Ask the Teacher

My child’s teacher said she will have volunteer sign-ups at the open house on the evening before school starts. I love the idea of helping with my second grader’s school parties, but I have two preschoolers who go everywhere with me. Is it alright for me to take them along to the second grade parties?

One of the benefits of helping with a school party is being able to give your undivided attention toward your son or daughter. That time provides an opportunity for a unique, shared experience that is difficult to have when younger siblings that require supervision are present.

In addition to creating a special shared experience, helping with a party allows you to get a glimpse of your child’s classmates and a sense of how your child interacts with them. You also have an opportunity to get acquainted with other parents. Although dividing your attention between your party responsibilities and your preschoolers would allow you to be in attendance and to be helpful, some of the most important aspects of being there would be diminished.

A great solution to this dilemma is to find another parent who faces the same challenge so that you can trade caring for preschoolers and volunteering at school. To find a good fit, ask your child’s teacher for the name of a parent who may be in your situation. If she doesn’t know of another family with young children who might be interested in swapping childcare, check in with the school secretary who often has great insights into the various families within a school or even possibly in your neighborhood that you might be able to connect with.


My son is starting middle school and will have access to a computer all day. A lot of his homework will be done on the computer as well. At the parent meeting, the teachers all stressed the importance of parents checking their children’s use of social media. Our son is completely trustworthy. Is this monitoring really necessary?

There isn’t a single greater responsibility of a parent raising a child in today’s technology-rich environment than to monitor his or her use of not only social media but all Internet use. This is not a question of being able to trust your child as much as it is your need to protect him from being exposed to material that could potentially be very damaging. The convergence of technology access, peer pressure and a child’s natural curiosity means your constant attention is required to head off potential problems.

Begin by determining what filters you want in place for your in-home Internet. The school will have a tight filter and will likely have access to browsing history to make that as secure as possible. This is one step in the process.

You will need to have a very frank conversation with your son about your expectations for his computer use, about social media etiquette and about the dangers the Internet poses. Do not kid yourself into thinking that this conversation is not necessary. Very few young people who have found themselves victims of Internet predators sensed any danger from the attention of someone who expressed a shared interest or stated an appreciation for something the child did – but these can be tactics to gain trust and connection. And even a child of integrity can get pulled into cyber-bullying.

You must have all of your son’s passwords. Regularly and frequently follow-up by checking browsing history and looking at his social media accounts. Impress upon him the permanent nature of postings. Also, network with your son’s friends’ parents and make a pact to inform one another if anyone comes across anything suspicious.


How important is it to establish a relationship with my children’s teachers? How do I go about doing this?

The nature of a parent-teacher relationship really depends upon the ages of your children and their individual needs. The younger your children are, the more important the relationship is. Understanding the teachers, their expectations and their insights into your children is key to a positive school experience. When your children have special academic needs, emotional or behavioral challenges or social struggles, the need for this relationship is multiplied.

Take the time to read carefully through communications the teacher provides. At times this may feel like information overload, but it is a way to understand what is happening in the classroom, particularly at the beginning. When there are special challenges to consider, set up an early meeting with the teacher. Do not expect the teacher to have great insights at that time and resist the urge to tell him or her how to teach your child. Your role is to help the teacher understand your son or daughter, to explain what his or her strengths and challenges are, and to give some examples of things that have worked and not worked in the past. Teachers appreciate an honest assessment; they will not judge you or your child, but will do all they can to make the year successful.


Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and InstructionDeb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]


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