Help your child succeed in school

One of the best ways that parents can help their children succeed in school is to be involved with their education. This starts with communicating well with your child’s teacher. Basically, good communication involves meeting the teacher, being a positive and courteous partner in your child’s learning, and keeping the lines of communication open in various ways throughout

the year.

Meet the teacher

Go to your child’s parent-teacher meetings. Even though time may be short, a few simple steps can show your interest and support. Introduce yourself and your child.

Collect any information the teacher provides.

Make sure you schedule a meeting with the teacher if —

• Your child has special needs and your teacher needs to know this early in the year.

• Your child’s grades drop suddenly.

• You suspect that your child is having difficulty understanding her/his schoolwork.

• Your child is upset about something that happened in school — with peers, or with the teacher.

• Your child does not seem to have any homework.

• Something changes at home that may affect the student’s learning (for example new baby, parental illness or upcoming move).

Find the right time to talk to the teacher. If you are at school, you may run in to teachers and be tempted to ask about how your child is doing.

At school, ask the teacher if it is a good time to talk or when is most convenient for him/her. Just before or after school may not be the best times.

If you run into a teacher around town, simply exchange pleasantries. This is not the time for a parent-teacher meeting.

Be positive and courteous

Many teachers are overworked and underappreciated. Speaking in positive ways opens up the lines of communication so you can work together to help your child succeed in school.

Open up communication with phrases such as “Can we talk about…?” Avoid criticising and blaming the teacher with comments such as “You should have…” or “You must be mistaken.”

Make respectful requests, such as “Could you send home the information about…?” Avoid giving orders to the teacher by saying, “You have to….” or “You need to….”

Use kind words rather than fighting phrases. For example, “Please, could you…” and “Thank you for all you did,” go a long way in building a good relationship.

Accept differences Sometimes you may really ‘click’ with a teacher and other times it may seem a struggle to keep the lines of communication open.

Listen to the teacher to get a sense of who s/he is. Hear what the teacher has to say about his/her expectations, classroom, and your student.

Don’t argue with or criticise the teacher in front of your child.

Try to work things out with the teacher before going to the principal.

If you have conflicts with the teacher, remain calm. Listen, be positive, and talk things out.

Be a partner

Thirty years of research shows that children do better in school when their parents are involved. Some of the most important things you can do are to —

• Help with homework as needed and appropriate.

• Help your child learn the skills needed to manage time and stay on task.

• Ask teachers for clarification on instructions and assignments as needed.

• Talk about school matters with your child at home.

• Ask teachers what you can do to help your child at home.

At the same time, as your children get older, teachers expect them to be able to take on more responsibility and to function independently. Your child likely will want more and more autonomy as well. Help them build these skills while also continuing to be supportive.

Keep lines of communication open

Send a note of appreciation to the teacher when something goes well in her/his class, and mention this to the principal.

Give the teacher your phone number.

Ask what you can do to help with classroom activities, presentations or fairs, field trips, or

anything you can do at home.