Grades open lines of communication for both parents, teachers
SIKESTON -- Mid-term grades help parents to see how their children are performing in school, but they also provide an opportunity for parents to keep the lines of communication open with teachers.
Mid-terms, or report cards reflecting a student's performance since the beginning of the school year, are circulating in the area. They were mailed Sept. 14 to parents of Morehouse Elementary students.
"As soon as parents see that mid-term grade, if there is any question about what's going on, they should contact the teacher, and together they can come up with a plan to try to get that grade up before parent-teacher conferences," said Lori Copeland, second grade teacher at Morehouse Elementary.
Mid-terms at Scott County Central were sent out recently, too.
"Parents should never be afraid to call a teacher if they have a question or concern," said Scott County Central Elementary counselor Scarlett Dittlinger. "...Those mid-quarter grades are sent out so you know what's going on."
When the school year began, Copeland said she provided parents with her planning period times and contact information.
"If they can't call during my planning time, they can call and leave a message, and I can call them back during lunch or in the afternoon," Copeland said. Most importantly, keep the school updated when phone numbers and addresses change, Dittlinger added.
Before and after viewing mid-term grades, parents should keep an open mind, Dittlinger advised.
"The goal is for both the teacher and parent to work together and cooperate for the best of child. Ask a teacher to explain why if you don't understand. Ask for a reason, and then you can understand," Dittlinger said, adding there are two sides to every story.
In addition to grades, parents can also find out other issues, if any, are going on with their child.
"You can include a message of misbehavior or low grade and explain why -- or if they've had a lot of absentees or whether they've not been paying attention in class," Copeland said.
Both Copeland and Dittlinger said mid-term grades shouldn't really come as a surprise to parents.
Copeland said anytime a student makes a low grade on something, the parents will know because she photocopies it and sends a blank page home so parents can go over the assignment again with their child. Also it has to be signed by the parent and brought back to Copeland.
"I know either they looked at it with you, or if it comes back not signed, I'm not sure any help was given," Copeland said.
Copeland also noted work receiving good grades is also sent home for parents to view.
Parent involvement and good communication between parents and teachers is vital for a child's success, Copeland said.
"This year I had a few parents contact me, and they were just concerned about the grade their child received," said Copeland, adding parent involvement varies from year to year.
There are other ways parents can keep the lines of communication open with teachers.
For example, if the school uses a daily planner (a folder containing a student's assignments), have parents check that, Dittlinger said. Along with checking daily planners, make a consistent time each night to check the child's homework or their backpack for notes from the teacher, she said. Also visit the child's classroom Web site to see what's going on.
Go to parent-teacher conferences, Dittlinger said.
"Sometimes parents only come if there's a problem," Dittlinger said. "Come regardless and talk to that teacher. Have the teacher show them some other work or get a good feel of the classroom."
It's also good for parents to get involved with parent-teacher organizations.
"That's a great way to know what's going on in school," Dittlinger said.
The parent-teacher conference is two-way communication, Dittlinger said.
"It's a great way to exchange communication and a great opportunity for teachers to learn more about students," Dittlinger said.
It also provides teachers with insight, Dittlinger said.
"There could be some reason why Johnny's sleeping in class. Well, maybe a parent will tell the teacher, 'Grandpa was in the hospital, and we've been there a lot lately,'" Dittlinger said.
It will be easier in the future if parents of elementary students start communicating well with their child's teacher now so they will have that same pattern when the child gets multiple teachers at junior high and high school, Copeland noted.
"It all comes back to communication and parent involvement. That's the key," Copeland said.