Parent Teacher Interview Blues
There are two times during the year, that give me the parental blues pretty badly and they coincide with the parent teacher interview and the report card. My eldest is my only school aged kid. She is funny and creative. She is a whizz with technology, and finds nature in all forms fascinating. She can build anything out of paper and cellotape. Academically though, she is performing at that dreaded “below”.
So while everyone crows about their own child’s brilliance on the sport fields or in this or that test, I do find myself slipping into the blues. I know she is a hard worker in the class room. I also know the effort doesn’t always translate to the outcome. Her brilliance can’t be measured in the way the standards require. This means two things for us. Firstly, she may always struggle with testing; and secondly we need to support her and the school towards her personal goals.
For parents like us, parent teacher interviews can be about several things. You want to create a supportive relationship with the teacher, so that they know you want to help. Ask the teacher what things may be getting in the way of the academic stuff. This term some of the things for us were a sudden aversion to the science topic (frogs) as well as a concern about the contents of her lunchbox (a child with an allergy started at school and suddenly my daughter doesn’t trust that her food is safe to have around this child). Our meeting with the teacher let us talk through some of those things and offer ideas and suggestions.
We could also gauge how much “extra” work might be required at home to help support the learning. Our teacher was happy to discuss homework with us and relieved that we were on the same page. We now know that sometimes class work will come home if it can’t be completed on time and the teacher knows that we will gently, but firmly, make sure it gets done.
If something stressful was happening at home, we could have mentioned that to the teacher as well. Remember that even the big exciting fun stuff can be a little stressful for a kid. We exchanged contact details and made sure the teacher was comfortable emailing us whenever she felt the need. Most of the time we get really positive messages about neat things our daughter has done. Sometimes the email is about a challenge that has cropped up, and if we have had it at home or in the past. It’s great to be able to work through that stuff together.
Lastly, it’s important to me to not be a helicopter parent. But it’s hard to let go and let her fall on occasion. My daughter has some challenges that mean that failure affects her more deeply than other kids. She doesn’t bounce quite as easily. So sometimes I will grit my teeth and watch the train wreck from the sidelines but most of the time I have to get in and be a part of the team.
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