As a seasoned educational professional – I will let you in on a little secret. July and August are special – they are the 2 months in the year that are intended for rest, recovery and reflection. I truly believe that in order to grow and process lessons learned – socially, emotionally and academically - one must be given the time and space to reflect. The summer is when a child solidifies all of their growth of the past school year and mentally readies their blank canvas for the upcoming year ahead.
Parents on the other hand have a wonderful opportunity to prepare for the year ahead to best support their child and be their advocate to ensure their social, emotional and academic needs are being met. Now – more than ever your children need you to have your ears to the ground and know how to help and support them. Education is a partnership between home and school and if you are not doing your homework – your children are only reaping a 50% benefit of that partnership. So what should parents be doing to prepare to be an advocate for their child?
Begin by revisiting the June report card and re read it. Parents also have taken the time and space away from the school year and have the perspective (based on reflection) to find new meaning in the formal report card. Here is how I suggest you read it:
- Create a blank template using the subject headings as your categories
- Skip the learning skills – we will come back to that after – go directly to the subjects
- With a pencil underline all of your child’s strengths in all subject areas
- Translate those strengths onto your template organized by subject
- Repeat the process with your child’s areas of weakness and add them to your template
Now you have a picture of your child as a learner – this picture will help guide you throughout the school year when observing and trying to work with your child at home.
Now go back to the learning skills. These represent a performance analysis record of how your child interacts and copes academically, socially and emotionally in the classroom. They speak directly to your child’s executive function – which is tied to their social and emotional intelligence. This intelligence allows your child to learn and demonstrate skills embedded in the curriculum across all subjects and grades. Read them again, carefully. Get to know your child as a learner – Socially, Emotionally and Academically.
Now, some parents prep guide ends there. You have used the Ministry repost card to arm yourself with knowledge to best guide, support and advocate for your child next year. Hurray – gold star. A plus.
For others – you may have other pertinent documents that come into play regarding your child’s individual school experience including but not limited to: Psychoeducational Assessments, Speech and Language Assessments, IEP’s, Behaviour Therapist Reports, Occupational Therapy Reports and general assessments.
Remember – a new IEP should be created for your child 30 school days post the first day of school. Every IEP should be sent home with a parent consultation form. Ensure that your input is in line with your child’s strengths and needs identified from their formal report card. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be an advocate for your child and to know them as learners – not just as your son or daughter.
Whether you need your self made report card chart when giving your input towards a ministry document that will forever be housed in your child’s OSR, or you are simply creating one so that you can participate from a place of knowledge during parent teacher interviews – do it. Gather the evidence and know your child as a learner. Become fluent in the language of learning and speak it with ease and confidence when working with your children’s teachers – it will make a world of difference this year.
As for your children? Let them enjoy the final few carefree weeks left of summer. You and I both know that because you are coming into the new school year with a whole new breadth of knowledge, they are already a step ahead of the crowd.
Happy Summer….Until our next lesson….