Today's Lesson

In our experience we have met 2 types of parents; parents looking for the best school (‘best’ based on a set of criteria predetermined well before they speak to us). And - the other type of parent.  Parents who are determined to find the best school for their child.


If you are the first type of parent, best of luck to you on your search. We are confident you will find an amazing school (as many do exist) and your child may (or may not) bask in their glow of excellence. Unfortunately, excellence does not breed through osmosis. We believe that one rather, should approach selecting their child’s school with a grain of realism. 


Which brings me to the most important question you can ask yourself to launch your search: “What is the best school for my child?”


At Wolff Educational Services we conduct needs assessments that breaks this criteria into 3 selection houses. They are the Social, Emotional and Academic Houses of your child’s success and achievement at school. We have broken these houses into realistic criteria based on actual achievement data (the learning skills) and are written in academic language (reflective of curriculum expectations). Once the assessment is completed, it is simply a matter of matching the results (your child's area of strength and need) with the schools that offer programming in these areas. The equation breeds student success and achievement. Its flawless in its design.


Parents, education today is comprised of these 3 houses working together in unity and harmony. Students must demonstrate learning in all 3 of these areas in order to be successful. The way the curriculum is taught and learned is not inherent of 20th century practices anymore. 21st century classrooms are much more layered in there design and learning platforms are reflective of differentiated instruction, individualized for your child to demonstrate learning and skills. 


Before you begin your school search, know what it is your are looking for. Know what your child's strengths and areas of need are in each area (house) of the learning platforms and how they relate to both the classroom and school. Understand what the classroom does and can do, map the landscape as you would any foreign environment. 


And if you feel like you need an education in all things education before you try and map out a route for your child - call us! We can help - however, we will only find the best school for your child….not necessarily what you think is the best school.


Until Our Next Lesson……


How can the Report Card be used to drive improvement, even if your child is meeting or exceeding expectations?

 It’s Report Card time, the perfect time for reflection and for planning. At this time in the year, parents should be able to look back and list things that were learned in each subject, as well as areas that could use some improvement or enrichment. In fact, your children should be the ones to tell you.  As a parent, you know your child the best.  Are you pleased with the list?  Do you think there could have been more items in the “learned” column?

Along with Report Cards, some boards have Interviews. Whether or not you are scheduling an interview, an effective strategy for determining the overall achievement of your child, is to colour-code the report card.   Use one colour for areas where your child has met the expectations; another colour for areas that exceeded expectations and a third colour for areas of concern. Bring the Report Card with you to the interview and be familiar with it.  Prioritize what you want to discuss and stay focused. Ask direct questions. The achievement falls into three categories: not meeting expectations; meeting expectation and exceeding expectations.  These are questions you should be asking:

For students not meeting expectations: What can you do at home to support what is being done at school?
What strategies has the teacher used to help improve achievement?
Do changes need to be made to the level of curriculum?
Is it a problem related to Learning Skills (Not being prepared? Not being attentive?
Is your child sitting in the correct place to optimize listening and attentio
In what ways does your child demonstrate learning?
Does your child require extra time to complete tasks?  Do they receive it?

For students meeting expectations: What can you do at home to support what is being done at school?
How will the teacher “stretch” their thinking?
Can your child demonstrate achievement in multiple ways? (i.e. “How else can you explain that? What is another strategy that you can use?”
Is your child reading a variety of genres? Is the teacher monitoring independent reading and encouraging variety
How is your child responding to literature? Are they able to answer questions that require inferencing and evaluative skills
Are they able to use a variety of math problem solving strategies?

For students exceeding expectations: What can you do at home to support what is being done at school?
Are they being encouraged to “think outside the box?”
Are they able to provide responses using a variety of methods (i.e. pencil/paper, oral presentation, computer generated, group and individual)
Are they developing critical thinking skills?  Can they ask (and answer) questions that require reflection and opinion
Can they transfer knowledge to the real world?

If your child has an IEP, it must be reviewed, now.  Firstly, is it working? Is your child meeting or progressing toward meeting expectations? Is it a modified program or is your child receiving accommodations? If the program is modified, do the expectations need to be revised? It’s never too early for your child to learn how to advocate for themselves.  They should know what they’re good at and the areas they struggle with. (They will know that without you telling them). Remind them that they are part of a “team” and each member (teachers, parents, students) has a responsibility. If appropriate, your child should always be part of the meetings that involve IEP’s.  They are the ones to provide the most valuable insight into what is working and what is not.

Study the Report Card and understand it.  Use the information to make a plan; choosing specific strategies that will provide the greatest opportunity for your child to be successful. Don’t let time pass and get to June and then say, “What did my child learn this year?”  That should be an ongoing question, one that has specific answers. 

Until our next lesson…