Bonding With Your Child's Teacher

Wishes And Dreams

When parents have children, they have many hopes and dreams invested in their children. They expect perfectly well-behaved children who never embarrass the adults or themselves. They expect their children to do well in school and have lots of "perfect" friends. They expect their children to grow up to be model adults in the community, to achieve great things and bring them joy and happiness in their old age. It was a nice dream that exploded when the child first cried in a public setting or loudly proclaimed his/her independence with the word (usually screamed) "NO!"

It may come as a surprise to parents, but teachers entered education with essentially the same expectations of children in his/her class: quiet, cooperative, compliant children who are ready and eager to learn from the teacher. The children will learn quickly and easily and have no difficulties with the teacher or with each other. That illusion is usually shattered during student teaching, but dreams linger on.

Forming The Bond With Your Child's Teacher

The bond between parent and child is formed on a daily basis, just as it is between the child and the teacher and the parent and the teacher. No matter what age/grade the child is in, the process of building the bond is the same: communications (accurate and frequent) shared between the teacher and the parent(s).

Of course there are some basic rules:

· The communications are best done by email, notes in a special notebook (spiral bound), or in person at the end of the day, because the mornings are when teachers are getting set up for the day.

· Please, parents, NEVER go to the classroom for a chat because you want company, attention, or a place to spend time! Teachers are VERY busy ALL day long and preparation time and organization are critical to the running of a classroom.

· If you really want to build a bond with the teacher, volunteer to help with copying, making bulletin boards, even working with students as a mentor (reading, math or writing).

· Be supportive of the teacher, regardless of what the child says. (Check it out with the teacher about what happened before blaming the teacher or another student - children frequently leave out critical information about their responsibility in certain actions/events).

· When you have a concern, talk with the teacher before going to the administrator. Going to the administrator is actually an adult form of tattling, but you may not understand the complete picture and could cause a lot of unnecessary problems and/or work.

· When a child is absent, collect the missing work and supervise its completion. Sometimes it won't make a difference, but some subjects (especially math at higher levels) depend on each incremental skill taught daily.

· Hold your child accountable and responsible for his/her learning, homework, behavior and grades. Do not make excuses for your child and throw responsibility back on the teacher.

Jennifer Little, Ph.D.

All children can succeed in school. Parents can help their children by teaching the foundational skills that schools presume children have. Without the foundation for schools' academic instruction, children needlessly struggle and/or fail. Their future becomes affected because they then believe they are less than others, not able to succeed or achieve or provide for themselves or their families. Visit to learn how to directly help your child and to learn what is needed for education reform efforts to be successful.

Student Accountability in the American Classroom

It is noisy out there. The debate over how we can improve the American education system has become a screaming match over the last few years. The focus has been on teacher- accountability and how to manipulate the teacher in order to raise Johnny's test score. I believe that we have missed the point. There has been much beating of chests and gnashing of teeth over the issue. Schools have closed, teachers fired, and all kinds of crazy programs put in place in an attempt to fix the problem. However, we have overlooked one very important player - Johnny himself.

In our quest for better schools, better curriculum, higher test scores, and better graduation rates, we have overlooked the most important component in the mix - the student. He has to have more skin in the game. We teachers are so busy working ourselves to death, crunching numbers, and wringing our hands that we have forgotten one important fact. The student, not the teacher, takes the test and earns the score. We have definitely left Johnny off the hook in the last decade as we twist ourselves like contortionists to get the test scores up. It reminds me of the children's story "The Emperor's New Clothes." Just like the brave child who finally spoke up and said aloud that the Emperor is naked, we must admit that it is time for the student to pony-up in the accountability game.

We need to re-focus our efforts on student accountability. That does not mean I take my job and my own accountability lightly. It just means that without the full involvement and cooperation of the student, no one succeeds. As test scores have become more and more important, we have expected less and less of the student. Instead, we have blamed the teacher for poor student performance. Now we need to focus a serious effort on helping that student take charge and take personal responsibility for his own education and ultimately his own future. It does not start in Washington D.C., or in the state department of education, or in the state legislature. It begins inside the individual classroom. This is where successful teachers change lives one classroom at a time.

Every student has the right to feel safe and comfortable in the classroom setting, regardless of ethnicity, ability, etc. This includes the stinkers as well as the achievers. The teacher has to have a well-thought-out behavior plan that is fair and equitable to all. My plan begins with telling my classes what they can expect of me. It sometimes surprises them. I also tell them that if they see me slipping at my job and not holding up my end of the bargain, they can call me on it. That is all part of our mutual accountability to each other.

Classroom safety and equitability is overseen by the teacher, but is created by the members of the class through a common set of rules and guiding principles. I sum them up in one sentence: "We will be ready, responsible, and respectful to everyone at all times." Ready - we are prepared to do the work every day. Responsible - we are a community of young adults who take personal responsibility for our own education and actions. Respectful - we respect each other and ourselves and do everything that we can to protect and promote the well-being of our community.

Once we establish this common ground, we can get to the business of guiding our students to become accountable for their own behavior, their own education, and ultimately their own lives.

Jenny Ellis has over 20 years teaching experience in the Florida school system. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been a Florida finalist three times for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching.
Visit her at

The Different Stages of Reading

In English we translate sounds into letters when going from a spoken message to a written one. Reading is looking at letters and translating them back into spoken sounds. Picture someone reading out loud. Sound really easy? You might be surprised at how common sense the 4 basic stages of reading progress are from here.

Saying the Sounds

The first stage in reading is to get all the sounds that you will be using ready to go. There are 46 sounds that are specifically English. A child getting ready to read has to have these 46 sounds on the tip of their tongue. It's okay if some sounds are still under construction. For instance, there is a lisp that is being worked on. If on the other hand, a child uses one sound for both "f'" and "v", or switches "y" and "l" sounds then they need more practice in pronunciation.

Recognizing Letters

Next, a preparing reader needs to recognize that all the funny lines and curves on a written page are individual letters. Details like knowing double "t" is still two letters and not one, or "m" is different from "n" are critical and need to be mastered. Not to be overlooked, beginners need to know that marks like "!" and numbers are not letters. You don't want them trying to sound these out down the road.

What shall we name the letters? Experts are split on teaching just letter shapes and sounds or letter names as well. If you use letter names, like I do, then readers learn them first in order and then mixed up. Skipping letter names works with structured or scripted lessons.

Sound Letter Connection - Ideas Stage

Now that sounds and letters are in place, the next step is to connect the two in general terms. At first, your child just understands that letters stand for sounds. This means when you read a story book they know you are reading the letters and not the pictures (and not making it up as you go along). Later, a child can hear, and tell you the first, last and middle sounds in a word.

Connecting Specific Sounds to Letters

Now for the grand finale! Connect specific letters to specific sounds and blend them. There are 71 letters or groups of letters used in English. Each one of these has one or more sounds that goes with it, depending on the reading program used. Readers learn the sounds the letters make. These sounds are then blended.

These are the basic reading stages. They are not difficult. I think most parents are really satisfied when they know them because they make measuring a child's progress a relaxed observation. They also allow you to consider a reading program with more experienced eyes. That's a big deal in a world full of hype.

We were parents encouraging our children to become flourishing readers, just like you. Then we hit a point when nothing we found worked. We took 6 years developing a new reading system to teach our kids to read. To our great surprise and gratitude it was a phonics breakthrough.

Read about our story and how it led to the fastest, easiest, most complete phonics book available today at, and

Why Tutoring Can Improve a Child's Success

It would be difficult to find anybody that would argue that getting a good education is important. We make sure that our children get that education on a yearly basis all the way from kindergarten through high school. We may even follow through with that education by providing them with the best college courses that are open to us as well. Of course, there are many times when the little bit of extra attention is necessary, and this can be done by getting a tutor to help your child. Aside from the fact that they are going to get better grades, overall, there are other benefits to using a tutor that you may want to consider as well.

One of the problems that many parents have with the educational process is the fact that the teachers are so overwhelmed with busy classrooms. It is likely that those who have a need for help are going to be those that receive the most attention. Although that does not necessarily seem backward, it does leave those that are not necessarily looking for additional help to be self-taught, to a large extent. When you have a tutor available, they are going to help your child to focus, and the entire focus of the teaching is going to be on your child at the same time.

Another benefit of hiring a tutor is the fact that you can get specific help for your child. For example, consider the possibility that your child is doing fine with math and other classes but they may be lacking to a certain extent with their reading. It is possible for you to get a reading tutor that can assist them in pushing forward in that subject. Not only does it show benefit for most children who have such a specific personal teacher, it often helps them to improve by at least one grade level over the course of the summer.

If your child is also taking part in many extracurricular activities, hiring a tutor can also be beneficial because of the flexibility that is available. One option that you may want to consider if your child is very busy is hiring an online tutor that can assist him or her with their education. The Internet provides an easy way for the tutors to interact with the children, and in some cases, it will be as if they were sitting in the same room with those children. The benefit of using an online tutor is that the classes can be rescheduled very quickly, just in case something unexpected happens to come up in your life.

There are many options that are open to parents and children alike when it comes to hiring a tutor. By helping to improve the child's education, you can assist them through their entire life, not only in the careers that are open to them but also by providing them with additional self-esteem. Be sure that you set up an appointment to speak to a tutor about what they can do for you and your child, as you might be surprised with the options that are open to you.

As a longtime educator, the author of this article knows about a child's educational development. Some kids need more help and in early subjects like reading, finding a reading tutor can help tremendously. Now, online tutoring is becoming very popular among parents and their children.