While waiting to see an orthopaedic surgeon for my knee the other day I was anxious and nervous as I sat in the examination room. I knew I was prepared as I put together a sheet of paper with my vital information, medications that I was taking, the history of my knee pain, and the symptoms that I was experiencing. I had presented all of this information to the receptionist when I came for my appointment. The doctor took some time before he met me to read my document and he commented on how thorough and helpful the information I shared was to him. The examination went well and he and I agreed to work as a team to solve the issues surrounding my arthritic knee.
As I drove home from the appointment I thought about how parents feel when they have an appointment at their child's school to discuss their child's progress. Parents want their children to be happy in school. They also want them to work to their potential and to have friends and be successful. Sometimes a child has difficulty in school and when it comes to academic concerns the school may contact the parents to suggest an evaluation to find out what the child can do and what the child is having difficulty with. This may be hard for parents to accept. From the school's perspective, the teachers, administrators and support staff want all children to succeed and their call to you is a positive message. They want to work with you as a trusted team member to help your child. I found over my 34 years as a classroom teacher and elementary school principal that parents who took the time to help us better understand their child found the whole evaluation process to be a good one. It is critical that the school and the home work closely together.
So...be prepared to share important information with the school if your child is having difficulty. Helping the teachers and administrators better understand your child's emotional, physical and social abilities will make the connections to your child's academic abilities more complete. Please come to the meetings with written information and questions that help everyone keep focused. School personnel know that children who have parents who want to work as trusted team members get the best results. The school's only agenda is to give every child a fighting chance and accommodations and different teaching strategies can make a difference. Not all children learn the same way and the school will help you find out how your child best learns and will provide the needed services to make good things happen.
Remember that a child's most important teachers are his or her parents. You have known your child since birth (and before) and you know your child best. Help your child's school better understand your child in a positive way and your child will be the beneficiary of that strong home/school relationship.