Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week 5: The School Year's First Progress Report (week of 9/23/16)

Time sure is flying this year. I can't believe that we're already halfway through our first quarter!

Soon, progress reports will be mailed home. They're exactly what they sound like, a report of your son or daughter's progress in their classes so far. Progress reports aren't official and won't appear on any transcript; they serve as a "heads up" for those students and parents who aren't checking PowerSchool regularly. Hopefully, you'll see no surprises. Again, I strongly suggest checking in on PowerSchool at least once every week to ensure that assignments are turned in while they're still relevant. There's even an app for your phone that keeps you logged in constantly, so easy! Remember, the most important tool for student success in middle school is the parent-teacher-student triad. We must all work together in order to ensure success. Please don't hesitate to talk with your son or daughter about missing assignments or low scores (I'm always happy to discuss these as well, but please speak with them first).

As we talked about at Back to School Night and in previous blog posts, middle school is the time for your son or daughter to start testing the waters, so to speak, in regards to autonomy and responsibility. Middle school is safe and a good portion of teachers are willing to work with students to help them be successful. I was reading an article the other day that pretty much sums up the advice I was going to give you at this point in the school year. Titled "The Homework Helper", Educational Therapist Janel A. Umfress offers some tips and tricks to help your son or daughter find success in middle school:

Have Supplies at the Ready: “First off, make sure supplies—pens, pencils, paper, scissors—are easily accessible. That way, your child can do the task efficiently and effectively without any distractions.”

Plan it Out: “Oftentimes children get overwhelmed when they have numerous different assignments. Helping them prioritize their work and think about how much time each will take can tremendously smooth out the process. Just remember: It’s important to allow them to choose which assignment they want to get started on first—that way they’ll learn the importance of making their own decisions.”

Know When to Help: “In terms of how involved you should be in your child’s assignment, think of it like teaching them to ride a bike. You’re right there behind them if they fall, but you’re letting them do all the work until that happens. If you’re too present as a parent, your kid will get to thinking they can’t do the work without your help.”

Homework is Life: “Helping your child put their schoolwork into context—i.e., applying the lesson at hand to something they know really well, like their favorite outdoor activity or game—is a huge motivator. Plus, learning things that can be applied to the real world is the whole point of getting an education, isn’t it?”

Patience is Key: “It’s important to realize that when a kid says, ‘I can’t do it,’ it could mean they can’t do it in that moment. It’s easy to feel your kid is being oppositional or lazy, but sometimes they just need a soft nudge. Those are the best times to step in and lend a hand.”

Take a Break: “If your child is getting frustrated, take a short break. Down time, whether that be reading a book or playing outside, really encourages creativity. Though, I would recommend staying away from phones and computers, as they can be seriously distracting to a child trying to get their work done.”

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. Who is your favorite character from a book? What makes them your favorite character?
2. What are this week's five academic vocabulary words? Use them correctly in a sentence.
3. What is the STEAL method when we're talking about characterization? Which one do you think is the most important and why?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

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