________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 18. . . .January 14, 2011.


Meet the Teacher: How to Help Your Child Navigate Elementary School, a Common Sense Guide for Parents.

Betty Borowski & Laura Mayne. Illustrated by Scot Ritchie.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2010.
175 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55407-660-4.

Subject Headings:
Education, Elementary-Parent participation.
Parent-teacher relationships.


Review by Lisa O’Hara.





Laura Mayne and Betty Borowski are true to their word and provide an excellent common sense guide for parents in Meet the Teacher: How to Help Your Child Navigate Elementary School. The book has 14 chapters covering everything from “Entry into School” (Chapter 1) to “Ways Children Learn” (Chapter 5) to “Peer Pressure and Bullying” (Chapter 15). Also included are chapters on establishing a positive relationships with the teacher, school and classroom organization, reading, math, behaviour and discipline, homework and study skills, conflict resolution and parenting tips. Each chapter has a very clear layout with headings, subheadings and bullet lists. There are also illustrations, such as the one found in the handwriting chapter, demonstrating proper technique and side-bars or feature boxes containing interesting and relevant information. For example, in the chapter on mathematics, there is a feature box on “Calculators,” and in the chapter on school and classroom organization, there is a feature box “Advice from a mom with a peanut-allergic child.” There is a great index system for quick look-up as well as the very specific table of contents noted above.

Meet the Teacher is full of practical advice. In the chapter on reading, there are lists of recommended books categorized by type (ABC and 1-2-3 books, picture books, leveled reading books, movable books, novelty books, folk tales, fairy tales, myths, legends and fables and chapter and series books). In the chapter on special education, you will find a feature box on the terminology used in special education and a section on steps in the special education identification process. The chapter on report cards and parent-teach conferences includes a section on how teachers assess students and how to interpret the report card. Because of the subheadings and feature boxes, it is very easy to hone in on the information you are most interested in.

     Moving from Discipline to Self-Discipline

     The “big picture” goal of rules and consequences is not to punish and impose discipline, but to help children move toward self-discipline. This is a process that takes time, a lot of support and ongoing encouragement to develop. Children will make mistakes along the way, but they will learn from the mistakes and keep moving ahead and forging on. When teachers and parents set reasonable limits for children and are consistent in following them through, they are providing a frame-work within which children will develop their sense of right and wrong. The aim is for children to start to think before they act. This is the beginning of self-control. In time, they start to follow rules not to please someone or to avoid punishment but because they understand that it is the right thing to do.

     Children with self-discipline demonstrate responsibility and ownership for their actions. They are more likely to do well at school and are justifiably proud of their accomplishments.
(From the chapter “Respect, Behavior and Discipline.”)

     The book is written in a no-nonsense style that will make parents feel comfortable and well-informed. Included in the back of the book is a list of recommended reading and web resources if parents would like more in-depth information than what is offered here. The authors have a combined total of 57 years teaching in every grade of elementary school, and parents reading this book will be happy that these two educators decided to share it!

Highly Recommended.

Lisa O’Hara is a mother of three and a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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