Your child's teacher may have shared this advice about parent-teacher communication with you already. If not, this is what teachers wish every parent knew about working together to support student achievement.
- Begin early to model learning at home. Let your children see you reading, conversing, wondering, solving problems, learning.
- Remember that your child is your responsibility. Become your child's advocate, in or out of school.
- Make a point of knowing exactly what occurs in your child's classroom, school, and life. Visit the school, observe classes, and review schoolwork that comes home. If little or none makes it home, find out why.
- Be positive about school and get enthusiastic about learning. Children will "catch" your attitude -- negative or positive.
- Encourage your children to discuss their days, classes, friends, hopes, and dreams. Be a good listener. Know your child.
- Contact your child's teachers and together plan the best times and methods -- phone, fax, e-mail, letters -- for parent-teacher communication.
- Request specific guidelines for helping with student homework. Some assignments may be appropriate for discussion, even 'coaching;' others may need only your encouragement and supervision.
Make Adolescent Books a Part of Your Home
- Build a complete, but inexpensive, library. Shop at garage sales, library sales, used bookstores. Include reference books for homework; favorite fiction for fun; classic for mature reading and thinking.
- Encourage -- even require -- that your child "reach for a book" rather than for the remote control.
- Insist that the school provide a textbook for each student. Regularly check to verify that the teachers are making progress and will finish by June.
Build Active Parent Involvement in Education
- Understand the school handbook and rules. Discuss these with your children and explain that you expect them to behave well at school.
- To insure that those brief parent-teacher conferences are used purposefully and get results, write out your questions before you arrive.
- Ask the teacher how you or the school can improve your child's learning. Listen carefully, "reading between the lines," for any hint that your support may be needed to advocate for more, or different, services.
Ask for Help in Learning Special Needs of Your Child
- Ask tough questions of professionals, especially at Individualized Education Planning Team (IEPT) meetings. Do not feel intimidated by "experts," for no one knows your child better than you do.
- Learn to read test scores, and request grade-level comparisons to help you better picture, and understand, any delays in learning or achievement.
- If your child is identified for special education services, request that the IEPT develop a plan, and a timeframe, for the process of remediation. Request a target date for the removal of the special needs label.
Work Together to Relieve Stress in Children
- Ask for information about the materials and methods being used with your child. Ask to be taught how to help your child at home. Request regular reports and test scores to show that goals are being carefully addressed.
- If you feel that your child would benefit from a home visit, ask for one. Teachers often wait for an invitation out of respect for the privacy of families.
- Notify the teacher of any stresses or worry your child may be facing, and be honest about any concerns or conflicts at school or at home. Help the teacher know your child as you do.
- Become your child's advocate, supporter, and "cheerleader." Send your child to school sensing that he is competent and capable; that he is courageous enough to attempt any new task the teacher assigns.