Here are three key questions we recommend asking:
Is my child on track?
Ask whether your child is performing on grade level and where they’re performing above or below grade level. Many students are “good” in class and do the work that’s asked of them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re mastering the material. As you’re looking at your child’s grades and progress reports, be on the lookout for anything that seems like a significant shift. Did their ELA grades suddenly get much better or much worse? That could signal that you’re not getting a complete picture of what’s going on.
What evidence from my child’s work shows their current level?
Ask to see any diagnostic or benchmark assessments in reading and math. These are helpful because they’ll give you a sense of your child’s progress throughout the school year. If you have report cards to look at, make sure you’re clear on how the grades are assigned and weighted—for example, tests and quizzes typically show a student’s independent mastery, but homework and classroom assignments might be graded on completion alone. It’s helpful to know what you’re looking at.
What specific skills can my child work on more independently?
Ask for more clarity than just “writing” or “math.” Many parents wonder what’s reasonable to ask teachers for, given how thin teachers are often stretched. The reality is it is already the teacher’s job to isolate skills and areas for focus in order to provide strong instruction to their students—so you’re not really asking for anything “extra.” They should be able to identify particular skills within a growth area for your child. And finally, ask them for specific suggestions for what tools you can use to support your child. Are there particular on or offline resources, activities, or platforms you can use that will align with the work they’re doing in school?
In addition to talking through these three questions with your child’s teacher, put some time on the calendar to reconnect before the end of the school year. This will give you a chance to talk about what progress your kid has made this year, and will help you craft a plan for summer learning. You can also use their end-of-year progress to jumpstart conversations with next year’s teacher in the fall.