You’ve visited your child’s classroom for back-to-school night, met his/her teacher and scheduled your parent-teacher conference.
Staying connected during the school year is an important step in your child’s education. More than 500 studies have shown the positive benefits that result when parents get involved in their children’s education, including improved grades and test scores, fewer discipline problems, reduced chance that a child will use drugs and alcohol and increased likelihood they will attend better schools after high school.
Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out where you fit in – or how you can make a connection given our busy schedules.
1. When in doubt, reach out.
Contact your child’s teacher if you suspect your child is struggling with a particular subject. Parent-teacher conferences, often held in the fall, are intended to give you a glimpse of your child’s progress, but you don’t have to wait until then to meet with the teacher. Likewise, if the parent-teacher conference has long-passed and you have questions or concerns, contact the teacher. Schedule a meeting to re-introduce yourself and have a general discussion about the ongoing school year.
If your schedule, and the school, permits, offer to help out in the school or your child’s classroom. You will be able to see how your child and his/her teacher interact, as well how your child functions in the classroom.
3. Join the PTA
Find out if your child’s school has a parent organization, such as PTA (Parent Teachers Association) or PTO (Parent Teachers Organization), and get involved. Most parent groups look for help both during and after school hours, so even if you have an hour to give every few months, there’s somewhere to pitch in. In addition, parent groups help you connect with other parents who can help you navigate the many stages of your child’s development.
4. Use technology.
Today’s technological world provides plenty of opportunities to connect with your child’s school and teacher(s). Email, websites, online “gradebook” programs that allow you to track and monitor your child’s work/grades, and the good old telephone help you stay in touch with your child’s progress and her teacher.
5. Use technology, part 2.
If your child is struggling in a particular content area, ask your child’s teacher for homework help resources. A teacher is familiar with websites and other online resources that can help you guide your child and bolster learning.
Remember, it’s a partnership. Working with your child’s school and teacher is one of the best things you can do to support your child’s education.
There is, after all, strength in numbers.
- GreatSchools.org offers Six Ways to Stay Connected to Your Child’s School
- BabyCenter.com offers information that’s helpful beyond preschool in How to Build a Good Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher
- From ParentFurther.com: Reach Out! Tips for Building a Strong, Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship