You’ve heard it time and time again: When parents play an active role in their child’s education, he or she is more likely to do better in school. Research shows that parental involvement is closely tied to student achievement-good grades and test scores, college aspirations, high motivation and more. Perhaps you want to be more involved in your child’s education, but aren’t sure what exactly that should entail (or how to take the first step). Here are several dos and don’ts when it comes to participating in your child’s education:
Do foster positive, frequent communication with your child’s teacher.
Attend open houses, parent-teacher conferences and other events at which you can get acquainted with your child’s teacher. If nothing else, send an email or note to introduce yourself at the beginning of the school year and let the teacher know that you welcome his or her suggestions to help your child and are always available to discuss issues as they come up.
Don’t disrespect a busy teacher’s schedule.
Teachers have hectic schedules and receive many emails and phone calls from parents each week-on top of their other school obligations. Always ask your child’s teacher at the beginning of the semester what the best way to contact him or her is, and respect his or her requests.
Do get involved in important school decisions.
Joining the Parent Teacher Association or other formal parent organization is a great way to stay connected with what is happening at your child’s school and meet other parents, teachers and administrators. PTA is also one of the best mediums through which you can contribute to positive changes at your child’s school, whether that’s policies or building improvements.
Don’t be distrustful of or intimidated by your child’s school or teacher.
Many parents tend to think of their child’s teacher as having opposing goals or intentions. Rather, think of him or her as a part of your team-someone who also wants to help your child succeed. Teachers appreciate your insight into your child and welcome your participation in their classroom. Schools, too, value your input on how they can deliver the highest-quality education possible to their students.
Do offer to help your child’s teacher in whatever ways possible.
Even if your schedule will not allow you to volunteer in the classroom often, your child’s teacher likely has plenty of other ways you might be able to help. Ask – he or she will appreciate your generosity and good intentions.
Don’t be quick to blame teachers or the school.
Not every parent-teacher relationship will be easy. If problems arise with your child, his or her teacher is a great source of information and help-but be sure to gather all facts and avoid accusations. Trust that your child’s teacher, too, has your child’s best interests in mind. If a conflict occurs, address it in a calm manner and never criticize your child’s teacher in front of your child.
Education is a collaborative effort and must involve parents and teachers to have the greatest benefit for students. If you need tips on how to get more involved in your child’s education, ask his or her teacher for ideas on how you can extend and support classroom learning at home. Overall, remember that you play an important role in your child’s school success. The more involved you can be-and the more your child knows you care about his or her education and believe school is important-the better.