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Tips for the End of School

Make a strong finish!

Here are the tips and resources you need to help you and your kids survive the end of school and enjoy summer.

1. How to decide which classes your child will take next year.

Gifted programs
Do you think your child has special talents? Don't miss out! Now's the time to submit parent and teacher referrals for gifted and talented programs. An evaluation period may be underway in your school to determine eligibility for programs in the fall.

Requesting a teacher
Right now, schools are deciding where to place teachers. If you want to request a certain teacher next year, speak with your child's current classroom teacher as soon as possible.

Most teachers will ask that you put your preferences in writing and submit them to the principal. Depending on the school, these requests may be honored if at all possible. The name of next year's teacher will typically appear on your child's final report card.

Separating kids
This is also the time to share with your child's current teacher any concerns you may have about separating your child from another student. For example, you might request to have your child placed in a different class from a friend she's too dependent on. Don't hesitate to convey any concerns that you think will contribute to your child's success.

2. How to decide whether or not your child should move on to the next grade.

You should know if your child's teachers are considering retention. Retention planning usually requires teachers to submit requests earlier in the year. Parents should be informed along each step in this process.

To stay or not to stay?
There's great controversy in the education and mental health communities over retention, and research doesn't tend to support the practice. If your child is experiencing great academic difficulty, it may be due to an undiagnosed learning disability. Before deciding whether or not to retain your child, request a professional evaluation to rule out a learning disability.

3. How to handle your child's final report card.

Read Carefully
Your child will soon be bringing home his final report card. Take the time to look closely at each grade and compare his marks to those earned previously. Don't forget to read the teacher's comments for additional clues about your child's progress. If you're having any trouble understanding any of the information, contact the school immediately. Remember that teachers only remain in the school building for a few days after school ends.

Ways to Respond
When a child brings home a great report card, she deserves to be praised. If your child brings home a less-than-perfect report, it won't help to get visibly upset. Instead, talk to your child about the progress she's made this year.

Make Time Over the Summer for Learning
There are several ways kids can improve their skills during the summer so they can return to school with added confidence. You may still be able to enroll your child in a summer-school program. Investigate any remedial programs that exist at local colleges. Tutors are another option. You can obtain names of tutors from your school or classroom teachers. You can also call high schools and inquire about volunteer tutor programs. Two other options are to tutor your child yourself or enroll him in a learning center.

4. How to Cure Spring Fever.

As school winds down, end-of-the-year events -- from music recitals to sports banquets -- clog the calendar. But the academic year isn't over yet! Making sure your kids finish with their best effort -- when their efforts are required in so many different areas -- can be quite a challenge.

Stick with the routine.
Try your best to stick with your child's regular after-school routine. Require homework time and check to make sure she's still meeting deadlines. If a progress report says your child's work isn't getting done, make a plan with her to ensure a strong finish.

Manage the stress.
If your child is showing symptoms of stress -- not eating or sleeping well or being irritable -- you may want to talk to him about ways to handle the pressure of juggling too many balls.

5. How to analyze your child's standardized test scores.

Schools use spring standardized test scores as one of the criteria for class placement, inclusion in gifted programs, and placement in mandatory basic skills programs. So it's important that you understand the percentiles, local and national "stanines," and composite scores that you'll find on that sheet of paper. If you're confused, you're not alone! Just place a call to the counselor, teacher, or an administrator in your school and ask for help interpreting the scores.

6. How to stay in touch. Help your kids stay in touch with their friends over the summer with this printable address form.

7. How your child can learn what to expect next year and adjust to the changes.

Moving to a new building.
Well-designed school orientation programs begin early in the spring or even during the winter. They usually consist of a campus tour and a visit with current students.

If you're concerned about the move, attend the parent orientation programs to learn about curriculum, school rules, schedules, homework policies, and developmental changes. If "information overload" sets in, call your school counselor or one of the teachers for a one-on-one session.

Also, there will probably be a "Back to School Night" early in the fall that repeats this information when your child is actually experiencing the change. By then, the details will seem more relevant.

Same building, different grade.
Many schools don't plan orientation programs for kids staying in the same building. If you think your child needs a little help with the transition, make sure to schedule time in late summer -- before classes start -- to visit the school and meet the new teacher.

8. New town, new building.
To help ease your child into a new school situation, it's wise to call ahead in the spring and find out what orientation programs exist. A school or peer counselor will probably be available in the fall to conduct tours. The school secretary has information about procedures for lunch, dismissal, and absences. If you're living in close proximity to the new school, you can arrange a time this spring for your child to sit in on a few classes and get familiar with the surroundings.

9. How to arrange summer childcare.

  • Need a babysitter for just a few hours here and there, or for the occasional night out on the town? Use these guidelines for finding the right babysitter.
  • Find out how to avoid trouble with your child's caregiver.
  • 10. How your teen can line up a summer job.

  • When is the right time for your teenager to get a job? Here's the answer!
  • How do you know if your child is ready for a job? Here's how you can tell.
  • Although it might seem a little late in the season for your child to land her dream job, these guidelines just might help her dreams come true.
  • What types of jobs should your child avoid? Read about the five worst jobs for teens.
  • Find out the labor laws concerning teens and other work-related facts. Just click here!

  • Is your young teen burning 'cause he's not earning? He can set himself up for next year's job by volunteering. Use these ideas and resources to get him started.
  • Your child may not be old enough to have a "real" job, but that doesn't mean you can't teach her the value of money this summer. Try paying her by the chore or help her search the neighborhood for odd jobs.
  • 11. How to arrange and plan for summer camp.

  • Here's a guide to find out if your child is ready for summer camp.
  • How do you know how to pick the best camp? Let the National PTA help you decide which camp is right for your child.
  • For more help on choosing the camp that's right for your child, use these resources.
  • You've found a camp for your child, so now what? Use our camp guide to answer your questions about what to pack, homesickness, and other concerns.
  • More on: Summer Learning

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