Help Me To Help You
By Contributing Author, Running Girl of Kay Nou=Our House
It is very difficult to describe the atmosphere in schools these days. There is a lot of pressure on both students and teachers. What can we, as parents, do to help our children succeed in school? As a parent and educator, I offer the following suggestions:
Make sure your child is in school everyday and on time. This is crucial.
Parents can show an interest in their child’s education. Check their backpack every day. A lot of information comes home from the school and from the classroom. Find a spot to keep important papers and dates. There are papers you only need to read once and those that you’ll need to refer to all year long.
Talk with your child about their day. What “special” did they have today? Whom did they sit with at lunch? How were things on the bus? What did they learn about in math? Show an interest in what is going on in school. Eventually, they may start sharing about their day before you can even ask. Try to figure out when your child is most willing to divulge information. Some share best immediately after getting off of the bus. Others need time to reflect before they share about their day. The car can be a good place to talk, if either of you has something difficult to talk about. The car is a place where you don’t have to make eye contact. You have undivided attention, but don’t feel like you are under the microscope.
Have a routine for homework. Often, the best time to get it done is when a child first gets home. Have a spot to do homework. Turn off the TV and keep distractions to a minimum. The homework might be easy in the early years, but a good routine will pay off later when the work gets harder. Send in specific questions about homework to your child’s teacher. Let him or her know if homework is taking an inordinate amount of time.
Email questions and concerns to teachers or send a note in to school. This gives the teacher time to reflect and return your email when it’s convenient. Let the teacher know the best time to reach you, and whether you prefer an email or a phone call. The teacher can collect the information needed and be better prepared to address your concerns.
Teachers are bound by the clock. During the school day, they have limited time. It is often easier for them to return calls to you, rather than for you to try to catch them. Drop off and pick up times can be chaotic for teachers. They are responsible for the children from the minute the children reach their doorways. It’s hard to give parents the attention they deserve during those times.
Remember that if a problem comes up, and you know it will, the end result you want is a solution to the problem. Although it’s often tempting, try not to play “the Blame Game.” Take time to find out all of the facts and then reflect on what you should do. Work together with the teacher and school to find the best solution for your child. Everyone wants your child to succeed.
If you are addressing an uncomfortable topic or are angry, it can help to write out a script for yourself. This will give you time to word it in such a way that a teacher doesn’t have to become defensive. Again, you want solutions, not just to prove that you are right.
Some schools are now posting grades online. Find out how to log on. Check grades regularly. This will avoid “sticker shock” at the end of the grading period. Also, ask your child about assignments posted there.
Character Education should not be left up to the school alone. Parents need to demonstrate good character traits and talk about them with their kids. Find “teachable moments” that come up in day-to-day life and share them with your child.
Attend parent/teacher conferences. This is your chance to speak with your child’s teacher one-on-one. You can address questions and concerns you may have. Write your thoughts down ahead of time, so you don’t forget. Takes notes during the meeting, so you can reflect on the conversation later. Ask your teacher how you can help support them at home. They may have specific ideas of things you can do at home.
Read to your child. Visit the local library. Let them choose books that are interesting to them. Let your child see you reading too. They need to see that reading is important to you.
If you have time, volunteer at your child’s school. This will enable you to get to know your child’s school, teachers and classmates. Field trips are always the most popular times to volunteer. Remember that there are also other times when the teacher needs your help. Just ask!
Keep the teacher involved in changes in your home life. Who’s living at home? Are there changes in your child’s sleeping habits? Are there new medications that are affecting your child’s behavior? Are they feeling sad about something? Is there an exciting event coming up?
Most importantly, keep those lines of communication open. Keep positive. We’re all in this together. We need to stick together and help our children to succeed and grow.
As sports agent, Jerry McGuire, uttered in the memorable film of the same name, “Help me to help you.”
About the Author: Running Girl is the mother of 3, a wife, music teacher and long distance enthusiasts who lives in Western New York. Please visit her blog at kaynou.wordpress.com
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