2005-10-27 / Direct Answers

Answers From the Teacher

My daughter is allowed to use highlighters in school to highlight information as she reads. Is this a good practice or just a waste of time? Sometimes she highlights the whole page!

It may seem as though the use of highlighters is a waste of time if she is highlighting every word on the page, but once the novelty wears off, and she begins using highlighter pens correctly, highlighting important text can be quite helpful practice.

Highlighters are useful for locating important information in text, usually non-fiction selections. They can also be useful for map legends or graphs and charts. Since many students are reading a good selection of fiction and non-fiction, she may be using a highlighter every day. They can also be helpful in math to help focus on place values in whole numbers and decimals.

I use them often when I need to follow a set of complicated directions or attempt to make sense of wordy passages of text. I also use them to mark unfamiliar routes on maps. Although I know many college students use them, I wonder why more adults don’t use them more often. I sometimes highlight dates and times of memos that I receive from my son’s school. That way I don’t have to read the entire memo again because I can just skip to the highlighted information.

My husband and I are divorcing. We’re trying out a new schedule with our son and sometimes things don’t run as smoothly as we’d like. I’d like to inform the teacher of the recent changes, but don’t want to divulge too much of my personal situation. What’s the best way to let the teacher know that our family is in transition?

If it’s at all possible, you should schedule a conference with the teacher and discuss the matter face to face. In addition to being aware of your son’s schedule, the teacher may also be able to keep an extra eye out during the school day to see if he’s struggling at school.

If you can’t find the time to meet, then arrange to discuss the matter on the telephone. Find out when is the best time to call the teacher at school. Give the teacher enough information so that he or she is clear where your son will be headed at the end of each day and arrange for proper bus notes or pick up notes.

Finally, let the teacher know that you and your ex will both be responsible for helping with homework and school projects. Divorce is rarely easy, and keeping an extra eye out on how your son is doing in school will help him adjust to the changes in his life without the extra stress of falling behind in school.

Keep in mind that it is not necessary to explain every detail to your child’s teacher. Offer enough information so that the teacher can support your son in his efforts during the school day while he’s learning to adjust to the recent changes in his life.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net.

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