It has been more than a decade since the first large-scale one-to-one technology initiative was launched in Maine. That program, which put laptops in the hands of every public school student in the state, represented a major shift in the manner in which students learn. Recognizing the growing value of technology, particularly the Internet as an educational tool, the program opened doors for students to learn that otherwise would not have been available. For the first time, students could easily expand their learning time beyond the boundaries of their classroom and regular school day.
Yet, as children learned to utilize technology for educational purposes, the non-educational aspects of technology began to become more prominent. Gone are the days when a laptop was used to type a report or to access an online encyclopedia for research. Now, children have thousands of online distractions from YouTube videos to games to apps that allow them to chat, text, and share pictures with their friends.
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All this makes it more difficult for parents to manage what their children utilize their technology to do. However, there are steps parents can take to ensure their child utilizes technology for learning first and fun second.
Set Rules and Stick to Them
Establishing rules can go a long way in helping your child define the boundaries of their use of technology. One of your first rules should be that your child utilizes technology only while in your presence. Whether working on a research paper for class, reading an online textbook, or playing games, it will be much easier for you to exercise control when your child is in the same room with you. As your child ages, these restrictions might change, but to promote smart use of technology, start them out with clear boundaries of where they can and cannot use their devices.
Also consider creating a daily schedule that outlines when your child needs to be working . . . read more
Parent-teacher conferences can be a bit unnerving for parents regardless of how many times they’ve attended. It can be difficult to cover all the questions you have in a short period of time, and you may even leave the conference feeling like you weren’t able to accomplish much. However, there are practical steps you can take before, during, and after parent-teacher conferences to ensure you have all the information you need to support your child’s learning.
Before the Conference
Parent-teacher conferences are often set up such that parents have precious little time with each teacher, in many cases 10-15 minutes at the absolute most. In order to get the most out of your appointment, come to the conference prepared. Begin by reviewing your child’s grades beforehand, including their report card, any progress reports, work your child has brought home, and any comments your child’s teacher has made on his or her homework. Gathering as much information as you can ahead of time will allow you to formulate questions to ask your child’s teacher and be ready to dive into the discussion once your appointment time arrives. Some possible questions to ask include:
- Is my child performing at grade level?
- What are my child’s strengths? Weaknesses?
- What can my child do to improve academically?
- What can I do to help my child improve academically?
It’s important to be prepared whether your child is doing well or poorly. On the one hand, if your child is struggling you’ll need to be familiar with why this is so, and examining his or her work can give you some insight into those reasons. It also allows you to be more informed ahead of time so you can ask your child’s teacher specific questions with regard to how to most effectively help your child boost his or her achievement. Conversely, being prepared when your child is performing well will allow you to utilize your appointment time to inquire about extended learning opportunities, such as clubs or organizations, or other non-grade issues such as behavior or relationships with other . . . read more
“The teacher is always the first go-to person, especially with questions about curriculum,” VanZant explained. Teachers can also be the best contact for questions about discipline, behavior and social issues, unless another school employee is specifically appointed for this purpose. For example, Greenwood Elementary has a parent liaison that is specially trained to work with parents on these matters.
- Changes to school structure, including more teachers, larger school building and faster pace
- Changes to body image, as students begin attending school with others who are basically young adults
- Changes in friends, as students head to different schools and different classes than those they grew up with
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