By Kathryn M. Núñez (5th Grade Teacher)
Below are key questions to ask yourself with tips on handling these sensitive situations stemming from your tween’s FIRST report card.
What is going on with my tween? The tween years are extremely difficult. This is a time that your child is learning and developing who he/she is and what he/she likes. Hormonal changes don’t make this time any easier. Peer pressure begins to develop and so does the feeling to be accepted by the social norm of the his/her classmates. For instance, if Sally Sue, the most popular girl, doesn’t take her social studies textbook home to study; your child might feel awkward in doing so. As a teacher of so many years for these tweens, I have seen that the new generations have a higher need for social acceptance then we did. It is our job as the parents and teachers, to instill the idea that who the tween is, what they value, and where they came from is extremely important.
How is society impacting my tween’s life? With the increase of technology and the fact that both information and entertainment are only a click away, it is of upmost importance to get back down to the basics. Study habits and stress upon education have fallen to the way-side. I tell my parents on Back-to-School night the importance of us working as a community to form the mind of their child. I can teach all day and night cramming material from various subjects in the child’s mind, making stories or songs to help him/her remember, teach them learning techniques like how to take notes, and re-teach information for a few days to insure that the child has understood the material. However, without the support and re-enforcement from the home this is futile.
Why wait till my tween’s report card? Teachers are increasingly saying to each other, “I don’t understand how such and such grade goes home and I haven’t gotten a call, note, or even an e-mail from his parents.” I understand that with the increase in job pressure and the daily demand on us as adults that sometimes the subtle hints from the teachers or the advice given by Mrs. …. and Mr. …. is taken lightly. In this age of technology, use it to your advantage. E-mail the teacher with questions you may have. If your school has an online grading system, such as Edline, check it regularly along with the test, quizzes, and graded material being sent home to stay on top of your child’s progress.
What can I do as a parent of a tween? Although you might not know it, your tween loves spending time with you. Family time is crucial in our development. I’m a firm believer that around 5th grade the training wheels per say need to be taken off and responsibility needs to be imposed, but that doesn’t mean to not have any parent involvement. Reviewing, helping create study habits, and assisting when your child is frustrated with something is beneficial. Doing the math problem, essay, research, and project is not. Set aside a few hours each evening to go over assignments, subject material that needs reviewing, and a study time for upcoming tests and quizzes. I hear stories all the time about the time your tween gets to spend with you and how special it is. “Mom taught me how to make flashcards.” “Dad told me that he use to be bad at multiplication tables and taught me a trick to remember them.
What can I do to make it fun for both my tween and myself? After a long day in the office, the last thing you want to do is to discuss the different parts of the cell. Chances are your child feels the same way. Try relating the material to things that he/she likes. Making the material come to life for them, just like the teacher tries to do at school. Some children need to move around to study, while others need it to be perfectly quite. Children learn through their senses. There are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Go on a bike ride and discuss the different Native American tribes and what they used various parts of nature for. Make flashcards and create a game to review material. Play rounds of Jeopardy involving material for all of your children. Practice spelling words, while playing basketball. Make graphs or diagrams for a visual interpretation of the material. Create sample tests to diminish test anxiety. With your guidance, your tween can develop strong study habits that will raise their grades and allow them to succeed throughout their life.
Kathryn M. Núñez is a certified 5th grade teacher with over seven years of experience.