We are days away from the start of school and you want to ensure your child has the best year ever. So, how do you do that?
Simple…get involved. Two-thirds of teachers believe that their students would do better in school if their parents were more involved in their education. (Public Agenda, 2003)
The easiest (and, arguably, the most effective) way to get involved in your child’s education is by establishing a good relationship with your child’s teacher. Don’t let your first meeting with the teacher be a discussion about why Jason was running around the classroom. Take the initiative and build a solid foundation right from the very beginning.
And parents, this doesn’t end when your child graduates from middle school. Statistics show that parents are less involved in their child’s education when they enter high school. While I do agree your child should learn to take on some of the responsibility, learning takes time. It is just as important to be involved at the high school level. Remember — high school decisions will ultimately influence where your child goes to college.
I remember when I was a high school freshman, our school set up individual meetings for each of us with the assistant principal. Here I was, just starting a brand new school, and going to the assistant principal’s office. I thought I was in trouble already! But, no. The assistant principal insisted on meeting with each and every student personally at the start of the year. She wanted her first interaction with each of us to be a positive one. And what a difference it made! We said hello in the hall every year until I graduated.
“Take the initiative and build a solid foundation [with your child’s teacher] right from the very beginning.”
When the school year starts, be sure to attend the “Meet the Teacher” events. If your school is not offering one, call the teacher. Make a point of introducing yourself and creating a good first impression. “Hello, Mr. Thomson. My name is Mrs. Walker and I am Jason’s mom. We are looking forward to working with you this year.”
Remember, you are all part of a team — you, your child, and the teacher. It is your job collectively to ensure your child has a great school year. Communication is the key. You should always be communicating with your child and the teacher — asking questions, listening to explanations, and offering suggestions.
When you are having discussions with the teacher, you never want to come across as aggressive. Yes, you may be upset that Jason is flunking biology, or you may feel that Jason truly deserved an A on his science project. But remember — we are all human and prone to mistakes and our own opinions. The teacher clearly felt the grade or action was deserved. It is your right as a parent to calmly listen to the teacher’s story and opinions. While you may not agree with them, you should respect them. Consider it a learning exercise for your student — all people deserve the same level of respect, regardless of their age, race, gender, or beliefs. Whatever you do, never insult the teacher or the school in front of your child.
“Remember, you are all part of a team — you, your child, and the teacher. It is your job collectively to ensure your child has a great school year. Communication is the key.”
There are lots of different ways you can get involved in your child’s education — attending conferences and school events, chaperoning field trips, volunteering, taking part in the PTA, etc. But the most important of all is establishing a good relationship with your child’s teacher.