Education budgets have been slashed. Teachers are overburdened and underpaid. Now more than ever, parents need to offer a helping hand. According to a 2000 U.S. Department of Education Schools and Staffing Survey, 91 percent of teachers say lack of parent involvement is a problem in schools.Here are a variety of ways to get involved in your kid’s education and foster success in the classroom—whether you’re a stay-at-home mom with daytime hours to give, or a working parent with only evening hours to offer.
1- Become visible. As teacher I cannot tell you how many teacher parent conferences I have spent in my classroom alone. I just sit waiting for a parent to walk through the door. It isn’t because we haven’t told you. It was on the calendar at the beginning of the school year. We have called. We have sent letters home with the child and mailed them via postal mail. So “show up”!Make time for parent/teacher conferences and go to awards ceremonies, concerts, carnivals, science fairs, book fairs, and curriculum nights. The older your child is, the more important it is for you to be there. Often parents back off when children enter middle or high school. Attending these events may be the only way you can plug in at these levels.
2- Communicate- We live in the world of technology. A simple email to reach out and find out how your child is doing is helpful. It also allows for a method of trouble shooting and seeing any weakness in your child’s work. I have no enjoyment in failing a student. I write my email address in the front of your child’s notebook. I provide my cell number as well. Most teachers do that now. Homework now lives on a centralized web page for your child. Take a moment and look at the class page. You may be inspired by what you see.
3- Make yourself accessible. Even if you work outside the home, give your children’s teachers your direct contact information. I cannot tell you how many times a phone number supplied at the beginning of the year reaches an out of service line. It’s frustrating. If you’re at home but find yourself away often, give teachers your cell phone number. When teachers know you’re available, they’ll include you in much of what goes on at school.. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your children succeed.
4- Understand what is going on at school. Too often we go into school with an agenda based on our convenience. Set aside your preferences and ask yourself: How can I best support my children this year? and How can I best support their teachers? For some, working at the school isn’t feasible. But the time you spend talking to your kids about what they do in school and how they feel about it is just as important. Ask your children to set some goals for their school year. Offer whatever support they need to reach those goals. Then ask their teachers, “How can I best help this year?” Do not assume that the whole truth has been told in a situation. I cannot count the times I had an angry parent suddenly appear because they felt their child was harmed. After the yelling ceased and I pointed out the real crux of the matter there was a new approach.
5- Stay aware. At times, we’ve missed deadlines or overlooked a piece of homework or two. This can cause problems! I say “we” because as the grown-up, you need to supervise the contents of your child’s backpack It is in the sudden changes in your child that you spot the ship going off course. Stay aware. Remember the Titanic wasn’t sunk by one big gash but by numerous small gashes
Remember that teachers cannot do it all alone. We need your support as a parent to work in partnership with us.