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Friday, 26 January 2018 07:31

Understanding the questions asked at Teacher and Parenting Meetings: Part One

Reviewing and understanding the questions:

- the benefits of the right answers

Part one

A follow on from ‘What to ask Teachers and Professionals during Meetings’

The responses and communications received about ‘What to ask Teachers and Professionals during Meetings’ show that the questions are clear but the understanding of what answers to expect is more complex. The value of these questions is how the answers address the concerns you may have or the knowledge you may wish to gain to support your child. Therefore, the article to ‘Understanding the Questions to ask at Teacher and Professional Meetings’ arose.

If you have not read ‘What to ask Teachers and Professionals during Meetings’ please take a moment to read this article first.

Reviewing and understanding the questions: the benefits of the right answers

Questions 1 – 5

1. What does my child enjoy?

  • This question is to establish your child’s strengths and predilections. These are useful tools for building self-esteem and developing character as well as a medium to teach the concepts and skills your child finds challenging.
  • Its value is to show positive, supportive and encouraging information about your child.

2. Who are my child’s friends? How is she/he socially? Interactions and communication? Is she/he liked by her/his peers?

  • Your child’s social and personal life directly impacts their involvement at school. Social life does not refer to the popularity of a child but rather to their relationships with other children. A child may not be the most popular child but have incredibly healthy and functional relationships with the children at their school. A popular child does not necessarily mean the child’s relationships are beneficial to them nor that they have strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • The type of friends your child ‘hangs out’ with will also influence their behaviors and interactions with others. However, be careful of judging your child based on the children with whom they associate. Your child may be assisting and making a difference in that ‘problem child’s’ life. They may be learning invaluable skills. What parents should focus on is whether the relationship is placing peer pressure on your child and your child is ‘giving in’ to that peer pressure. A child should have the self-esteem to stand their ground.
  • Communication and interaction are crucial. Your child’s ability to communicate outside of their social network is important. A child should be able to express themselves in different environments. Communication and interaction are not about whether your child is an extrovert or an introvert. An extroverted child finds it easy to start conversations or initiate communications but may have very poor interaction skills, they may be able to ‘voice’ themselves but express themselves negatively by being too dominating (not taking time to listen to others) or saying things that are hurtful without realizing it. An introverted child is entitled to be quieter they do not have to talk according to our expectations but they must be able to express themselves when necessary and stand up for themselves. They also tend to be good listeners. Each child has different assets.

3. What are my child’s strengths and what are my child’s differences (socially, emotionally, physically and mentally)?

  • Socially – how does your child add value to the school setting and how do they participate. Are they able to navigate difficult social situations? Are they able to introduce themselves? Are they the child that takes the initiative? Are they the empathetic child who notices when their peers are depressed, sad, angry or happy? If so, do they know how to respond?
  • Emotionally – how your child handles a variety of emotions. Do they express their anger appropriately? Can they celebrate their success without being boastful? What is their self-esteem level? Are they confident?
  • Physically – their sporting ability, their general movement / kinesthetic abilities, their ability to keep their bodies healthy and to look after themselves (hygiene included). Children who have obviously different physical traits (the larger/smaller children, children with physical disabilities and children with physical characteristics that separate them from the ‘norm’ (glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs) find this quite challenging. How do they manage their differences? A side note, do not forget the invisible illnesses like arthritis, Dyspraxia or other disabilities that may fall under physical development.
  • Mentally – this area is very important for children on the opposing sides of the spectrum. This means children with learning differences, whether it be difficulty in learning or accelerated learning, that separates them from their peers. Gifted and learning challenged individuals tend to be the children who struggle because of their accelerated mental development or their learning barriers. The asynchronicity directly impacts their social life. For example, a gifted child may be rejected by their peers as their peers find it difficult to relate to them, a child with ADHD may find social interactions difficult because they struggle with impulse control and a child with dyslexia may be ridiculed and marked as ‘stupid’. These children not only need assistance with regards to academic development but socially as well. The academic and social assistance given will vary as it is based on the child’s need.
  • It is important to remember that all of these areas interlink and do influence each other. Remember to look at the holistic picture and not just at the specific facts – be careful of focussing too much on the concerns and not the bigger picture.

4. What value does my child bring to the class/sessions?

  • It is invaluable to know what your child brings to the class or sessions. Your child would benefit from knowing what they can give. It allows them to know that they have a role and can add value. If the professional is unable to identify a quality I strongly advise you that you find a quality. Your child would benefit by learning what they can bring to the situation and work on developing that attribute together.

5. Are there areas in which my child shows a particular interest or possible talent?

  • Not every child has an exceptional talent and this is OK. It is our uniqueness that builds character and makes your child special. It is important to understand that any interests are key to learning. There may be other children who excel beyond or meet your child’s performance. However, this does not mean that you neglect this area, in fact, it is of the utmost importance that the professional, your child and you work on developing these traits. It is a life skill to learn that even though we are stronger in certain areas that there will always be others who excel beyond our current abilities.
  • The important reason behind this question is that talents and interests can be used to promote the areas your child finds challenging by appealing to their strengths and interests. Never undervalue the influence strengths can have when it comes to assisting weaknesses.

In conclusion, children learn important life skills when they are aware of their challenges and strengths. Understanding that there will be performance differences between them and their peers. To be able to acknowledge when others achieve and not ‘punish’ themselves for not ‘being the best’ but rather learn from it.

You win or you learn but you NEVER lose

Understanding the questions asked at Teacher and Parent Meetings: Part Two