The school year is officially in full swing. No more “getting to know you” activities or tiny projects to gauge students’ knowledge. This is the time for unit tests, big projects, and progress reports. Not only are students overwhelmed with work (and trust me, we are), but parents are starting to feel more distanced from their child. They send their child to school for 6 1/2 hours a day, and often have no idea of what happens behind those school doors. Don’t worry it’s not too late to learn about your child’s school day!
These are some ways to figure out what is going on…
1. Talk to your child.
Don’t just ask your child “How was your day?” unless you simply want a one word answer to end the conversation. This question does not increase communication between parent and child. Rephrasing your questions can help you learn more about how your child is actually feeling and what he or she is doing during the school day. A child will share more when asked specific, guided questions. Here are some great questions!
2. Talk with other parents.
Meeting with other parents can facilitate a discussion about what is happening in the classroom. They can inform you about things going on that you might not have known about. By forming bonds with other parents, you can all be advocates for your children together.
3. Talk to your child’s teacher.
Back to school night might have already passed, but there are still opportunities to learn about the upcoming curriculum. Emailing the teacher to ask questions is a perfect tool! (Be sure to not overwhelm him or her with emails; be the teacher’s friend, not his or her stressor). You can also try to schedule a conference either in person or via the phone with the
teacher to check on your child’s progress. Your child’s teacher wants your child to succeed just as much as you do, so work together for the betterment of your child.
4. Volunteer at your child’s school.
During the school day, parents can volunteer around the school or in the child’s classroom. Parents can attend school parties or chaperone school field trips. Parents who want to get more involved can also join the parent association for the school. Parents who are not available during the day can volunteer for events that are after school hours or during the weekend. By volunteering, parents can learn about the dynamics of the school. When parents volunteer in their child’s classroom they can get a glimpse of how their child acts during school hours. This can also give you the opportunity to observe what activities your child does during the school day.
5. Visit the school’s website.
School websites are very informative. Most websites include a school calendar with upcoming events, programs to help parents feel involved in the school community, as well as pictures of the school. Checking this website regularly can help parents stay informed.
6. Ask to see your child’s folder or backpack.
Checking your child’s folder or backpack is the easiest way to get involved in your child’s academics. Completed assignments or tests are a great way to monitor your child’s progress and keep you informed as to what is going on in the classroom. Asking to see these papers can help you be more proactive and can prevent your child from falling through the cracks; it also discourages your child from hiding less than stellar grades. Additionally, this can help you ensure that your child completes all the homework assigned and is prepared for any upcoming tests.
7. Help your child with homework.
By sitting with your child while doing homework or checking completed homework you can better determine how well your child is grasping the curriculum. If you see your child is struggling you can either help your child yourself or get help for him or her. By knowing what your child is struggling with, you can help reinforce the skill using everyday situations. For example, if your child is having difficulties with subtraction, then at the grocery you can grab 10 apples and have your child subtract 3 to see how many are left. This will also help your child see how school learning is applicable to everyday life.
8. Help prepare your child for tests
Similarly, helping your child prepare for a test is a great way to get involved. This can help you understand what your child is learning in school and how they are performing. You can also provide the support your child may need if they cannot grasp the material in the classroom.
9. Read with your child.
Reading with your child is a great way to enhance your child’s literacy skills. However, it is also a good way to assess your child’s reading competency compared to the grade-level expectations. By reading with your child every night you not only have quality time together, but you help build a lifelong reader.
Although your child spends the bulk of his or her waking day in school, there are easy ways for parents to feel connected. It is important that parents know what is happening while their child is at school so they can help their child excel. By using these tips, parents can be more involved and research shows a child performs better in school when his or her parents are involved.
Written By: Emery Tedesco
Emery Tedesco is heading into her second year as a college student at the University of Delaware. She is studying Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. Emery continually dedicates her time at Lakeview Elementary School aiding in a second grade general education and special education integrated co-taught classroom, assisting in summer reading/math camp, and volunteering in any classroom in need of support so she can continually spend time with children and refine her craft. At the University of Delaware, Emery dedicates her time to helping children through Project Sunshine whose mission is to bring joy to children in the hospital. In addition, she is a member of the Association of Pre-Professional Leaders in Education (APPLE). APPLE helps inspiring educators learn about the best steps to take as future teachers.
“10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2016. <http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-elementary.html#>.