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Family-to-Family Conversations June 2, 2021

Each month, families from the Maryland and Pennsylvania advisory councils provide tips and strategies on questions submitted by families across the two states. Their responses to this month’s questions are below:

Each month, families from the Maryland and Pennsylvania advisory councils provide tips and strategies on questions submitted by families across the two states. Their responses to this month’s questions are below:

If you have a question you would like answered, please fill out this questionnaire and it will be considered for our next newsletter.

QUESTION 1:

How do I know if my child is behind for their grade-level?

ANSWER:

The first and most accurate resource is your child’s teacher or teachers. They have so much information that can assess whether your child is on target for their grade-level. After having a conversation with your child’s teachers, you can meet with school administrators to see if there are versions of diagnostic tests that are readily available in your child’s school district. I would start with an assessment for my child’s assigned grade in the 2020-2021 school year. These diagnostic assessments do not have to be past standardized tests. They can also be school-specific assessments. If these diagnostic assessments are not available at your school, do a quick internet search for past year practice state assessments and answer key for tests like the Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or Edulastic’s Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP).

For families who would like additional support to determine grade-level readiness, free resources are available online to explain a student’s areas of strength and areas of improvement. One example is Khan Academy for subject-based assessments. These assessments are great for helping determine your child’s grade-level readiness or any achievement strengths or areas of improvement. These diagnostic tools are informal assessments that identify strengths, areas of mastery, and potential learning gaps for students. As parents and guardians, we have the ability to use these tools to determine student skill levels. We only need to know where to find them and how to use them.

Kayla Solinsky is a parent advocate in Carroll County, MD. She is an education leader, nonprofit executive, and the mother of two boys.

 

QUESTION 2:

What services can help when my child who is still at home virtually, can’t go back to the building due to significant health issues and is falling apart emotionally?

ANSWER:

I would first look to school health care professionals, like the school nurse, psychologist, or social worker, to offer any available resources for your child, including social emotional learning (SEL) activities and resources. I would also seek out local community organizations who may do home visits or other activities for students. You can also:

*Put together a solid schedule filled with activities so that your child knows what is happening throughout the day. The best thing you can do is to be creative and be positive.
*Schedule family time. Make sure you do activities with your child, even if it is just time for a conversation, gardening, taking a walk, or having a snack together.
*Connect with online learning or home school groups to provide activities for your child.
*Ask for help and resources from the school.

Dr. Licia Lentz is a parent in Allegheny County, PA, of a 2nd grade student at a public school. She is a lifelong educator who has held various administrative roles including high school assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, and assistant superintendent. She is currently director at an intermediate unit.

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