While it is of utmost importance to most parents for their child to have positive experiences at school, many parents often struggle to find ways to be involved in fostering those experiences. Some parents may leave the responsibility solely on the school, while others may take an over-active role and minimize the importance of school staff. But the ideal outcome is the development of a healthy partnership between parents and their child’s school staff.
Research shows that parental involvement improves not only a child’s behaviour and attendance at school, but their academic achievement too. Studies further reveal that the family’s involvement with their child is more important to their child’s school success than how much money the family makes, or even how educated the parents are. When parents are involved in and learn about their child’s functioning at school, they can work collaboratively with the school to help facilitate learning, including motivation for and a positive attitude about school. So parents, here are several ways you can collaborate with your child’s school; rest assured that your child will reap the benefits from this powerful partnership.
Meet your child’s teacher. Introductions lay the foundation for communication throughout the school year. Whether it’s through attendance at a school-arranged meeting, or initiated by you as the parent, engagement in an introduction sends the message that you are interested in and supportive of your child’s school-day experiences.
Maintain an ongoing relationship. Parent-teacher conferences are usually held at regular intervals, and they are an excellent way for you to see your child’s classroom in person (so you understand the environment in which they spend their days), review your child’s work samples, and formally discuss your child’s areas of strength and need. However, you can request to speak to your child’s teacher at any time throughout the year. Research shows that in order for communication to be effective in facilitating a positive relationship with your child’s school, it needs to be frequent, open, and honest. With that said, relationship building does not have to be in person, as most schools allow for messages to be sent through email, notes in your child’s agenda, or even through an app.
Ask questions. If you have concerns about your child’s academic or socioemotional skills, raise them and seek advice or perspective from their teacher, principal, or other school staff. This shows that you value their expertise, and that you are an observant and caring member of your child’s team. This also creates the opportunity for a collaborative effort to support your child’s improvement.
Learn what the school has to offer. Take the time to read newsletters and other event notices (e.g., for upcoming fieldtrips, picture or other theme days, etc.) that are sent home with your child. Find out what remedial or advanced programs and extracurricular activities are offered through the school that your child may benefit from or enjoy, then encourage participation.
Volunteer at your child’s school. Being available to help when needed is a hands-on way you can demonstrate your desire to be an active member in your child’s educational world.
Get to know who’s who at the school. There are many people involved in and available for your child’s learning, maturing, and navigating at school. Find out the roles and responsibilities of each member of the school team so that you can direct your questions and feedback to the appropriate personnel.
This article was written by Dr. Kerris del Rosario, psychologist with del Rosario Psychology & Psychotherapy Group in Milton and Kitchener, Ontario. del Rosario Group provides personalized assessment and therapy for children, adolescents, adults and couples.
- Twitter: @DrKerris