02 September 2011

10 Ways To Get Involved With Your Child's Education

Linda Pickering, a sixth grade English teacher at McCall Middle School with 22 years experience under her belt, and Jacquie Murphy, a math Teacher at McCall with eight years teaching experience, recently sat down with Patch to discuss 10 ways to get involved with your child's education. Here's what the teachers had to offer.

  1. Set a Routine – Discussed over and over again by the two teachers was the importance of setting a regular routine for bed and wake up times, meals, pick-up/drop-offs, leisure time, study time, extracircular activities -- really, whatever fills you and your child's day. “It's of the utmost importance to hold to a regular schedule,” Pickering said. “Teachers recognize there are working parents, there are single parents and all different families as well. Regardless of family structure, daily routine is most important to success in school.”
  2. Be Prepared – In line with setting a routine, make sure all homework, books and other materials are prepared the night before so there is no rush or confusion in the morning or at any other time during the day. A few minutes of preparation the day before a big test or before a field trip can save a lot of time and undo stress.
  3. Attendance! - Being on-time to school may seem trivial on any given day, but, “a rushed school day is often a wasted one for some students,” explained Murphy. “Tardiness and absenteeism negatively affect student performance and can compound any other troubles immensely.” Adding to this, Pickering and Murphy recommend trying to avoid taking your child out of school unnecessarily whenever possible so your child doesn't fall behind.
  4. Manage Extra Circulars - “The balance between school work and extra circular, be it in school or out, is paramount to a balanced school and social life,” explained Pickering. Pickering and Murphy stressed that parents should know the activities their child engages in after school and understand why and what your child wants to do with these. “Don't be afraid to set limits if extra circulars are getting in the way of school work,” added Pickering. 
  5. Follow Your Child's Education, Don't Lead - “If the parent is doing more work or the "heavy-lifting" in terms of school work for the child, then something is wrong,” detailed Murphy. She went on to explain that parents have a way of trying to make up for a child's short-comings at times by over-reaching. It's best to sit back and let your child make mistakes, ask for help him or herself, then simply do the homework for them. In this scenario, the child learns nothing.
  6. Focus on Respect and Responsibility – The two R's. Respect and responsibility are a major part of any child's development and are two key factors in a complete education and healthy lifestyle. “Although we teach these traits in school, the majority of what kids learn about respect and responsibility comes from the home,” explained Pickering. 
  7. Social Understanding – Think about volunteering at school, joining the PTA or School Committee, something that gets you more involved with your child's education without totally controlling their education or social life. This goes double for understanding the kids and parents of whom your child has become friends with at school. “Today there are a lot more ways to socialize, whether it's on a cellphone or computer. If necessary, monitor your kid's cellphone and computer use, especially at younger ages,” detailed Murphy.
  8. Encouragement – Encouragement becomes one of your best friends when raising a child through middle school and high school. “Encourage your students to seek help if needed and keep an open dialogue about their problems and success […] Give your child the power and language to engage teachers on their own and push them to complete their own work with appropriate encouragement,” explained Pickering. “As kids grow, parents have to take more and more of a backseat to their child's education and social life and that can be tough for some,” added Murphy.
  9. Homework - “Guide, not do, that's the biggest thing,” mentioned Murphy. “When helping with homework, let you child be in control of their work. The message you send when you do their work for them is they can't do it and could fall behind regardless of this temporary fix.”
  10. Attend Parent Conferences and Open Houses - “These are important because, as a parent, you want to get familiar with what the school expects from your student. Also, getting to know faculty is a good idea so you can go to them with any immediate problems,” explained Murphy.

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