In today’s fast-paced world, it’s becoming more important than ever to be actively engaged in your child’s education. The things they are learning in school are vastly different from the things you may have learned, not to mention the methods with which they are being taught are unlike anything you may have seen before.
But with the changing times comes new ways to stay in the know about what your children are learning and how they are doing in school. You are the key to your child’s success. Since everything is so different, it’s understandable that sometimes you just may not know where to start, so we’ve found the six most effective ways to get connected.
1. Make appointments as needed to discuss your child’s progress or your concerns.
These appointments create dedicated time for yourself and the teacher to address specific issues or accomplishments relating to your child. You can meet with the teacher as often as you find necessary, from a couple of times a year to maybe once a month. The frequency should be determined based on your availability and how active you would like to be in your child’s learning. Attending parent-teacher conferences is also a great way to talk about these things.
2. Share expectations and set goals for your child with their teacher.
At the beginning of the year, you can discuss the things you would like to see your child achieve by the end of the year so that the teacher is able to help your child specifically work toward those things. If they are able to make that happen before the end of the year, you can set some new goals to reach to get through to the end. If teachers know what you are expecting of them, it enables them to focus on what’s most important, and vice versa for you as the parent.
3. Address concerns or questions honestly and openly.
Is there something that your child is learning that you don’t understand or that you may not agree with? It is okay to ask their teacher(s) to clarify the subject for you or to address any concerns that you may be having. Education is a partnership between parents and teachers. But in order to be successful at it, you have to be able to have an open discussion without hesitation.
4. Share your child’s strengths, talents and interests with their teachers.
This is the kind of information that gives your child’s teacher the insight they need to cater to their educational needs. If the teacher knows where your child’s strength lies or what’s most interesting to them, they can find a way to implement those things into what your child is learning. Having their strength or interest integrated into school makes the subjects they’re learning more appealing, so your child pays more attention and grasps more of the lesson.
5. Read classroom and/or school newsletters.
You will always know what is going on in the classroom and in the school if you take the time to read the flyers, newsletters and other paperwork the classroom and school send home. Visiting the school’s web page is another way to stay up-to-date on what is happening as well. Sometimes teachers will post a syllabus, lesson plans or other documents on the site so that you can make yourself aware of what your child will be learning.
6. Attend parent education fairs and other special events at the school.
Schools will often have these types of events throughout the year. It is important to attend as many of them as possible, as there is a lot of useful information shared during these fairs and meetings. It is also a great opportunity for you to connect with other parents who are just like you.
Helen Westmoreland is the Director of Family Engagement for National PTA.