September – Parent Involvement in Education
by Kelly Curtis.
Labor Day marks the start of the school year in many U.S. regions. With this calendar milestone comes a flurry of activity and often the beginning of very hectic months. But it’s easy to think that our job as parents is on hold, once our children are safely on the doorstep of their school or childcare center. While teachers work hard to meet our children’s needs every day, many would argue that parents that work collaboratively with their child’s teacher, will find greater success.
Search Institute has identified “Parent Involvement in Education” as one of the 40 Developmental Assets, which means research shows it’s a characteristic of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future. Parent involvement in education is defined as: Parents, caregivers and teachers together create a consistent and supportive approach to fostering the child’s successful growth.
Parent involvement can mean a lot of different things, which means that no matter what your other commitments, you can still remain engaged in your child’s education. I’ve seen both sides of the education street – that of educator and parent – and I know how much easier it is to meet the needs of students when parents are meaningfully engaged in a partnership with teachers.
Here are a few tips for keeping connected with your child’s education:
- Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher in person, during a time when he or she is not directly teaching. Most schools offer open houses, conferences or other planned events.
- Maintain regular communication that keeps the teacher in the loop regarding changes in your child’s life. The advent of email has made this profoundly easier.
- Recognize that your child’s teacher may not be available to communicate with you at the time when you want to talk. Educators have children in their charge most of the day, and meetings during the off-times. Be patient in waiting for a response to voice or e-mail messages.
- Find ways to engage – by attending programs, chaperoning fieldtrips, volunteering in the classroom, or even by making sure your child is prepared for school each day. These efforts make a significant difference in a teacher’s day – and your child’s.
- Show your gratitude. Recognize when your child’s teacher has done something that’s really helped your child. A simple “thank you” can be just the feedback that she needs.
Together, you and the teacher are better able to meet your child’s needs. And your engagement in his or her education tangibly demonstrates your commitment to it. That alone will pay dividends for years.
Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.