________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 1 . . . . September 5, 1997

cover School Problems: Questions Parents Ask About School.

Joyce Nesker Simmons.
Toronto, ON: Pembrooke Publishers, 1996.
128pp., paper, $12.95.
ISBN 1-55138-057-9.

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

Review by Willa Walsh.

*** /4


Dear Dr. Simmons:

My son is in public school, and in his class there is a blind child. I do not like to sound selfish, but I worry about all the extra time the teacher has to give that child, and of course, that time is time away from her main duties to my son and the other children. Do you think I am right to worry about this? Believe me, I am not the only parent to express concerns about this.
This book is an enjoyable "quick read" for parents experiencing school problems, such as the one above, which impact on their children or teenagers. It highlights many common educational and social concerns and responds with commonsense answers. The problems come in the form of letters from parents, teachers, and students - addressed to Dr. Simmons' column in the Toronto Sun newspaper over a period of many years. She is the "Dear Abbey" of the school world and offers the same sane, practical and compassionate type of response. She never minimizes the problem and always provides a balanced and informative answer - one that sounds authentic and based on a great deal of experience as a teacher.

      Some of the content is aimed at schools in Ontario with their special features, but most questions address concerns which are applicable across the Canadian educational landscape. Sometimes the political correctness is carried too far, however, as when the author outlaws such expressions as "turned a deaf ear" because it puts down people with hearing problems! Figurative language is being used here without any intention of slighting persons with hearing disabilities - otherwise, deaf, blind, etc., would need to be expunged from our language altogether.

      The author has impeccable credentials and her responses show that she is still an active classroom teacher. The complete lack of educational jargon is refreshing! Some topics included are: how to choose a new school, how to build a good relationship with the children's teachers, how to cope with new teaching strategies, split grades, and the transition from elementary to high school. Other chapters deal with homework, discipline, special needs children, and how parents can best help and assist in their child's education.

      Parents will particularly benefit from this book as it builds good relationships. Hooray! for the author saying that parents should always go directly to the teacher with any problems or criticisms they may have - 90% of the "problems" can be solved right there and then. This is not a comprehensive or critical look at Canada's schools but rather a glimpse of everyday problems which occur. It is not a teacher reference book.

Recommended for parents with children in the Canadian educational system.

Willa Walsh is a secondary school teacher-librarian in Richmond, B.C.

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

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364