NEA Parents' Resources

Crafting a Conversation With Your Child’s Educator

Once the school year is in full swing, it’s easy for things to become routine. The bagged lunches, the carpool rotation, the drop-off circle, you get really good at it all.

As this happens, however, it’s important not to get in such a routine that you aren’t staying involved in your child’s relationship with their educator. As a parent, you’re entitled to have an understanding of how your child is advancing and have a clear picture of what they can achieve during the year.

Creating a partnership with your child’s educator is essential in accomplishing this. You can carve out time to check in with your child’s educator on their academic progress and personal growth throughout the school year.

But what you should bring to the conversation? Below are some possible goals you can use as thought-starters to ensure your child is on track for success as they transition into different stages.

Kindergarten

For most children, this is the first time they are going to be in a school environment with other students. At this age, the most important qualities to focus on are social skills and independence.

Participating in school activities, interacting with students, and listening to their educators are key development benchmarks for children entering grade school. When speaking with your child’s educator, find out if they are following classroom rules, being attentive, and cooperating well with others.

Elementary School

At this point in a student’s academic journey, they have started to gain a better understanding of their surroundings, their family and themselves. The decisions they make now have more of an impact on their future actions.

Reading and comprehending text are essential as your child moves through elementary school, as it will set the foundation for the future. Talk to your child’s educator to see if they are reading at grade level.

In the later years of elementary school, students should be able to understand and discuss what they are reading. According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, your child should be able to identify key ideas and details of a story; identify characters, settings, and major events; understand the central message of a story; identify the parts of a story, like the introduction and conclusion; and understand implied meanings that are not explicitly stated.

In addition, basic mathematical skills are also key at this stage. By the end of elementary school, your child should be able to count by 1s, 5s, and 10s; write numbers; understand place values; understand and work with decimals and fractions.

Middle School

By age 12 or 13, your child has entered a completely new world. Different educators for different subjects, moving between classrooms for different periods, and lots of new faces. At this point in their academic career, it’s important to stress time management skills.

Likewise, the kind of dialogue you have with your child’s educators will be quite different, given the fact that students have multiple educators and your child’s level of engagement may vary by topic. For specific class subject inquiries, be sure to schedule individual meetings. For advice on what kind of goals you want to create with student educators, look at the class syllabi.

High School

The last four years of grade school are vital in shaping your child’s future. In ninth grade, the conversation around career paths comes up, and they will soon be paired with an academic advisor or guidance counselor to get them thinking about the future.

Finding time to map out goals with this educator can be beneficial. Thinking about postgraduate paths, scholarship opportunities, and national exams can ease some of your stress about your child’s future. You can find more information on specific questions to ask here.

Mapping out goals with your child’s educator is a great way to take a proactive stance in your child’s life, but you should not forget to include them in the dialogue. Always ask your child how their school day went and what kind of activities they completed. Be a key supporter in your child’s network to ensure they are their best selves at school. A good combination of at-home and in-school attention can create a successful path for academic growth.

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