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Parenting Tip of the Month

Home/school Communication (An easy step to improving grades)

Make no mistake about it; parents play the absolute key role in the education of their children. In the early 1980s, researchers identified parent Involvement as a key component of an effective school. Researchers identified six key areas in which parents should be involved in the education of their children. They are:

• Parents as volunteers in schools
• Parent’s knowledge and use of community resources
• Parents as advocates and decision-makers for their children
• Home/school communication
• Home learning activities
• Basic parenting skills

Of these six, there is a one-to-one correlation between home/school communication, home learning activities, basic parenting skills, and our children’s grades. That is, if parents do any one of these three things well, children’s grades go up.

Home/School Communication
There are lazy police officers, social workers, mental health professionals and yes, lazy teachers. Poor employees can be found in every profession. Nevertheless, the overwhelming number of teachers want the best for their students. Parents should do everything they can to support that effort. Home/school communication begins with our willingness to help, not criticize our child’s teacher.

Home/school communication is not a one-time, annual event. Research shows that if parents communicate positively with their child’s teacher/s at least six times during the course of the school year, children’s grades go up. Because teachers often have 20 to 30 students in their classes, it is up to parents to open the lines of communication with teachers. So how should we begin? Direct and friendly notes, conversations, or emails work best.

Example: Hello. My name is Mary. I am Bobby Ingles mother. First, let me say I appreciate how difficult it is to be a teacher. I want to help in any way I can. I would love to hear the great things he does in your classroom. If Bobby is ever a disruption in your class, I want to know that as well. Please call, or send me an email or text message immediately. I will intervene if he makes poor behavior choices. I also want to ensure that my child completes his daily homework assignments. In short, I want to make your job easier and help with my child’s education in any way I can. Thank you, Mary Ingles (777) 444-5555 [email protected]

It is rare today for parents to approach teachers in this proactive and positive manner. We all like to be told that our hard work is appreciated. Teachers love parents who are willing to make their job easier by taking an active role. For parents who do not speak English, find an adult interpreter, (preferably not one of your children) to help you get started. When we allow our children to interpret for us, about them, our message is often blurred.

According to the National PTA website, other tips for effective home/school communication include:

• Help teachers to better know your child. Include information on attention spans, their special strengths, behavioral issues, learning challenges and any changes
in family life. Divorce, for example, can cause significant emotional challenges for children. Teachers are better able to respond to our children if they are
aware of the circumstances.

• Ask teachers about their expectations and classroom policies regarding homework and how you can support them.

• Teachers are busy people. Ask them the method of communication they prefer and the best times to contact them. Give teachers your phone number and email address
as well. Remember that short messages work best.

• Be diplomatic. Choose your words carefully. Be positive and curious. Use phrases like, “I was curious about . . .” and “Can we talk about . . .” Try not to put
teachers or school staff on the defensive.

• Give teachers a few days to get back to you. If they do not respond, call or email them a short, but kind reminder.

Every parent may get a little defensive about his or her child. After all, these are our kids. Parents should be children’s strongest advocates. If we are honest, we know that we are not raising perfect little angels. Kids sometimes make poor choices and they are more likely to make those choices when parents are not around, such as when they are at school. If a teacher delivers bad news about your child’s behavior, try to get all the facts first. Second, focus on a solution to the problem. Try to work with the school staff to resolve the problem. Refuse to play the “blame game.”