As we send our kids back to school after break and look at the upcoming month, I’ve had a few moms ask me about what sort of progress we should see by now. Report cards come out soon for most of us but they don’t always address the same concerns that parents do. So, I decided to make a progress report for what parents should be seeing that has nothing to do with the school assessments.

Academics

Language Arts

Report cards will show your child’s level but only you know their comfort in everyday life with reading and writing. If they go out of their way to avoid reading a book or writing something out, it can indicate a problem or difficulty that won’t necessarily show up on a test or in homework.

Math

The new common core methods cause a great deal of change in how math is taught. Students might struggle with new ways of doing this during homework, but score well on an assessment that only requires the answers or vice versa. Trust your gut on this one. If your expectations don’t line up with what the report card says, talk to the teacher.

Social Studies/ Science

Elementary teachers generally only teach one of these subjects at a time. For example, after a Social Studies unit on Explorers, they would move into a Science unit on Weather. Your child should be able to articulate, possibly with a few digging questions from you, what they are studying and a few facts about that subject. Common Core has also affected some Science methods. There is a greater focus on the student discovering a principle rather than being told it, so your child might not be able to articulate the details in the way you’d expect. This is not to say that they don’t know these facts. Their explanation will focus more on hows and whys.

Classroom Dynamics

Schedule

At this point in the year, you, your child, and their teacher should be settled into a known and predictable schedule for how the day runs. This doesn’t mean that teachers shouldn’t adapt and adjust to the needs of students. That is expected. But they should have a basic structure to the day. If your child can’t tell you when they generally have a particular subject (i.e. first thing in the morning or right after lunch), this could indicate instability in the classroom. Although, you can pretty much throw that out the window as the holidays approach and teachers juggle more and more distractions.

Homework schedules should also be established by now. Both you and your student should know when to expect homework, how it will be received, and when it will be expected back.

Parent/Teacher Communication

If you feel your child is struggling in a particular area, the teacher should have recognized this difficulty and established a plan of action. By now, teachers know their students well. Their quirks and challenges should not be a surprise.

Everyone should be familiar with the rules and consequences. Students can tell what will happen if they do or don’t do something and a parent can rely on being informed in an established way if something happens.

Parent teacher conferences should have already happened or be scheduled. You can read through Parent to Teacher Communication: What Should You Know, if you’re unsure about how to approach it or just want a few more ideas of what to ask.

Nothing is ever perfect and every classroom is different. It can be hard to know what to expect this far into the school year. In generally, I recommend having faith in the teacher unless you see indications that you shouldn’t. At the same time, trust your instincts. You are your child’s advocate.