Privacy and Policy
School is a public place be it a private institution or a member of a public board- it is not “Las Vegas”, and this is a good thing. This means that parental involvement can be encouraged beginning with the principal who sets the tone, and continuing through the teachers and on to the students who ought to happily or disgruntledly, depending on a day’s adventure, share the news of the time spent in the institution. Imagine, spending 12, 13, or even 14 years depending on when a child began in a more formal learning environment and how that learning environment impacts on all the growth and development to come.
So when parents ask what do I look for in a learning space; openness is one of my main points on a checklist – was the principal prepared to take time to offer a tour of the space? Did the principal book an appointment and follow through with genuine interest in you and your child when as parent you asked questions about both the curriculum and the social aspects of the learning environment? Has the teacher allowed you to inquire directly about your expectations for the school academic program, and provided a relatively clear outline – do please allow for teaching moments, that teachers may indeed respond directly and appropriately when the students in the room surprise and please, with comments and active participation in the projects or other curriculum actions-an outline that will allow you as parent to also become curious about the learning that is expected to be covered in an academic year.
And if visiting a school when the programs are already in service, I listen. Total silence may mean exam/testing time, otherwise it is an odd thing to expect within a school. I like hearing the hum of student inquiry, the murmur that at times may mimic Katy Perry’s “Roar” and, laughter is always good. Children who are comfortable, communicate.
Middle School sets its own demands; notice the entrance to the building, and the amount of students in class, not the hallways, once a bell has rung. At some schools hallways are used as extra classroom space; this is fine when the school entrance way is monitored- unfortunately in today’s environment, schools do need to be aware of who is entering or exiting a premise, and in some institutions no loitering in the hallways is permitted due to safety precautions. At other institutions the hallway monitors have become not merely a fixture of the place, but a very welcome and responded to, resource. These adjunct staff are there as friendly reminders that the school is a safe space, and for the child who must return to a locker mid period, or use the washroom, knowing that hall monitors move up and down throughout the building may provide an additional sense of welcome and subliminal comfort.
High School creates new challenges! So many choices and a new type of pressure- which whether parent or child, we all seem to absorb. And even if logical thinking reminds one that the future is really not totally determined by the activities chosen in High School it is doubtful we will be able to totally convince a teen of this. Media does add to this pressure; high school becomes a microcosm of “life”. The kids though, do still need and benefit from all levels of parental awareness; ask questions of the academic type before your child begins- and don’t be afraid to question a school’s suggested template for your child. Applied versus academic- why? Full year courses versus a semester program, how will this possibly challenge (positively or negatively) your child- some students in semester programs go a full calendar year between undertaking classes- for example, a September to February class in English etc. in grade 9 followed by a February to June class in English during the grade 10 year has left a large, full calendar year, gap – imagine! One reads about the summer time slump- and that is only two months outside of full class programming! 14-18 year olds only appear independent; they still require a near magical dance on the part of the parents to weave together the combinatory goals of healthy mind and body which are rapidly developing during these High School years.
Home and School; a dynamic combination; sharing resources; growing = a healthy future.
This article first appeared on Together Academics, learning skills with Ali
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As always, best regards,