Orange County educators offer their insights about the best questions for parents to ask at open house.
Open house can be stressful for teachers and parents. Coming into your child’s classroom, you may not know what to expect or know much about who your child’s teacher will be. You want to make sure your child is getting the best education, but what’s the best way to get the most out of open house night?
We spoke to some staff members from Orange County schools to get the scoop on what the best questions are to ask your child’s teacher when you attend open house as well as some of the answers you might receive.
How will you personalize the learning experience for my child?
We all know that kids don’t learn the same, and it is important to understand how a teacher will incorporate types of education styles and tools so that every child has the best learning environment. It’s important to ask your child’s teacher how they will customize their curriculum.
“I always begin all of my classes with a student questionnaire and one of the questions is: ‘How do you learn best?’ Sometimes students do not know, so we have a discussion in class to see what works best for each individual student. You then incorporate it into your teaching style if you are not already doing it,” said Mireya Vazquez, lead counselor/early college advisor at Century High School in Santa Ana.
What are the key elements students should walk away from your class knowing?
Kids might not always understand the subject matter of every single lesson every day, but there should be staples your child walks away understanding on the regular.
“Students should have knowledge of grade-level curriculum and standards, skills and behaviors that support developing into a responsible learner, and social skills (i.e., resolving conflict in a positive manner),” said Jill O’Connell-Bogle, principal at Oak Grove Elementary in Aliso Viejo.
- The Challenges and Importance Of School Open Houses
- OC Teachers’ Share Their Perspectives on Education Post-Pandemic
- Using Vision Boards to Help Your Child Set Goals For the School Year
What questions should I be asking my child about your class?
Kids can be a mystery when they come home from class every day. Sometimes they give you every bit of information about their day, but other times it’s almost impossible to get any answers out of them. How can you get your kids to really open up?
“Open-ended questions encourage students to continue learning through teaching — in sharing with you what they have learned, how they have learned it and acknowledging the challenges and opportunities they faced in the process, parents can support and extend their child’s learning beyond the school day,” said Laguna Beach Unified School District Director of Assessment and Accountability Elizabeth Kannenberg, Ed.D.
Do you use technology to enhance your students’ learning experience?
We live in an era filled with technology, and it is inevitable that it makes it into the classroom regularly. O’Connell-Bogle said, “In school, technology is a tool (as opposed to entertainment). Students need to know how to use programs but also need to learn how to be good cybercitizens. Additionally, there are many dynamic learning programs that individualize instruction and reinforce skills.”
Of course, you want to make sure your child is actually learning from the technology used in the classroom rather than socializing with friends or spending too much time on platforms like social media. Make sure your child’s teacher is knowledgeable about the programs they are using in the classroom and that they have a strict no-social-media policy.
How can I support my child’s academic experience?
It has been a while since you were walking school hallways, so it’s expected that you might have a hard time putting yourself in your kid’s shoes. Many educators believe it all starts with communication. “Talk to the student and check grades regularly, give positive feedback as well as discuss areas for improvement. Contact the school if you need more support,” Vazquez said.
Kannenberg added, “Celebrating student growth is essential. Encourage your students to set and reflect on individual goals in meaningful and relevant areas.” This doesn’t mean celebrating every single thing your child does, but rather showing your support on a daily basis and enforcing critical things like good attendance and punctuality.
What do you do if you notice a child is struggling academically?
It’s never fun for anyone when your child falls behind, but this is the time when communication with your child is key. Vazquez said, “Ask questions first. A conversation is the best tool to determine exactly what a child needs. Based on the information they share and what you observe, you can come up with an action plan.”
When you do decide it is time to involve the school, there are many good ways to get in touch with your child’s teacher. Kannenberg said, “Questions about your child’s progress or learning should be addressed during individual parent-teacher conferences throughout the year. Teachers are also very responsive to parents via email or phone calls and prioritize being partners in your child’s education.” Always remember that your child’s teacher is here for you and your child, so don’t be afraid to involve them when you need extra help understanding why your child isn’t catching on.
By Jessie Dax-Setkus