As a parent, it can be frustrating when your child seemingly is not receiving the attention at school that you believe he or she needs. Sometimes, the child’s teacher or the school or even the child may be limited in what they can do. Sometimes, the cause may be the quality of the education, or overcrowding in classrooms, or the lack of special education and/or honors classes. Or, sometimes the child may be in need of eyeglasses, or the subject of bullying, or simply bored for lack of a greater challenge.
What can you do as a parent? Parental support plays a crucial role in childhood education, regardless of a child’s age or grade level.
Here are some ideas for parental involvement in education that can help your child do well in school:
Meet the Teacher
At the beginning of every school year, make it a point to meet with your child’s teacher (or teachers, if they have more than one). This is a great way to get a feel for his or her teaching style and personality and gives you the opportunity to ask important questions, like:
- How much time is spent in whole group instruction?
- How much time is spent in small group instruction?
- How can a student receive one-on-one attention if they need it?
Beyond meeting the teacher(s), make your best effort to attend back-to-school nights and any parent-teacher conferences. Keep the line of communication open with the teacher(s), but also be respectful of their time.
Address Special Learning or Behavioral Needs
You know your child better than anyone. Especially if your child is older and has been in school longer, you probably already know if your child requires any kind of special arrangements. At any time during the school year, you are able to request meetings with teachers, counselors, principals and any other school staff to discuss either setting up or revising an individualized education plan (IEP). But, don’t get frustrated if you don’t get the response that you are hoping for. A lack of funding (the reason for overcrowded classrooms in the first place) might leave school officials’ hands tied for what they are able to offer.
Help with Homework
Homework – the bane of every child’s existence! If your child is younger, take the time to sit with him or her as they complete homework assignments. If your child is older, make sure that he or she has a quiet, well-lit space that is free of distractions to do homework.
Regardless of your child’s age, it’s a good idea to establish a homework schedule, or designate a specific start time for homework each night. Encourage your child to ask for help if needed. Even if he or she poses a question on a subject that you’re not familiar with, never answer with a simple “I don’t know.” Tell your child you’re not sure, but that you can help him or her to find out. Then, take time to show him or her the steps you take to search for the answer, equipping your child with essential problem-solving skills.
Build a Study Plan
Homework should go beyond simply completing the assignments the teacher has given. It’s important to teach your child how to study. Create a study calendar. Go through the calendar and write down when tests are scheduled, and then create a plan that gives your child plenty of time to study before each exam.
Start a study calendar when your child is young, even if it’s just planning for spelling tests. Mastering the art of creating a study plan at a young age will make it easier to implement as your child progresses through school and has to coordinate a more complicated plan with multiple subject matters.
Enlist the Help of Tutors and Online Courses
Sometimes, even the kids with the best of intentions encounter a subject that they simply cannot grasp. Make sure that your child knows that there is nothing to be ashamed about and that it is OK to ask for help. When they do ask for help, follow-though and get a tutor or find an online course that can provide a personalized learning path (there are many free options available). Whichever route you take, talk to your child’s teacher first to see what he or she would recommend.
Understand that not every child will ask for help when needed. This is especially true as your child gets older and may be too prideful to admit that he or she feels overwhelmed. Continue to talk to your child about school, including how he or she feels about classes, teachers and workloads.