Terri Dawson- PHP of WY, Inc. Executive Director
The first nine weeks are up—-do you know how you can link learning at school to home?
The first 9 weeks of school are over, and parent/teacher conferences have either just occurred, or are happening in the next week or so. So- let’s test the water. How is your child doing? I just estimated how many parent/teacher conferences I have attended in the past 20+ years. Not counting any of my sons’ special education meetings- I have attended approximately 80 parent teacher conferences for my kids. In looking back, I have to say I enjoyed them…..but I had to prepare for them. Maybe not as much as the teacher, but certainly, I had my own list of information to gather.
Here’s what I learned from all those P/T conferences. Many times the teachers want to go over each item and grade—and I usually wasn’t as concerned about that. I typically knew most of that information from the day-to-day questions I asked my kids about their grades. What I always wanted to know was- what were they going to do next? What was the next project for Science? What book would they be reading in English or Lit class? What was the next unit in social studies and what was the target or main point of the lesson? How could I support my child at home- and support the teacher in his/her work in the classroom by discussing the topic with my kids at home? By knowing that, I felt I could help make the learning experience and/or lesson relevant to our day-to-day world.
Most of the time, I had done some pre-visiting or had discussions with my children’s teachers prior to the PT conference- since I always wanted to be prepared and not be surprised about a missed homework assignment or failed test. One of the most important questions before the PT conference was for my kids. I would ask them, “What am I going to hear from your teacher about you? What is your favorite thing about each class or teacher?” This is so I can start the conversation off with a positive comment about what my child likes about them -i.e. “Heather said she loved the project on dinosaurs last week in your class!” It’s a great conversation starter, and shows the teacher that what they have done does matter to the students- and we are paying attention.
What questions do you like to ask you teachers and/or kids for parent teacher conferences?
Ethelyn Sharpe- PEN Parent Educator out of Cheyenne
Hands down, Mrs. Rose, 4th grade, Stonegate Elementary in Bedford, Texas. She went above and beyond the curriculum…I can’t really recall what I learned academically that year (fractions? prepositions?, couldn’t really tell you), but I can recall many life lessons I learned that year. She read us “Where the Red Fern Grows” after lunch every day, and taught us that it’s okay to become emotionally involved in a story and to love books and reading. She made us all coin purses for Christmas that year and kept them in the classroom as our own personal bank account. We could deposit money with her, and she made deposits with her own money for us, and at the end of the year we all had a little spending money to take on our field trip. In doing so, she taught us how to budget and save our money. She taught us all to embroidery, had us all bring a white shirt to school, each of our classmates signed the shirt and we embroidered the signatures, teaching a craft that I still use today. We hosted a “Before School Appreciation Breakfast” for our parents and administrators, teaching us to be gracious hosts/hostesses. She ran a tight ship, but we all learned that having self-control and being organized are both much needed skills in life. In this age of technology, I have found many friends on Facebook from Mrs. Rose’s class. It’s been over 40 years since we were in that class together, and many of us still have that shirt that we embroidered, but I have a feeling that more importantly, many of us still experience the benefits of the life lessons that she taught us.
Erin Swilling- Parent Educator in Cheyenne
Last week we blogged about the difference in Wyoming in pay scale for women vs. men; being from California I am often asked why I moved here or why I am still here 18 years later. I’ve often reflected on why I like it here so much. It is very different from CA, where I spent my first 17 years of life. And if you look at some of Wyoming’s statistics it certainly could make me question why I have chosen to stay and raise my own family.
I’ve taken the last week to visit with co-workers, family and friends to get their feel of tolerance in our community. The consensus is that people are aware of the intolerance we (as women) face in pay, in minority culture, in progression and growth, etc. In visiting with a variety of people in the last week I realized that the majority of us were not born and raised here. I think times and expectations are changing. Slowly, yes. But the idea that women should command less than men in the workforce is certainly not supported among the people I have talked to.
So the question, why am I raising my own family here, needs to be looked at. It’s my goal to raise children who will help shape what tolerance not only looks like, but also change what it means. As our younger generations move up through the ranks and begin to be voices in our state, among our workforce, and throughout our lives and beyond the look and feel of Wyoming will change. I think that alone makes the teaching of tolerance in our great state an exciting and hopeful prospect. I like to think I am a part of that. And even more that my three children will continue on with that same knowledge in their attitudes, interactions and life.
Tammy Dexter- PEN Parent Educator- Riverton
As Parent as Teachers Parent Educator, I fret whether I am providing a positive influence on my families and whether I am making a difference in their lives.
Then, I recently reflected upon the positive influence that my families provide to me as an Educator. My families and their children provide a shining light during my work day.
It is so rewarding for me to go into their homes and be greeted by the children with hugs many questions and rummaging through my bag of goodies. The enthusiasm that they demonstrate for my being there and the new activities that they will be exploring is a positive reinforcement for me.
My families provide me with the opportunity of coming into their homes and experience the growth of their children with them. Parents are excited to show me what new things that their children have learned and can do, from previous visits. They have opened up their hearts and home to me.
So, I don’t know if Parents as Teachers is making a positive influence and difference in their lives, but I do know that the families and children have in mine.
Blanca Moye- Parents as Teachers Parent Educator- Jackson Area
As a new year comes, we have a new to do list and on that list should be SCREENINGS for your children. Whether it be general development screenings, vision, Audio, or Dental. It seems that every year an often forgotten screening is neglected. For example in 2008 there were a huge amount of Dental issues for young children in Wyoming. In 2009 it seemed that Vision screenings were huge, and 2010 brought the focus to Audio Screenings- so please add all of these to your 2011 goals and ensure that your children are checked for all areas.
On a personal note, I was talking with my cousin and she stated that now she doesn’t listen to music loudly whether at home or in the car. Her reasoning went beyond her children’s audio development to include being alert to her surroundings. Being able to listen for a police or ambulance siren, or if the child in the rear seat was having issues. This really made me think about her reasoning, I wonder if others agree or have other tips to remain alert in the car?