Monthly Archives: September 2008

The First Quarter Progress Report and a Great Start!

     Now that we’re back in the swing of things and the familiarity of the back to school routine, it becomes easier to see the direction our kids are headed with their school work.


     By now,  we have a feel for which teachers they love and those they’re not so fond of, which subjects are a breeze and which are grueling, and whether they’re keeping it together in time management and organization.


     Yep, it only takes a few short weeks–we just got started but we’re far enough in, that if we let things go that need help, before long our child will be buried and finding their equilibrium will become more challenging with each passing day.


      So let’s keep our eyes and ears open and by the time that first progress report comes home, get ready to step into action if need be.  The tidbits we get from our kids (especially teenagers) need to be taken through the proper grid.  It’s important for us to distinguish between the drama and the dilemma. 


     Soon our kids’ progress reports will arrive in the mail.  And though we may keep pretty close tabs on what they’re up to–the progress report is the indicator on the dashboard of a child’s current academic situation.  We can choose to let it blink and ignore it or we can get help.


So what to do if the progress report isn’t what one would hope?  Here are a couple of suggestions:


1.  Sit with your child and get a feel for what they’re really struggling with–is it a learning issue, personality conflict with the teacher or too much socializing friends?  Have they handed in all of their homework, completed all projects and assignments?  These can tend to nosedive a grade quicker than you can blink.  We need to help them see the importance of staying on top of things so they don’t get buried under an avalanche of back assignments.


2.  Visit their teachers and subjects in question.  This is a great time to become an ally with teachers so they know that you are working on the same team on behalf of your child.  Be willing to listen to the good, the bad and the ugly about your child.  That’s really the only way you’ll be able to help, if you’re willing to see what needs work and where the gaps are.


3.  Now it’s time to close those gaps.  Identify them and get the necessary help to build knowledge, skill and confidence into your child in those areas.  This could be a time when to have your child stay after school for extra help that teachers offer but it may also be the best time to call a private tutor.  If you wait and see how things go, the information may overload your child and he/she may be further behind as a result.  If we are forward thinking and take a proactive approach we can position our kids for confidence. The help they receive will aid them in comprehension and will help ease the stress they may have been feeling. 


     Getting off to a great start can make the difference for the whole school year.  When that first progress report comes home, let’s jump into action and be sure to do all that we need to do to ensure academic success for our kids.  The small effort we make now can yield great results in the weeks and months ahead.




Back to School-Back to Reality


 It’s been almost two months since I returned from Israel.  It has taken almost all of that time to get back in the swing of things.  Though I stay in constant touch with friends and “family” there through email, skype and facebook–it’ not quite the same as being there. 

So why am I telling you all of this? To remind us both that our idea of back to reality is radically different from our kids’ idea of back to reality.  If you’re kids are like mine the minute I begin to wax on with, “When I was a kid…” I usually get groans and negative reactions.  I have yet to hear my kids say, “Tell us more mom, we love stories about your life a hundred years ago!”  And so I try to remind myself that back to school for my kids looks nothing like back to school did for me.

For starters, they have many more pressures on them then we did back in the day.  The expectations socially and academically trump ours and we, as parents, need to be sensitive to their transition as they return to friends, homework and the school environment.  We need to even be more in tune if they are starting a new school, especially if they have arrived from another place–whether across town or across the world.

Two things I want to do to the best of my ability–

1.  Be there.  Even when I can’t be physically there, I want to be available by phone so that they feel they can touch base with me at any time.  We can’t underestimate the anchor we are for our kids especially when things get a bit turbulent.

2.  Just listen.  I will do my best to not make any comparisons or connections about what it was like back then even though I may have  been through similar things and think I know how it feels.  They need their story, journey and experiences to be uniquely theirs.  

So, here’s to another school year!  They seem to be zooming past me at an ever increasing speed.  Before I know it, they will have all graduated and reality will take on a whole new meaning.  For now, I join you in another year of early rising, lunch money, permission slips, school pictures, homework, and all that comes with being a mom of school-aged kids.

All the best for a great year,

Donna Duffy