities. This means that students demonstrating varying degrees of ability may be given different assignments. Teachers also structure their classes in different ways at times, so your child may be given an assignment before (or after) another student has the same assignment. If you think there are other reasons, the teacher should be able to account for these variations.
My child's teacher doesn't teach in a way she can understand. At one time or another, your child is probably going to have a teacher whom she doesn't find to be particularly engaging, interesting, or easy to understand. Because you, your child, and the teacher have to work together in order for your child to be successful, you want to find an agreeable solution. If you know that your child learns better in certain ways than others, feel free to let the teacher know. Your child may be a visual learner who needs to see pictures and examples. Or maybe your child needs a chance to try something on her own before she can truly understand it. Whatever the case, don't miss an opportunity to work with the teacher to ensure that your child's needs are met.