Studies show that effective communication between home and school, and a family's involvement in school life, contributes to a student's overall achievement and attitude about education. Through effective, organized communication and involvement in your child's school, you can nurture a life-long learner.
1. Get organized.
Go through the school's calendar and transfer breaks, holidays, half days, special events, parent-teacher conferences, and other important dates onto your calendar. Keep the school's handbook in an easy-to-find location.
2. Create file folders.
Designate a file folder for each of your children. Put information like the teacher's contact information, forms/documents, and information about upcoming events in each child's folder so that you can easily refer to it when you need it.
3. Advocate a team approach.
Prioritize parent-teacher conferences and show up at your appointed time. Bring questions about your child's progress and address any concerns you may have. Share what you know about your child's learning style and personality. Listen to what the teacher has to say about her observations. Discuss ways to address challenges.
4. Check in.
Between conferences, use email, phone, or appropriate in-person opportunities to check in with your child's teacher periodically throughout the year. For example, you might send a short email like:
"Hi, Mrs. Carlson. How's everything going with Johnny lately? At our last conference, we were concerned about his lack of focus in class. How are the strategies we implemented working out?"
Your child's teacher will have the opportunity to respond regarding the issue and bring up any another concerns.
5. Clue the teacher in.
If your child struggles with a particular assignment, requiring lots of extra assistance from you, make a note on the top of the homework to make the teacher aware that your child isn't grasping the concept. Also, advise the teacher if your family is experiencing a difficult time, such as a relative dying, a divorce, or other traumatic situation. Such events can affect a child's school work and behavior.
6. Pay attention to red flags.
Anytime you notice a troubling pattern, like an unusual amount of extra homework, homework not getting turned in, notes coming home about behavioral issues, etc., contact the teacher. If necessary, request a meeting between you, your child, and the teacher to discuss ways that together you can resolve challenges.
7. Talk to your child.
Ask your child about his day: What was his favorite subject that day and why? Who did he eat lunch with? What was the hardest part of the day and why? Ask for his ideas about how he could solve problems at school. Reinforce progress with positive comments and continued encouragement.
8. Read school communication.
Set aside time to read the school newsletter and any email communication from teachers to parents. Together with your child, go through his backpack each evening to go over any letters or forms coming home or create a home basket for your child to turn in graded work and any other information he brings home that you need to review.
9. Make yourself present.
The National Center for Education statistics finds a direct link between parental involvement and student achievement. Carve out time to volunteer at your child's school throughout the year. Through your involvement, you can get to know the teachers, staff, and other parents better — all excellent day-to-day sources of information. In addition, your participation will help your child see that you value education and that school life is an extension of home life.