Evaluating school progress
         When there are just a few weeks to go of the school year, many teachers
begin to send home the work that has accumulated.

         This is a fine time to sit down with your child and spend time together
looking through the work she has done during the year. No doubt, the amount
of work will be staggering: homework assignments, math papers, book reports,
research projects, drawings, paintings, and other objects díart.

         Ask your child to talk about the work she has done. Perhaps you will find, if
she is in an early grade such as  kindergarten or first grade, that her writing has
greatly improved during the last school year. This will be particularly evident if
you have recent papers nearby to which you can compare writing from the
beginning of the school year.

         Slightly older children may have discovered that skills such as
multiplication, which were once very difficult, have finally gotten easier, thanks
to all the work that has gone into the studying. 

         Middle- and high-schoolers may have an increased ability in a foreign
language or musical instrument. They may finally have come to an
understanding of scientific concepts that had previously eluded them.

         You and your child will probably not want to keep every paper that has
been sent home. Use the portfolio approach common to artists: keep the pieces
that show what your child considers to be her best work. These can encompass
all curriculum areas - not just art.

         It can be helpful for your child to verbalize reasons for keeping the objects
you will be saving together. Perhaps she put a lot of work into it; she worked with
a friend on it; she likes the way it came out; it got a positive comment from the

         Throughout this process, your child will most appreciate that you are
spending time with her in the evaluation. In doing so, you are demonstrating
with your time that school is important, her efforts are important, and your time
together is valuable to you.

         This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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