My Child's School
My Child's School
Harvey Hoyo (President, California School Counselors Association) gives expert video advice on: What do I need to know about the safety practices and procedures at my child's school?; What are my legal rights as the parent of a student? and more...
Why should I ask my child's teacher about her 'learning style'?
It's important for a parent to have that conversation with the classroom teacher. Often times classroom teachers like to reach all children and they sort of satisfy or they try to do that in a general kind of way. What we find is that kids learn differently: Some are “Kinesthetic” learners; they need to move when they learn. Some are “Visual” learner; they need to see things. Some are “Auditory” where they need to really hear the instructions. We know from research teachers teach in modality in which they are comfortable. So for a parent to have that kind of conversation will open up some doors for the instructor gives the message to the parents understands about learning style. More importantly it will help that parent focus on the learning style of his or her students and that will bring up the academic level for everybody in the classroom.
What do I need to know about the safety practices and procedures at my child's school?
In most states, they are mandated by law. There has to be a program that is already established at the school site to account for emergencies of all types, from an intruder on campus to drugs on campus to stray dogs on campus. It needs to be documented. Some states don't have that mandate but school boards do, or at least effective principals understand that you have to have an emergency plan. A good parent needs to find out what that plan is, and how can that parent support that plan. So, you ask that question to the classroom teacher, you ask that question to the school counselor, the assistant principal, or the principal. Be involved in perhaps developing or fine-tuning that plan, because every three years you need to re-look at it, because the culture of the school may change a little bit, depending on where you are.
What can I do if my child's school isn't prepared for an emergency?
I think what you need to do is talk to the principal to find out what the issues are in terms of lack of preparation and find out whatever those issues are, how you can be involved either through the PTA. If, for example, there is not enough water available for emergencies, OK, that can be a task for the PTA to fix. If they don't have a procedure for an intruder on campus, a campus lockdown as it is called in many schools, that would be easy to establish. You just need to find out what the procedures are from other schools as a parent and then bring those to the school principal, develop a committee and then seek to resolve those issues. Basically, talk to somebody at the school, perhaps a principal would be the best source as a parent.
What should I do if there's been a traumatic event at my child's school?
When there is a traumatic event at your youngster's school, it's really important that you find out the details of what that is. If there's not a letter coming home, then a phone call to the school's secretary is essential so that you can find out. Oftentimes, there's a debrief meeting. Be involved in that so that you find out how to support the youngster. If there are school counselors available, they'll be there to provide extra services to the youngster. A good parent has to find out what those services are, and sort of match that with the needs of the youngster. Perhaps the youngster needs to take advantage of those services, or perhaps not. Perhaps the parent can ease the tension for the youngster, based on whatever the trauma is.
As the parent of a student, what are my legal responsibilities?
Basically, you have a couple of legal responsibilties as a parent. One, your immunizations need to be recorded and updated routinely.That is state law and also district policy. Routine attendance is more of a factor. Immunizations are pretty cut and dry but to make sure that little Johnny attends school routinely, regularly is really important. Sometimes there's asthma issues. There's health issues. Parents have to balance that but basically the schools can't do their job if Johnny is not present at the school and that involves his attendance and his participation in the lessons. So, it's also a parent responsibility to make sure that he actively participates in the learning that's going on in the school and takes advantage of all the other support services that are available. And I think that's the third point and that's equally as important as routine attendance. You don't want him to be a lump. You want him to be actively engaged. You can help with that as a parent.
What are my legal rights as the parent of a student?
There's really two levels that you have. One would be to find out about your student in general and how your student is progressing academically and socially. Oftentimes that's done with parent-teacher conferences and report cards of one type or another. There's usually a timeline when those reports come out. The other level of involvement is looking at the school as a total. So that you get a sense of where the school is scoring--let's say--academically with other schools in the state or in the district or perhaps in the immediate vicinity. That's your right as a parent. Those scores are available through your principal or through the state website.You need to be aware of those two levels.
How traumatic will it be if I move my child to a new school?
If you are moving your child to a new school, oftentimes it can be very be traumatic. It can be traumatic because the instructional program may be slightly different. It may be traumatic because the teacher is slightly different. Depending on the developmental age of your youngster, tends to be more dramatic and a crisis in the early stages of elementary school than later as the child progresses, however, a lot depends on the child. I've seen cases at the middle school or high school where the youngster goes into trauma because, for example, at the high school level, they will not be graduating with their fellow seniors. So if at all possible, you want to move, if you have to move, during natural periods like perhaps summer vacation. That eases the trauma.