Public Schools

Helping Your Child Make the Most of School

As a parent, your child's education is at the top of your list of priorities. But chances are, you're not doing all you can to help your kids get the education they deserve. Just dropping them off and picking them up at school isn't enough – studies have shown that the kids who do the best in school are the ones whose parents take and active role in the learning process.

Talking to the Teacher

Don't wait until there's trouble at school to talk to your child's teacher – meet them early in the school year and check in frequently. Get acquainted, show your interest, and give teachers information they need to know about your child. If they have special needs or difficulty in certain subjects, share that with the teacher. You should create open communication with the teacher so that you know where problems lie long before the report cards come home. Remember, your child's education doesn't rest entirely with the school – ideally, parents and teachers should work together to make learning interesting for children, and to teach them self-confidence and good work habits.

Make the most of parent-teacher conferences by planning ahead – be prepared to listen to what the teacher has to say and to ask questions about your child's work. If necessary, write down a few questions before you come to the school, as well as comments you want to make to the teacher. During the conference, take notes and ask the teacher to explain anything you don't understand. During the conference at the school, the teacher should offer specific details about your child's progress. Ask how your child is being evaluated, and how grades are determined.

Taking time to help

If you can, volunteer to help out in the classroom where possible, by helping to chaperone field trips or as a "room parent" who helps out with special events. If you can't spare the time to volunteer at the school, there are still a number of things you can do at home to reinforce the education your child receives at school, such as:

  • Reading to your child, and having your child read to you.
  • Talking, singing, and playing with your child.
  • Adding new and interesting books to your home library.
  • Asking your child to read recipe directions to help out with meals, and teaching them how to measure the ingredients.
  • Using flashcards to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts at home.
  • Asking your child to think about life without electricity, and discuss his/her responses.
  • Discussing different kinds of jobs and careers in the community.
  • Sharing interesting newspaper and magazine articles with your child.
  • Having clay, crayons, paint, paintbrushes, blocks, puzzles, and paper available at home for your child.
  • Listening to music together.
  • Checking with your local park district or other community resources for after-school activities.
  • By devoting a little time and attention to your child's education outside of school, you help to reinforce that learning isn't just a 9-to-5 responsibility. You're also letting them know that you care about how they do in school, and that they have you support whenever they have problems. With you and the teacher working together as a team, your child is more likely to succeed.

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