4 Often Overlooked Questions Parents Should Be Asking
By: Suzie Dalien, M.Ed.
If your child will attend or currently does attend a public school, ask a ton of questions – not just once, but on a regular basis. Public school is not the same as when we were students. It’s not even the same as when your babysitter was a student. If you have not been paying attention to changes – nationally, statewide and locally – in public education, asking these 4 questions will help you catch up (well… at least the answers will).
1. Why Can I Not Understand My Elementary Child’s Homework?
If your child is bringing home work to do that, seems easy – but is a different story once you read the instructions – it’s time to ask the teacher why this is the case. The way schools are teaching material has changed and will continue to change over the next few years. Where you were taught how to make a quick outline before writing an essay, your kids are being taught to “unpack” and “PEEL.” These methods are not without merit, but, neither is just a plain old outline. Ask your child’s teacher at the beginning of the year for a cheat sheet on how terms have changed from “borrowing” to replacing digits, unpacking, PEELing and anything else foreign that comes your way.
If you, the parent cannot understand it at first glance, something is wrong. It’s elementary school. You’ll have to keep asking – and, even when a teacher or administrator sighs in your face, don’t back down. There is nothing your child is doing in elementary school that you, the parent should not be able to understand and explain after a quick glance.
2. What Does The New SAT Mean To My Child Currently Enrolled In Highschool?
If you have a child in high school who is getting ready for the SAT you may or may not be aware of the upcoming change to the SAT test – one of the big tests high school kids take in preparation for college entrance. What you may not know is, thanks to the Common Core, the SAT is going to change dramatically in fall 2016. Listen to what the top SAT tutor in the country has to say. Skip the SAT for the first three cycles. Instead work on your child’s ACT scores. Just about every college accepts ACT as well as SAT. With the ACT you can prep your child on known tests instead of sending them in blind for a brand new SAT.
3. Who Decides What Constitutes Age-Appropriate Reading Material In Middle School?
Maturity levels vary in middle school. Some kids are ready for reading material with adult themes, others are still slightly attached to “Captain Underpants.” Ask well in advance of the school year what the reading requirements are and what selections your child’s teacher has made.
Again, familiarize yourself with the Common Core guidelines. As kids get older, the emphasis is on exposing kids to a certain kind of literature while not having them read the entire book. In fact, the bulk of reading per the Common Core trends to technical reading as kids get older. While learning to read technical literature IS a skill, is it a skill valuable enough (or special enough to focus on) that high school kids are no longer being challenged by reading a FULL work. As things stand, your kids will only have to read a few excerpts from a selection of classics. That’s right, rather than have teens struggle through Great Expectations, it’s deemed enough if they read a chapter excerpt – with no context.
4. What Accommodations Are Made For Children With Special Needs?
Unfortunately, due to severe underfunding, many special education programs have lost a ton of resources (mainly teachers). If you have a child with special needs, it’s vital to understand what accommodations the school has available for your child. If the answer is simply “not enough,” you may want to look elsewhere or perhaps put a plan in place to supplement their education on your own.
- Tutoring – Whether your decision is to keep your child in public school OR homeschool, Special Education Tutoring is a viable option for supplemental learning. When working with a special education tutor, there are 2 main options.
- Homeschooling – In the U.S., 2 Million families have made the decision to homeschool their child. If you have interest in at least exploring this option, there are thousands of available Homeschool Resources online, and hundreds of communities you can join to get real, factual information. For children with special needs, Special Education Homeschool Resources number in the thousands as well. Also, many online groups cater to specific needs such as Autism, ADHD, etc.
- The special education tutor can use the same curriculum being taught in your child’s classroom OR at home, and modify it to fit their individual learning needs.
- Allow the special education tutor to create curriculum and lesson plans based on the goals of your child. A trained special education expert will be able to determine the specific learning style and unique needs of your child, and build curriculum specific to them.
- Other Resources – The internet is packed with great Special Education Resources to assist with almost anything and everything. If you’re experiencing a challenge with your child, chances are someone has been through a similar situation in the past. Your best friend will quickly become google!
There are always questions when your child is attending school. Sadly, most parents do not have the time or patience to pursue getting their questions answered when their child attend a public school. It’s never too late. Start with your child’s teacher – they’ll give you suggestions. If that doesn’t work, go to the principal and see if you can reach a solution. Beyond that, reach out to the local school board and see if you can affect change there. (School board members are just regular people. They actually like hearing from people in their districts and helping them. Don’t be shy!)
The thing is, your child is only in school for a short time. If you are not part of improving or changing things now, you will be facing the same issues when you have grandkids! Speak up. Ask questions. Demand answers.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 30th, 2015 at and is filed under Special Education - Parents View and tagged as School System, Special Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.