- About JEI
- JEI News
The importance of parent-teacher relationships and how to have them
Your child’s education does not end when the last school bell rings. Rather, it continues at home with you, the parent. Parents take the baton from teachers once school lets out; it becomes their responsibility to make sure the learning continues. This is why the relationship between parents and teachers is very important--they are partners. They have to be on the same page and have trust in each other. Education researchers S.L. Christenson and S.M. Sheridan wrote in School and families: Creating essential connections for learning (2001): Both parents and teachers have an important role to play; their roles do not replace but rather complement and reinforce the other’s role, thus providing the student with a consistent message about reading and learning. Thinking of parents and teachers as “partners” refers to this mutual effort toward a shared goal. It also implies shared responsibility of parents and teachers for supporting students as learners. It is best when parents know what teachers are doing in the classroom and teachers know what attention parents are providing at home. This way they reinforce the same teaching practices and habits that will boost the child’s learning and self-esteem. It is a lot more collaborative when both parties are on the same page. Here are a few ways parents can make sure they keep their bond strong with their child’s teachers: 1. Set expectations from the beginning Even before meeting the new teacher or sending your kid off to school, you need to go in with the right mindset. This means to decide on what you expect from the teacher and the school year, as well as what the teacher can expect from you and your child. You could let the teacher know your child has a hard time coming out of their shell, but you hope that they will become more expressive by the end of the year. You could let the teacher know you work multiple jobs but are generally free for night events. You and the teacher should be on the same page--and it helps if you have a clear vision of this page going in. 2. Attend parent-teacher meetings Try your best to go to all parent-teacher conferences, meetings, and events. By attending frequently and punctually, you show respect for the teacher and prove that you take your child’s education seriously. This is also the perfect opportunity to discuss successes, challenges, and other important information. 3. Communicate clearly and thoroughly Ask questions to understand the classroom environment. You can ask teachers about how they handle issues and talk to children, as well as what they expect from students and parents alike. You can listen to the teacher’s concerns as well as raise your own. Ask for the best way to contact the teacher outside of conferences. 4. Show your appreciation and respect Show that you respect and appreciate teachers. Write them thoughtful cards or get them appropriate gifts. Compliment them on any progress that you see or explain what seems to be working well for your child. However, do not act too chummy; there should be boundaries as it is a professional relationship. Never vent, either. If you have concerns, phrase them constructively. If you give the right attention to the teacher, they will do the same toward your child. Think of how you treat the teacher as the way you want the teacher to treat your child. 5. Maintain your child’s positive opinion Children are quick to pick up on things. Be wary of how you speak to and about their teacher when your child is within hearing distance. This may negatively affect their view of their teacher, which could then affect their behavior in the classroom. This negative view might even be passed along to your teacher, intentionally or not. Either way, behave respectfully even away from the teacher’s eye. 6. Collaboration is key Working together with your child’s teacher can bring about great things, especially if your child is struggling in certain areas. You can create plans with the teacher to address challenges observed in the classroom and once they are in place, check if they have helped in any way. This is a partnership, so rather than telling the teacher what to do or only working on said problems at home, you want to make sure both sides are on the same page and in agreement with the next steps to take. Listen with an open mind to the teacher’s suggestions. Feel free to give your own input. Also, update your teacher on how the child behaves or studies at home and what you have been doing to help. Remember, communication is key to collaboration. 7. Create a comfortable environment Another thing you can do is to speak more personally rather than directly. This means you should put more of an emphasis on how you are feeling or doing than what the teacher is doing so as to avoid putting them on the defense. Instead of saying, “You did not tell me how my son is doing on his homework,” you can say, “I would love to know how my son is doing on his homework.” There is a greater sense of engagement this way. It will make the teacher feel more comfortable about relaying news, updating you, and addressing any issues, which then opens you up to knowing everything that is going on in your child’s school life. Keeping all of these tips in mind, you will be able to nurture a strong and mutually respectful relationship with your child’s teachers. By communicating openly and politely, you will be opening doors for your child’s education. Think of teachers as your child’s mentors and your partners striving for a common goal. Do you have any tips you want to share with other parents? Head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment under the article!
Must-have skill for children #6: writing vividly
Narrative writing is one of the easiest types of writing for young children to grasp. Before they graduate into expository or persuasive writing styles, they often learn how to tell a story. In order to tell a story effectively, children need to relay stories, feelings, and ideas in a way so that readers understand the message and can live in the experience. And in order to do that, children need to write vividly. It all comes down to this must-have skill. However, children may have a hard time being specific and writing in detail when they are young. They are in the early stages of understanding grammar and communicating coherently. This is why it is important to get them to exercise their creativity and expressiveness early on. There are many figures of speech and other tools to up-level their writing. Here are just a few, and we have included this in a downloadable file near the end, so you can share these tips with your child! Your child can use... Prepositional Phrases: Phrases that use prepositions to indicate where one object is in relation to another. Ex. She placed the book on her bedside table. Your child does not have to give stage directions, but adding a few extra details helps the reader envision what is happening. Little specifics can turn a passage into a scene. Sometimes a sentence seems incomplete without this detail. The example above would seem cut short or unimportant if it had just been, “She placed the book.” By saying where she placed the book, your child provides both a visual and a suggestion that she plans to read in bed later. Metaphors: These are figurative speeches that compare one thing to another. Similarly, a simile is a type of metaphor that uses “as” or “like.” Ex. Hugs from moms are as comforting as naps in front of crackling fireplaces. You cannot get more colorful in your writing than by including some beautiful metaphors. Similes may be the easier type for your child to understand and utilize, but no matter how they do it, their writing will definitely become more flowery and vivid to the reader. This especially is helpful in moments when the reader may not understand a new concept or object introduced in the story. Plugging it into a more familiar scenario, like “the cloud looked as fluffy as a pillow,” could make it easier for a reader who never saw the cloud to imagine what it actually looks like. Interjections: These are abrupt remarks to express or exclaim a feeling or response. Ex. Wow! Geez! Oh no! Hah! Yeah! These can be inserted in as dialogue to add some excitement and realism to a conversation or event! If a character comes across something surprising and does not say anything of the sort, that seems unlikely or bland for the narrative. Add in excitement through reactions, and what better way to show such reactions than to sprinkle in some occasional interjections? Onomatopoeia: These are words to express a sound that is made. They can be used as a noun or a verb, as well. Ex. Rrrring! Plop! Ruff. Spice things up! Make things more fun and exciting by using onomatopoeia! Instead of saying, “The telephone rang,” your child can introduce the telephone into the scene by jumping right into the “Ring! Ring!” Part of vivid writing is to awaken the senses and what better way to awaken the hearing sense than to use onomatopoeia? It will grab the reader’s attention as if they heard the sound in real life. Variety in Word Choice: Antonyms: words that have opposite meanings Synonyms: words that have similar meanings Your child can switch up their language through the appropriate use of synonyms and antonyms. After a while, language can get boring and repetitive. To keep the writing dynamic, your child can look up ways to replace certain words that have been said too frequently. This will also help to improve their vocabulary! They should take care to not constantly use big words for the sake of it and to truly understand nuances because even synonyms can be used in different ways. For example, “renowned” can mean being known by many people but is often used positively. On the other hand, “infamous,” a word that is used incorrectly quite often, means being well-known for a bad reason. They can also insert adjectives or adverbs as well as change their sentence structures to switch things up. == With these new tools and tips, included in the convenient downloadable file, your child will have up-leveled their writing in no time! Download and print the file so your child can use this handy aid in school or for homework. They will surely feel more confident and impress their teachers. Other things that always help with writing is to encourage your child to read as many books as possible and enroll them in our English and Reading & Writing programs! Check them out here, and happy writing!
Past Math Olympiad and Essay Contest winner, Alicia Shin, shares advice to future participants
Alicia Shin was in the math and English programs at JEI Learning Center for two years when she won first place in the 8th-grade division for Math Olympiad 2019 West Coast and second place in Division D for the Essay Contest 2018. Due to her success, JEI Learning Center reached out to her to get more information about her process and what advice she has for future contestants. Alicia admitted feeling reluctant at first for both competitions: “I was kind of nervous. I didn’t really want to do them because it kind of feels bad when you don’t get the results you want. For the Math Olympiad, I was pretty confident, but not for the Essay Contest because math is my favorite subject, but English is not.” The strategy she used for Math Olympiad was skipping the questions she already knew so she could tackle the ones she did not know first. In the end, she ran out of time and could not go back to the easier ones, but this proved to work for her as she won first place! The Essay Contest was harder for her, but she still did well and learned a lot. She said, “Now I kind of see how [brainstorming] affects the essay. I came to a stop in my topic because I had not brainstormed enough, so I think I can work on that next time.” She also realized the importance of proofreading, which includes playing around with paragraphs and sentences to see how they fit together, pinpointing odd phrases, and improving the overall flow. It was a rough process for her as she said she wanted to give up after writing for about ten days. Alicia explained how she had a hard time focusing and what she learned about time management: I learned the basic fact that successful results don’t come from cramming. I didn’t have time to look for the information because of my schoolwork and then I kind of ended up in a slump, which gave me a hard time concentrating. I learned that I should finish schoolwork before it’s too late, and that I should work on what I have when I have time. So one day if I have enough time to work on it, I shouldn't say I can do it next time or when there’s time later; rather, I should do it that day when I do have time to work on something that I need to do. Throughout this challenging process, Alicia felt particularly grateful for her teacher, Renee, at the JEI Learning Center in San Diego. Alicia explained how Renee helped her become a more confident writer: I trusted my teacher in JEI. Renee really helped me out. Whenever I had a hard time organizing my thoughts, she talked with me and told me how to form parts in my essay . . . Renee really helped me with my grammar and writing. When I struggled with grammar because I couldn’t understand concepts, she explained them to me. Also with writing, she really helped me organize my thoughts and writing in general. If the sentence didn’t really fit, she told me and really wanted me to attempt to fix the sentence. Her mother also noted changes in Alicia throughout her experience with JEI, saying that in the beginning, Alicia would talk about the difficulties she would have in English class. However, after enrolling in the JEI English program, her daughter grew confident, got good results, and started to believe in herself. Mrs. Shin said she was very grateful for JEI. She had once considered pulling Alicia out of JEI after some time there, but Alicia had told her she would like to continue because she loved the teachers: “Renee is her favorite teacher, who helped her a lot, gave her confidence, and motivated her.” After the Essay Contest, Alicia discovered a newfound determination to do better in her weaker subject. She said that in high school, she plans to follow up with what she is learning in English class instead of falling behind like she used to. “I would like to read more books and improve my vocabulary,” she added. When asked to explain what determination means to her and give advice to future contestants who are too scared to put themselves out there, the two-time winner said: I am actually one of those people. I would tell them to just do it because once you try multiple times, you get confident, and I noticed that in attempting competitions, I improved on a vast scale. On the other hand, if I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t have been able to be informed on what I could work on, and I’d stay at the same level without making any improvements on where I’m weak. I’m proud of myself for winning the contests before I really don’t have a chance anymore. Alicia advises other students to stay determined, defining it as never giving up, even if the task given is boring and tedious. For success, she concludes, “I think it’s when you work on something with your best. Doing your best is success, and then getting a result that may satisfy you even if it’s not the best result ever.” With that, see success for your child in this year’s Essay Contest, which will center on the importance of books. Share Alicia’s experience with your child, register for the Essay Contest in the month of October, and witness your child grow confident and determined!