Get Involved! How to Actively Contribute to Your Child’s Success in School
Back to school means a fresh start and the perfect opportunity for new ‘school year’ resolutions – not just for your child, but for you as a parent. Regardless of last year’s successes (or challenges), every new school year is an opportunity to begin again.
The education experts at The Learning Partnership know just how important it is for parents to actively participate in their child’s education. Numerous research studies involving K-12 students found that parental involvement is consistently associated with higher student achievement outcomes across grades, standardized test scores, and overall educational outcomes.1 An engaged parent can make all the difference between a child who simply attends school because they’re required to, versus one who is motivated to be the best they can be – not just in school but in life.
So you want to get involved but don’t know where to start? Whether they’re in kindergarten or Grade 12, here are four ways parents can help their children succeed in school.
- Help your child get organized.
- Repetition and structure help children feel safe. It also teaches them responsibility and independence. Identify a routine that works best for your family – and stick to it.
- Think about different sections of the day (e.g. morning, after-school, bedtime) and establish a routine within those timeframes with consistent start/end times (e.g. waking up and going to bed at the same time every day).
- Have a family calendar in the kitchen and write down important school events such as parents’ night, when report cards come out, when your child’s soccer games will occur, etc.
- Provide a quiet space at home where your child can study without distractions.
- Help your child make lists and charts that will help him remember what he has to do. Give him a checkmark or star when each job is finished.
- Get in the know.
- Stay in contact with your child’s teachers to monitor progress throughout the year.
- Follow your child’s school timetable; know when tests are coming up or when projects are due.
- Understand how your child’s school communicates regularly with parents. Is it a monthly newsletter? Does the school rely on hard-copy communications or email and website/social media updates? Make sure you sign up or follow accordingly.
- Attend school meetings and special events to get to know other educators and parents.
- Use this information to be specific when you ask about their day at school. Instead of “How was your day,” ask questions like “How did your test go? What was the best/worst part of today?”
- Partner with your child’s school
- Volunteer. If you can’t be in school during the day, offer to make class phone calls for the teacher, help make costumes for the school play or make nutritious snacks for a class outing.
- Try to attend sports games, concerts, plays, or other activities at school.
- Get to know your child’s teachers and help them to get to know your child. Remember to thank them and to show your appreciation throughout the year.
- Support your child.
- Display school work on the refrigerator or family bulletin board. Let your child know you’re proud of him.
- Read to your young children and encourage older kids to read every day.
- Discuss current events, politics, and topics she may be studying at school.
- Have high expectations. Tell him again and again he can do well and be successful in school.
- Write a letter to your child’s teacher to help them better understand your child. Tell them about their interests, strengths, challenges and your own hopes – as a parent – for your child. Follow up with a ‘face to face’ meeting.
- Advise the teacher about anything special/different happening at home (birth of new sibling, death of grandparent, serious illness of student or family member) that may impact the student’s ability to concentrate or focus on the learning.
- Don’t just get in touch with teachers only when there is a problem. Try sending positive feedback in written form 3 to 4 times a year (e.g. thanking him/her for an interesting lesson that your child commented on, or a special trip planned for the class). Positive notes are treasured by teachers – they don’t need expensive gifts.
- If you’re concerned about something in the classroom, give the teacher the courtesy of discussing it with him/her first before going to the principal or superintendent.
- Don’t disengage when your child starts high school. Be proactive – go to school open houses, get a school calendar and know when events are happening. Find out about volunteer opportunities such as coaching, mentoring, and chaperoning. Be involved in a way that keeps you informed and still allows your student their independence.
These tips are provided by education experts at The Learning Partnership – a national, charitable organization dedicated to advancing publicly funded education, in part, through through innovative curriculum-based student programs.
1Jeynes, W. (2005). “Parental Involvement and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis”. Harvard Family Research Project
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