Ask the Teacher

Every summer I worry about how much my kids are regressing academically and think I should move to a place that offers year-round school. What should I be doing to keep my kids from forgetting everything they learned during the past school year?


To help your children be ready to hit the ground running after summer break, incorporate a few simple activities into your daily routine to keep skills sharp. At the top of the list is reading. Trips to the library and to the second-hand book store can keep reading enthusiasm high and help maintain current reading levels. Practice writing by having kids keep a journal. Don’t focus on length and complexity, just encourage recording the events of the day. Have everyone in the family keep a journal and have contests for who writes the best headline of the day, the most unexpected part of the day, a fun fact for the day, etc. A few weeks before school starts, use online programs or workbooks from education stores to practice the past year’s math concepts as well as to refresh basic facts. These simple steps can help your child enter the new year ready and confident!


We are moving over the summer. Our kids are looking forward to a new place, but they are reluctant to start a new school. What can I do to best prepare them?

Begin by telling your children that everyone has some jitters when they begin a new school year – even if they are returning to their same school. Remind them that they have already had some experience adapting to new situations, as they have moved from one grade level to the next year after year. Talk about any other experiences they’ve had where they needed to adjust to a new situation and what skills they used to make that change successful.

At the new school, familiarize your children with the building and the bus stop or the walking route as much as possible. Walk around the building inside and out. Spend time at the playground. Introduce them to the receptionist and other office personnel. Visit the office area a few times so that your children are comfortable greeting those who work there and know not only their faces, but also their names. It will be so much easier for them to approach someone they know with any questions or worries they have during those first few days. See if you can request multiple walk-throughs of the building, especially including the area where your children’s classrooms will be. One walk-through may be just enough to provoke anxiety, but multiple trips will make the first day much more comfortable for them.

I was so frustrated with my son’s second grade teacher this past year. I saw many indications at home that he has ADD, but she refused to give me a direct answer about her impressions of him at school. Why did she insist that I talk with my pediatrician?

Your son’s teacher recognized her professional limitations. Although she has training in normal childhood development and in adjusting her teaching strategies to meet children where they are, she simply is not qualified to diagnose Attention Deficit Disorder. Certainly she is capable of recognizing a lack of focus, an unusual amount of fidgeting or periods of “zoning out.” But she does not have the expertise to determine what causes those behaviors, or even the ability to effectively test and assess your child’s psychological make up. There are a myriad of possible reasons for a child’s inattentiveness.

The first logical step toward determining if your child has ADD is to talk to his doctor, just as the teacher suggested. You will likely be given an inventory of behaviors and asked to rate how frequently you see those behaviors in your son.

Another option is to see a child psychologist. With a complete understanding of the wide range of typical and atypical childhood behaviors, the psychologist can determine whether your child’s difficulty is just a reflection of immaturity, a particular teaching or parenting approach, a simpler learning challenge, or something much more complex. He or she can help you understand the many options for addressing ADD as well as the other challenges that some students face in an academic environment

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