As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. When parents and families are involved with their children's schools, the children do better and have better feelings about going to school. In fact, many studies show that what the family does with their children is more important to a child's success at school than how much money the family makes or how much education the parents have. There are many ways in which parents can support their children's learning at home and throughout the school year. Here are some great ideas to get you started!
Develop a partnership with your child's teachers and school staff
Meet your child's teacher.
As soon as the school year starts, find a way to meet your child's teacher. Let the teacher know you want to help your child learn. Make it clear that you want the teacher to contact you if any problems develop with your child. Talking with the teachers helps you develop a good relationship with them.
Attend parent-teacher conferences and keep in touch with your child's teacher.
Schools usually have one or two parent-teacher conferences every year. You can bring a friend to interpret for you or ask the school to provide an interpreter if it's difficult for you to follow the primary language they use. You can also ask to meet with your child's teacher any time during the year. If you have a concern and can't meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note or set up time to talk on the phone.
Support your child academically
Find out how your child is doing.
Ask the teacher how well your child is doing in class compared to other students. If your child is not keeping up, especially when it comes to reading, ask what you or the school can do to help. it's important to act early before your child gets too far behind. Also be sure to review your child's report card each time it comes out.
Apply for special services if you think your child may need it.
If your child is having problems with learning, ask the school to evaluate your child in his or her strongest language. The teacher might be able to provide accommodations for your child in class. If the school finds out your child has a learning disability, he can receive extra help at no cost.
Make sure that your child gets homework done.
Let your child know that you think education is important and that homework needs to be done each day. You can help your child with homework by setting aside a special place to study, establishing a regular time for homework, and removing distractions such as the television and social phone calls during homework time.
Help your child prepare for tests.
Tests play an important role in determining a students grade. Your child may also take one or more standardized tests during the school year, and your child's teacher may spend class time on test preparation throughout the year. As a parent, there are a number of ways that you can support your child before and after taking a standardized test, as well as a number of ways you can support your child's learning habits on a daily basis that will help her be more prepared when it's time to be tested.
Get involved with your child's school
Learn what the school offers.
Read the information the school sends home, and ask to receive information in your native language if necessary. Talk to other parents to find out what programs the school offers. Maybe there’s a music program, after-school activity, sports team, or tutoring program your child would enjoy. Remember to keep track of events throughout the school year.
Volunteer at your child's school and/or join your school’s parent-teacher group.
Teachers appreciate it when parents help out at the school! There are many ways you can contribute. You can volunteer in your child's class or in the school library. You can make food for a school event. If you work during the day, you can attend “parents night”. At most schools, a group of parents meets regularly to talk about the school. This group is usually called the PTA or PTO. These meetings give you a good chance to talk with other parents and to work together to improve the school.
Get informed and be an advocate for your child
If something concerns you about your child's learning or behavior, ask the teacher or principal about it and seek their advice. Your questions can be like these — What a specific problem is my child having with reading? What can I do to help my child with this problem? How can I stop that bully from picking on my son? How can I get my child to do homework? Which reading group is my child in?
Let the school know your concerns.
Is your child doing well in school? Is he or she having trouble learning, behaving, or studying? Is there a problem with another student, teacher, or administrator?
Support your child's learning at home
Demonstrate a positive attitude about education to your children.
What we say and do in our daily lives can help them develop positive attitudes toward school and learning and to build confidence in themselves as learners. Showing our children that we both value education and use it in our daily lives provides them with powerful models and contributes greatly to their success in school.
Monitor your child's television, video game, and Internet use.
Indian children on average spend far more time watching TV, playing video games and using the Internet than they do completing homework or other school-related activities.
Encourage your child to read.
Helping your child become a reader is the single most important thing that you can do to help the child to succeed in school and in life. The importance of reading simply can't be overstated. Reading helps children in all school subjects. More important, it is the key to lifelong learning.
Talk with your child.
Talking and listening play major roles in children's school success. It's through hearing parents and family members talk and through responding to that talk that young children begin to pick up the language skills they will need if they are to do well. For example, children who don’t hear a lot of conversations and who aren’t encouraged to talk themselves often have problems learning to read, which can lead to other school problems.
Encourage your child to use the library.
Libraries are places of learning and discovery for everyone. Helping your child find out about libraries will set him on the road to being an independent learner. Remember that libraries also offer a quiet place for students to complete homework, and are often open in the evening.
Encourage your child to be responsible and work independently.
Taking responsibility and working independently are important qualities for school success. You can help your child to develop these qualities by establish reasonable rules that you enforce consistently, making it clear to your child that he has to take responsibility for what he does, both at home and at school, showing your child how to break a job down into small steps, and monitor what your child does after school, in the evenings and on weekends. If you can't be there when your child gets home, give her the responsibility of checking in with you by phone to discuss her plans.
Encourage active learning.
Children need active learning as well as quiet learning such as reading and doing homework. Active learning involves asking and answering questions, solving problems and exploring interests. Active learning also can take place when your child plays sports, spends time with friends, acts in a school play, plays a musical instrument or visits museums and bookstores. To promote active learning, listen to your child's ideas and respond to them. Let him jump in with questions and opinions when you read books together. When you encourage this type of give-and-take at home, your child's participation and interest in school is likely to increase.