Settling into second level

General aims of these sessions:

Parents reflect on their own and their children’s experiences of education Address parental concerns about their children’s move to second level Develop skills for communicating effectively with school staff Raise awareness of the changes children face starting second level Understand ways to support homework Be more familiar with the language, policies, etc., of second level

Topic Content
1. Preparing for change Parents reflect on what the change to second level will mean for their child. They consider their child’s personality and traits (outgoing, shy, neat, disorganised, quick-tempered, easily led) and identify possible positive and negative experiences for your child, and ways to cope with these. Identify new school subjects not covered in primary school. Follow with input by school on subject choice.
2. School staff and policies Becoming familiar with names of key personnel in school. Reading a variety of materials from school, e.g., homework diary, policies, rules, sample timetable, etc. Responding to frequently asked questions.
3. Ways to support homework Overview of first year books. Explanation of the homework diary. Planning homework time. Supports parents can provide, e.g., making space, reducing distractions, offering encouragement, etc. What to do when a child is struggling.
4. Communication to and from school Important school dates, names and numbers for school staff. Who to contact for different issues. Preparing questions for parent-teacher meetings. Reading sample letters from school. Writing sample notes to school (e.g., explaining absence, requesting early release).
5. Understanding school expectations What is expected from children re: homework, uniform, lockers, punctuality. The school discipline code. Questions and answers
6. Supports and concerns Outlining supports in place for children with specific learning difficultes/special needs. Other ways the school supports students. Discussing concerns with the school.

 

 

Topic 4: Communicating to and from school

Materials:

School calendar
Handouts for parents on key issues
Sample letters/notes/permission slips from school
Paper and pens

Task Suggested Activities
Note important school dates Handout copies of the school calendar and discuss key dates. Explore reasons for days off, note exam times etc. Encourage parents to make their own notes and plan ahead for, e.g., parent-teacher meetings.
List names and numbers for key staff Give parents a handout listing key school staff contact information. Explain each area of responsibility in school and which staff, other than the principal, are in charge of certain areas. Discuss possible reasons for contacting the school, or school contacting families. Explain why it may be helpful to share relevant information with school staff, e.g. family illness, death, new baby, moving home.
Preparing questions for parent- teacher meetings Explain how parent-teacher meetings work, e.g., that the parent needs to bring a list of teacher’s names and subjects their child is doing. Invite parents to share their issues or concerns about these meetings. Role play some of these concerns to help parents work out strategies to resolve them. Make a list of frequently asked questions.
Reading communications from the school Display examples of letters/notes/permission slips from the school. Read aloud and ask parents to identify what, if any, action/response is needed e.g. sign response slip, note important dates, provide requested documents etc.
Writing to the school Discuss occasions when parents may need to contact the school. Provide practice on composing notes to a teacher, e.g. absences, lateness, dentist /doctors appointment etc.

 

Literacy Links:

Reading short texts, e.g. information on handouts. Scanning/skimming documents for information. Listening to obtain information. Extending vocabulary. Identifying key words. Asking questions to obtain information. Locating information in a text Making notes. Writing a formal letter. Filling in forms. Expressing opinions, facts, feelings. Interacting in formal situations

Numeracy Links:

Finding information on a calendar
Noting key dates and telephone numbers
Budgeting time
Fitting writing into prescribed space (as in forms, response slips etc.)