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Build a Strong Relationship With Your Child's School

Develop a strong relationship with your child's school to help him excel

Did you know that when parents are involved with schools, their children do better in many subjects? Building a strong parent/school relationship means parents and schools communicate actively with each other. By getting involved, you show your child that you value school and education, and you increase your child's chances for success.

Schools vary a great deal in how they communicate with, work with and welcome parents. Even so, there are things parents can do to foster a relationship.

1. Get to Know Your Child's Teachers

When school opens (or any other time your child gets a new teacher), go into school and introduce yourself or call or write a note. Make an appointment to meet the teacher and talk about your child. Describe your child's particular strengths and interests or areas where your child may need extra help. Teachers appreciate families who take the time and make the effort to get acquainted.

2. Ask Questions About the Curriculum

For example: Can I visit a class? What is your approach to (a particular subject)? Will my child be placed in a particular ability group? If so, how are the placement decisions made? What "hands-on" materials do you use? What if my child is having problems? Are there things I can do at home to help my child with schoolwork?

3. Ask the Teacher to Stay in Touch with You

Ask to be kept informed if things are going well and, especially, if they are not. Make sure the teacher knows your name, has your phone number and knows what time is easiest to reach you. If problems do arise, it is so much easier to handle them if you already know your child's teacher and have a comfortable relationship with him or her.

4. Spend Time in School Activities

There are many ways to be involved, including joining parent groups such as the PTO/PTA, attending parent/teacher conferences or volunteering for a school event or field trip. When a parent offers to help the school in any way, it tells the children, the teachers and the school administration that this adult cares about the education of his or her child.

5. Learn What Courses Your Child Needs in Order to Go to College

Ask guidance counselors to explain what course work is needed to meet college requirements, what standardized tests children should take and when to take them and what the results of these tests mean. Ask the school to sponsor an information session for parents on course selections and college or career planning.

6. Monitor Homework

Be sure your child is doing his or her homework. One way to let teachers know that you support homework assignments is by signing the homework sheets.

7. Find out What Tests Are Given and How the Tests Are Used

A major purpose of tests should be to find your child's strengths and weaknesses and to provide help when needed. Ask your child's teacher how learning is measured and to explain it to you.

8. What "Hands-On" Activities Will Your Child Experience?

Find out if your child gets to use equipment, not just watch someone else use it. Find out if there are problems for children to solve in groups where they can use real materials. If you feel there is not enough active, "hands-on" learning or too much textbook reading and answering end-of-the-chapter questions, talk to the teacher about it.

9. Stay Involved! It's Worth It!

As children move through middle school and high school, they may want their parents to be less involved. Keep connected to the school in ways that are comfortable for your child. Going to a football game, school play or back-to-school night may do the trick. Strong parent and school relationships can make a big difference in a child's future.

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