Parent engagement

July 22, 2009

I'm going to be wearing a new hat at our elementary school: President of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). I'm sure it's going to be great, and provide me with experiences I wouldn't otherwise have. I hope to share the highs and lows in some of my future blog posts; please chime in with wisdom and wit! Right now, the work is just a bunch of administrative things to get us ready for the...

May 18, 2009

In last week's blog post, I wrote about the research on access to books for kids in poverty. In short: all kids, but especially kids from lower-income households, need access to books over the summer. If there are no books laying around to read, it's unlikely that a child will lay around to read....

April 29, 2009

The end of the school year usually means one thing for kids: TESTS! In Virginia, our 3rd and 5th graders are gearing up to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Other grade levels are preparing for end of unit tests, spelling tests, math chapter tests, tests to inform placements for next year, and tests just because teachers like to grade (just kidding).

As the Mom of a...

December 2, 2008

Thanks for your feedback on the report card comment two weeks ago. Your comments highlighted the need for balance between the need to provide parent-friendly information with the need to provide accurate, research-based information. In a perfect world, a good comment would do both.

I admire...

October 7, 2008

Raising money is hard work, and our PTO's really feeling it. It's a combination of our fall fundraiser not doing as well as we hoped, and our considering postponing the spring fundraiser because of the financial pinch we all feel. It seems like every fundraiser goes back into the pocketbook of our school families. It might be time to take a break.

The money we raise as a PTO is used for...

August 26, 2008

Those were the first sentences out of Anna's mouth when she read her teacher assignment for this year. Out of 20 classroom teachers at our school, there's exactly one male teacher. He teaches first grade, and Anna got him!

She's thrilled, of course. All the kids know Mr. B. All the parents love him. "Gentle giant," they say. "A real calm presence." Sounds good to me. I'll let you know...

August 20, 2008

My friend Kathy has a son with mild to moderate disabilities. Henry is going into third grade this year, and I just got an email from her:

"Back to school" has special meaning for Henry. Transitions are tough for him, so these first few weeks of getting adjusted are hard for everyone. I know things will eventually settle down, but I wish these this time of year could be easier. So...

July 23, 2008

Molly, Anna, and I went shopping for school supplies yesterday. It's always a bit of a giddy shopping trip; choosing which color for the composition book, 16 or 24 box of crayons, Elmer's or Rose's glue…getting to buy colored pencils…oh my! We were there for at least an hour.

Total cost: $47.00 for two kids.

The trip reminded me of my own teaching days when I'd make my late...

April 2, 2008

I blogged about reading logs back in August, when Molly was just getting started with a daily homework assignment to read and respond every day after school. The title of that post, Reading Logs, Reading Blahs pretty much sums up the way I feel about reading logs. Your...

March 18, 2008

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

March 4, 2008

One of my blog posts that got people talking was the one about our decision to enroll Anna in kindergarten as a 5 year old (rather than waiting until she turned 6). Both our girls have summer birthdays; we waited to send our older daughter, but wrestled with the same decision for our younger...

February 5, 2008

I heard that expression for the first time when my mom was teaching me to drive. She has a bit of a lead foot, and had gotten a spate of speeding tickets when I was a teenager. The new driver that I was, I stepped on the gas to reach the speed limit as quickly as possible. She turned to me and said, "Do as I say, not as I do, especially when it comes to driving!"

I find myself using...

November 29, 2007

I've started thinking about holiday gifts for the girls' teachers. Here are a few of my ideas so far...I'm trying to keep it practical and useful.

A gift certificate to Barnes & Noble: For kids' books, or for the teachers' own enjoyment! What could be better than a latte and a good book? I just finished this,and it was great (long...but very...

September 26, 2007

We get lots of questions through our Ask the Expert service. Occasionally I'll post a question here in hopes of reaching a wider audience. Feel free to chime in with your own additions to my answer! If you're like me, you'll find yourself wanting to write a dissertation for each one.

Question: My 6...

September 5, 2007

No, this isn't a lecture aimed at teenagers. It's a plea to teachers: Talk to your parents!

You're back to school by now, and we parents are at home, hungry for details about what's going on with our child. Try as they might, our kids just don't say enough about their day at school.

When is library day? Should I send a snack every day? Can I come in...

August 29, 2007

Many of us are back to school by now. And for most of us, that means daily reading logs, where a parent signs a log each night confirming that her child has read at home that day. For us, we're on day five, and we're already a little bored.

In the spirit of starting the year off on the right foot, here are a few ideas (hopes? hints?) for teachers and parents that may make reading logs...

August 22, 2007

Anna, our "five-year-old-summer-birthday-girl-and-second-born" daughter started kindergarten today. I first wroteabout the subject of kindergarten with summer birthdays last January during preschool re-enrollment. I questioned sending her; Miss K., our preschool teacher, never had a doubt in her mind. Anna would go....

August 15, 2007

We got our letters yesterday that let us know which teachers our kids will have this year. Anna, our rising kindergartener, got the same teacher Molly had, and we're thrilled. She's a fabulous teacher — she's nurturing, smart, and runs her classroom so smoothly that it's tough to believe there are actually 14–16 five- and six-year-olds in it.

I don't recognize the name of Molly's...

April 10, 2007

Molly brought home her kindergarten report card yesterday. I completely skipped over the grades section, and went right to the teacher comments, written by Molly's teacher.

As a teacher, I remember when we shifted from hand-written report cards to computer generated ones. We bubbled grades for achievement and effort in each area, and chose narrative comments from a list provided by the...

January 18, 2007

I knew it was coming — re-enrollment time at preschool. Top of the form, first question: Will your child be going to kindergarten next year? Our answer: UGH!! We can't decide!

Anna (our younger daughter) turns five in early July. In Virginia, the kindergarten cut off date is September 30, so she...

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"I'm wondering what to read next." — Matilda, Roald Dahl