Rick Lovett

Rick Lovett

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Questions Parents Should Ask Teachers

With the kiddo's getting back to school, it would be good to have an idea of what their teacher's have planned for the year and what you can to ensure your child has a good solid learning experience.

Questions such as, “How are you teaching my kid to read?”—can elicit incomprehensible talk of “decoding,” “social and emotional well-being,” “data-driven instruction,” “personalization,” “equity-infused approaches,” and more. It can be tough to know if your child is in good hands.

Trying to get helpful answers can be so tough because professionals like their jargon; it makes them sound authoritative. Meanwhile, experienced teachers or principals have a wealth of expertise that isn’t always easy to translate to a parent. Bottom line: It’s not always easy to interpret what educators mean when they start talking about instruction.

What can you as a parent do about that? Well, try posing these ten questions. They demand straightforward answers. The answers say a lot about how schools are approaching their post-pandemic routine. And it turns out to be pretty easy to tell whether someone has given much thought to these queries—which, frequently, will tell you all you need to know.

  1. What’s the best thing my child is going to read this year?
  2. What one value is at the heart of our school’s culture, and how does that show up on a daily basis?
  3. On a typical day, how much time will be spent on morning announcements, attendance-taking, and standing in lines?
  4. How will you know if my child is bored to tears and, if that happens, what’s your usual response?
  5. What’s the one paper, project, or unit that I should really expect my student to come home excited about?
  6. In a typical month, how many hours will be devoted to tests and test preparation?
  7. What was the most serious disciplinary issue at school last year, and how was it addressed?
  8. How frequently should I expect to hear updates about how my child is doing?
  9. If I email with a question or concern, how quickly should I expect to hear back?
  10. What’s the most important thing I can do to help my child be academically successful this year?

The answers will shed light on school routines, how teachers and principals think about engaging young minds, and whether the school is serious about partnering with parents. They offer some sense as to whether school staff will talk candidly about thorny challenges—and if they’ve got practical thoughts on dealing with them.

If you get sensible, direct answers, it’s a promising sign that you’re in capable hands. If you get blank looks, hollow assurances, or gauzy generalities, that’s a useful caution. Whatever the answers, you’ll have a better sense of what’s ahead.

Hope you and your kids have a happy and productive 2022-2023 school year.

Worker teaching class in nutrition store

Photo: Getty Images


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