This may be one of the most controversial posts I’ve written to date. So, let me first lay some groundwork for where I’m coming from. I spent a number of years in the education sector. I have been the principal of a Preschool-8th grade school. I studied education in college. And, I have been a professor, dean, and president at a small college in Indiana. As you can imagine, education is something that I love. I love to teach. I love the science of learning and studying how to instruct others to maximize their potential. It’s my passion.
Now that I have children, I am even more interested in education – mostly in terms of their success. I help with homework and regularly engage with them about things they’re learning. I try to give grace to the teachers and administrators as I hear about things that I would probably do differently. At the same rate, however, I am often impressed at the new principles that are being used and find myself in awe at how effective they are for my children.
But, let’s face it – not everyone is getting a good education. Every child is not excelling in school. There are still kids who aren’t making the grade, getting held back, and failing out of school altogether.
There’s one thing that you can do, as a parent, to ensure that your child is getting a good education, however. This one thing is scientifically proven. This one thing has a very high success rate. This one thing moves your child into the elite category of quality in education.
That one thing is that you are involved in their education.
It’s so simple that it’s amazing. But, study after study shows that when a parent is involved in their child’s education, the quality of the education increases and the likelihood of that child’s success exponentially increases. I’ve seen it myself. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum – parents who are involved and parents who are not involved – and the difference is staggering.
So, what do I mean by being involved? Here are a few thoughts:
- Do homework with your child. Help them, if possible and necessary. Ask them what they’re working on or what he/she is learning. Make homework time a priority and help your child understand it’s importance. Don’t ever communicate that homework is “busy work” or that it holds no value to the learning process. Be available and be involved at homework time.
- Volunteer in your child’s class. I know this one is difficult for working parents, but I think it’s still worth mentioning. I am working parent and I plan to take a day off of work to volunteer on a field trip. So, even if it’s not possible for you to volunteer regularly, try to be there a couple of times per year. There are often opportunities to volunteer after work hours too – at a pizza/movie night, a PTO meeting, or the different clubs or sports that exist. My wife, who stays at home with our other kids, volunteers one day a week at my oldest son’s school. She knows the teacher well and is even meeting some of my son’s fellow students.
- Communicate with your child’s teacher. You should know your child’s teacher and he/she should know you. Don’t go too far here and cross the line of being a controlling, overbearing parent, however. But a teacher should never not know who a child’s parent is. And, that teacher should know that they can reach out to you at any time to work through issues and road blocks together. Trust me, teachers appreciate parents who are involved and willing to assist with issues in the classroom. Help that teach know that you are in this with him/her and the your child’s education is not up to the teacher alone.
- Attend parent/teacher events at the school. It is amazing to me how many parents do not attend the parent/teacher events that schools work so hard to put on. The percentage of parents who don’t show up are often staggering. The school that my oldest son attends uses these moments as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between school and home. The teachers update us on what the students are learning and they give the parents tools to carry the education forward at home. It is quite valuable. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know the teacher better and to meet administrators.
- Talk with your child about school often. And, don’t leave the conversations on the surface. Ask about the best part and worst part from your child’s day. Dig into the specifics of the day. For me, I always ask about the special that my son had that day – these are classes like gym, art, music, and computers. I ask about those because they are different every day. I ask about who he plays with at recess and who got in trouble. By doing these things, I learn names and understand what potential issues there could be in the future. At it’s simplest form, talking to our kids about school often let’s them know that we care and it opens a door for them to open up to us when/if things get difficult.
What would you add to this list? Which of these do you excel at? Comment below and let me know…