Once I became a parent my view on education completely changed. Not unlike other teachers who are parents… I started seeing things from both sides and wishing I could tell parents what I know to be true.
Communicate. Most of the time teachers are more scared of you than you are of them. Especially new teachers. There is no class on how to talk to parents and what to say. There are plenty of books about it…but honestly it’s simple. Just like parents sometimes feel intimidated about talking to teachers. Let’s help each other. No matter what the experiences of the past have been with parents or teachers. This is a fresh new year. A new start. Your children will benefit from your communication. Find out how your teachers likes to communicate. Email? Phone call? Texting? Although they should ask you the same thing…make the first step. Show you are there to help them help your children.
Volunteer. Even if you can’t take off of work to be in the classroom…ask what you can do. Even if it is something small. Every little bit helps. For example…I’ve been sending in my recycling items for the past month to Hucklebaby’s school to be used in the housekeeping center. Does it cost me anything? Nope. Do the kids love it? Yep. Little things that anyone can do. Can you cut things out? Organize? Get donations? Be an active part in the classroom. It makes all the difference.
Conversation. With your children. Talk to them. Ask them about their day. The best part, the worst part. Listen. Really listen and even better…ask them questions. Make them stretch out their answers, search for words they may never use. Ask them what they are planning on doing tomorrow. Even though they are little, they need to think these things through. It is one of my favorite things though. To watch how their brain is working and process their day.
Suggested by the US Department of Education, Talking and listening play major roles in children’s school success. It’s through hearing parents and family members talk and through responding to that talk that young children begin to pick up the language skills they will need if they are to do well. For example, children who don’t hear a lot of talk and who aren’t encouraged to talk themselves often have problems learning to read, which can lead to other school problems. In addition, children who haven’t learned to listen carefully often have trouble following directions and paying attention in class.
*As you walk with your child or ride with her in a car or on a bus, talk with her about what she’s doing at school Ask her to tell you about a school assembly or a field trip. Point out and talk about things that you see as you walk—funny signs, new cars, interesting people.
*As you shop in a store, talk with your child about prices, differences in brands and how to pick out good vegetables and fruit. Give your child directions about where to find certain items, then have him go get them.
*As you fix dinner, ask your child to help you follow the steps in a recipe. Talk with him about what can happen if you miss a step or leave out an ingredient.
* As you fix a sink or repair a broken table, ask your child to hand you the tools that you name. Talk with her about each step you take to complete the repair. Tell her what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Ask her for suggestions about how you should do something.
*As you watch TV together, talk with your child about the programs. If you’re watching one of her favorite programs, encourage her to tell you about the background of the characters, which ones she likes and dislikes and who the actors are. Compare the program to a program that you liked when you were her age.
*As you read a book with your child, pause occasionally to talk to him about what’s happening in the book. Help him to relate the events in the book to events in his life: “Look at that tall building! Didn’t we see that when we were in Chicago?” Ask him to tell in his own words what the book was about. Ask him about new words in a book and help him to figure out what they mean.
It’s also important for you to show your child that you’re interested in what he has to say. Demonstrate for him how to be a good listener:
*When your child talks to you, stop what you’re doing and pay attention. Look at him and ask questions to let him know that you’ve heard what he said: “So when are you going to help your granddad work on his car?”
*When your child tells you about something, occasionally repeat what he says to let him know that you’re listening closely: “The school bus broke down twice!”
If they can do it…make them do it. It kills me when I see small children start school and they are completely helpless. Their parents have done absolutely everything for them…and then one day they go to school and are alone. There is nothing more sad than the look on a little childs face when they are sitting in a huge lunchroom for the first time and have no idea how to open their food containers. Parents are not helping their children by never making them do these things. Make them self sufficient in things they will have to do alone at school. Don’t rely on the teachers to always be there. Teach them how to open containers, zip zippers and to help themselves.
Experience. Most of the time younger children don’t have real world knowledge to connect with when they are learning something new. They can’t relate to an idea if they have never seen, smelt or touched something similar. Talk to them about different businesses as you are driving down the street. Take them with you to run errands. Have them make dinner with you.
These are all simple things that you can do as a pert to help your child succeed in school.
Additional suggestions on how to help your children can be found here.