As the end of term approaches, the summer holidays begin to appear on the horizon. Before we dust off the beach mats and pack the buckets and spades though, there are a few key tasks left to complete in schools.
Perhaps the most essential is the end of term report, a summary of the progress your child has achieved throughout the year. It’s an important document and, in conjunction with parents’ evenings, tells you a lot about how they have been getting on.
Most of the time, reports are a pleasing read (my mother would surely disagree!), however, they can sometimes highlight a disappointing year where your child appears to have made almost no progress. What should you do if you find yourself in this situation and how should you react?
Firstly, it’s important not to overreact. Read the report and the grading carefully, making sure to double check. Pick out anything you’re not sure about, in case you want to discuss things with your child’s class teacher. Look at the positives you can take from it and then list any parts which concern you.
Talk to your child
You should always check with your child how they are getting on at school. Towards the end of the year, ask them how they feel things have gone and what things they think they did well or found difficult. It’s crucial you consider their input at all stages.
Once their books are taken home at the end of the year, have a look through them and see the feedback they have been getting from teachers and the general standard of their work.
Work with them
If a capable child needs to work on a few areas that may be stalling progress, use the summer break to go over topics together. Ask the class teacher if there are any resources available or if they are able to suggest some useful websites and suchlike. Make sure you don’t overburden children in the break though, as a re-charge of the batteries is essential for next year- little and often is the way forward.
Talk to the teachers
As well as gaining their input on work you can do at home, talk to your child’s class teacher if you’re unsure or deeply concerned about a report. Make sure you catch them at a good time and approach things with the mentality of working as team. Ask them to guide you as to what the areas for development are and what you can do at home to address them. Discuss how your child has been across the year and what aspects suggested to the teacher that they hadn’t been progressing.
Sometimes parents and children working together can be a recipe for disaster. Consider bringing in outside help to overcome this. Tutors can offer individual, one-to-one support, which targets those areas that require work.
Share the report with the tutor as it will give them a great basis for the topics they need to cover. With targeted focus, children should start making tangible progress.
An often-overlooked factor of poor progression is underlying cases of SEN (Special Educational Needs). Things like dyslexia or dyscalculia can remain undetected for years in the mad bustle of the classroom and can severely hamper a child’s attainment. If you notice unusual behaviour patterns or are concerned with some areas of your child’s work, arrange to talk with the school about these issues and what can be done.
As with every situation, external factors can hugely influence children’s performance. Things like bullying or domestic issues can weigh heavily on young children’s mind and spill over into their studies. Sometimes children just don’t “click” with their class teacher and an entire year can be a write-off. Often these problems lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem, hugely affecting their progress in the classroom.
Different levels of progress
Children develop at different rates and very often some leave it “late in the day” to start flourishing at school. As many parents and teachers say, one day the penny does drop and things begin to fall into place. Children are still young and finding their place in the world.