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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

What Parents Must Do Before the School Year Ends

There  are  several things parents should do  before  school

officially ends for the summer.

If your child comes home with a final report card indicating

that he has failed something or is deficient in some way, now  is

the time to go to school, preferably with the child, to determine

what action can be taken so his work will improve next year.   It

is not enough for a school to indicate failure without indicating

that it has some plan for next year to help the child to succeed. <

At a meeting, you, your child and the teacher should look at

his past work and his test scores in order to determine where  he

is  deficient.  If your child has low scores in reading and  math

on school-wide standardized achievement tests, you might ask that

he be given a diagnostic test to further pinpoint the difficulty.

The number of questions on the standardized achievement tests are

too few to really identify the problem.

If  the decision is made that tutoring would be helpful,  it

is  best  to do this toward the end of the  summer,  just  before

school  opens  again.   Do not get just any tutor.   Look  for  a

capable,  experienced tutor and ask for references.   The  school

might  have  recommendations.  Sometimes there  is  an  excellent

teacher on the staff who does tutoring in the summer or a retired

teacher for year-round help.  Often a child’s underlying  problem

is  deficiency  in  reading and his other problems  may  just  be

symptoms  of this.  With the school’s help, find out if  this  is                      

the case and choose the tutor accordingly.  It is important  that

the tutor works well with your child and that your child does not

view it as punishment.  Otherwise, he will never learn.  When you

engage a tutor, you should know what she hopes to accomplish  and

If  your child is going from elementary to middle school  or

middle  school  to high school, now is the time to  look  at  his

cumulative  record  folder.  You want to know  what  records  and

comments  are  going  to follow him.  If you  disagree  with  the

comments, ask that they be deleted.  Most comments tell you  more

about the writer than the child.   If you feel the record is very

negative,   you   might  want  to  add  some  of   your   child`s

accomplishments  that maybe the school knows nothing about.   For

example,  he  is a wonderful musician, he acts in plays,  he  can

organize  his friends to go on trips, he does community  service.

If  your child is a slow starter, you might want to ask  the

teacher he will have next year to suggest some summer  activities

which  will  enhance  his learning or  spur  his  interest.   For

example,  if they are going to study American Indians, you  could

take him to the museum or incorporate a trip to a reservation  as

part of your summer vacation.  This does not mean that you  spend

the  summer doing school-type activities–workbooks, etc. If  you

do,  he  will be so tired of school he will not want to  go  back

next September.

If  your child is going to start school next September as  a

kindergartner,  he  may be given a kindergarten  screening  test.

Ideally,  the  results  of this test should be  used  to  plan  a

program appropriate to your child.  If that is not the case,  you

might want to ask how the results are to be used.

If you have a son who the school system says, as a result of

this test, is not developmentally ready to do the  pre-determined

curriculum,  you might consider waiting  a year thus  giving  him

time  to develop so that he can be successful.  These   tests  do

not  measure  intelligence  and you have in no way  failed  as  a

parent.  Your child will get there eventually and successfully if

you and the rest of the world allow him to follow his own  unique

rate of progress.

The  most important thing to remember is that you  are  your

child’s  advocate.   And as his best friend, look forward  to  an

enjoyable summer.

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