In middle school your child will be busier than ever, and your parent involvement is increasingly important. It will be a challenge to keep her organized and figure out ways to fit in family reading time.
Parent Involvement: Connect With Teachers
The first step to parent involvement is knowing your child's teachers. Ask about the best time to meet with them, and be ready to share what you know about how your child learns best. This is particularly important if she has specific learning needs. For example, a student who has trouble with writing or note-taking can benefit from being allowed to use a laptop or the classroom computer. A dyslexic child will benefit from books on tape.
Another essential step in parent involvement is attending the school's Parent's Night, where you should ask each subject teacher to share advice on managing your child's increasing workload. But stay in touch with teachers all year long.
Parent Involvement: Questions to ask:
- What study skills are you teaching, and how should I reinforce these at home?
- How should students be keeping track of assignments?
- How many hours a day should my child be spending on homework?
- Should I be correcting homework assignments?
Parent Involvement: What to do if there's a problem:
- By now, most reading and learning disabilities are likely to have been diagnosed. Children who have been identified as having reading disabilities will already have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) detailing the educational accommodations needed. If your child has an IEP, meet with the school’s child-study team to determine if there are additional accommodations that may help him compensate for his reading difficulties.
If your child has not been diagnosed with a learning disability but still seems to be struggling to comprehend what he's reading, talk to his teachers, the school reading specialist, and the guidance counselor for suggestions on what remedial instruction and other extra help is available.
Parent Involvement: Get Involved at School
Many middle schools have extracurricular activities and special events that promote reading and literacy and that welcome parent involvement. Research what's available, and encourage your child to join one that suits her interests. Then find out how you can lend a hand. Maybe you can help proofread the school newspaper or literary magazine.
Things to Do at Home
- Keep your student organized: It's helpful to hang a weekly schedule on the fridge to keep track of upcoming tests and project due-dates. At the end of each week, go through your kids’ binders and file away tests and past assignments in an accordion folder.
- Preserve reading rituals: Get creative about snatching read-aloud time. At breakfast, read your sports fan an account of last night's game. Before you head to a movie, review what the critics said about it. Encourage your child to read to you too. Maybe she'll want to quiz you from a movie trivia book or read you portions of an interview with her favorite star.
- Squeeze in book talk: Ask your child about what he's reading. If it's a book you read in school, share how you felt about it.