Dear Teacher

Young couple and their children meeting with headmistress at school

By Dear Teacher 



What Should Be Learned at School Conferences

How can I learn the most about how my children are really doing in school at their conferences? – Curious

Assuming your conference is with a teacher who is well-prepared for a conference, you should be learning test results, seeing some papers and hearing about a child’s strengths and weaknesses both academically and socially. In this case, your major role is to be a listener and to avoid interjecting social chit-chat that takes away from the limited time devoted to a conference. However, do tell the teacher about any family events that could be affecting a child’s  performance in school such as illness, divorce or death of a close relative.

At the end of a conference, there is usually time for you to ask questions and give additional input about your child. For this segment of the conference, preparation is absolutely essential. The first thing that you want to do is to get input from your child. Begin by asking him or her if there is anything special that the child wants you to talk about with the teacher. It is important that you point out that the purpose of parent/teacher conferences is to help the child do well at school.

Don’t rely on your memory, but take notes outlining what your child says. Should the child have no suggestions, you may want to ask questions about what subjects are favorites or trouble spots, who are friends and if there are any bullying issues. It is also not a bad idea to ask the child what he or she would like to change about the school day.

Assuming teachers are not giving the usual basic data about a child that parents expect, it is wise to prepare a list of questions listing the topics that you want covered.

There are some further cardinal rules that ensure parents will have a good conference. They should arrive on time, leave when the conference is over – not cutting into the next parent’s time, and not be combative. And if there are problems, another conference should be set up to look for ways to resolve them. It is not likely there will be sufficient time to resolve any serious difficulties at this initial conference.


The Importance of Rhyming to Learning to Read

Why is teaching rhyming so important when teaching children how to read?  –Puzzled

Research shows that young children learn to read faster if they are enjoying themselves. Using rhyming words to teach them to read definitely makes reading fun. All children love the rhyming word approach to learning to read. Also, rhyming words help kids to develop phonemic awareness and to learn how to break larger words into syllables.

Dear Teacher has done extensive research and developed apps that will teach your children to read using the fun rhyming word approach. By using our Dear Teacher Skinny Books your children will start reading right away and quickly master basic phonics.

Go to and you can link directly to the app store and your children will be learning to read with Skinny Books the Word Family Readers. There are two Skinny Book apps. The first app will help your kids learn to read more than 200 rhyming words and 37 basic sight words.  The second app Skinny Books 2 will help them learn an additional 200 rhyming words and 18 new sight words. In addition, they will have learned almost every consonant sound giving them an excellent start in becoming both readers and spellers.

One great feature of these books is that you’ll know that they have mastered all the story words as there are no picture clues. In addition, children will find the stories quite entertaining.

On the Dear Teacher website, you will be able to download free worksheets that accompany the word families stories to reinforce your children’s reading skills. Additionally, by entering in the keyword “rhyming” you will find over three pages of columns that we have written explaining the importance of rhyming words for children. Some of the articles you will find are:

  • Helping First Grader Learn to Read
  • Describing Phomenic Awareness
  • Getting off to the Right Start in Reading
  • How to Start Teaching Young Children to Read


The Pitfalls of Using Apps

What pitfalls should you be aware of in the apps your children are using? – Avoiding Dangers

You definitely want your children to enjoy using their electronic devices, but you also want to protect them from the drama of cyberbullying and oversharing. Keep in mind that most apps do build in features to disable things that could be a possible danger to young users.

You should try all apps that your children have to make sure that the app is using appropriate language for the age of your child and not posting explicit stuff, especially when your child is using social media apps. Remember your child’s location can be tracked within a city block and a post may even include your location. So, make sure to turn off location settings on a phone and in an app. Plus, check to see if previous posts include location information and delete any you find.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher. com or to the Dear Teacher website.