Parental Involvement from K-12

Learn how direct involvement in your child’s education can impact school performance. Get expert advice on how to get involved, learn why and when you need to talk to a teacher and ways to make changes on campus.
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Parent-teacher conferences can be a bit unnerving for parents regardless of how many times they’ve attended. It can be difficult to cover all the questions you have in a short period of time, and you may even leave the conference feeling like you weren’t able to accomplish much. However, there are practical steps you can take before, during, and after parent-teacher conferences to ensure you have all the information you need to support your child’s learning.

Before the Conference

Parent-teacher conferences are often set up such that parents have precious little time with each teacher, in many cases 10-15 minutes at the absolute most. In order to get the most out of your appointment, come to the conference prepared. Begin by reviewing your child’s grades beforehand, including their report card, any progress reports, work your child has brought home, and any comments your child’s teacher has made on his or her homework. Gathering as much information as you can ahead of time will allow you to formulate questions to ask your child’s teacher and be ready to dive into the discussion once your appointment time arrives. Some possible questions to ask include:

  • Is my child performing at grade level?
  • What are my child’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What can my child do to improve academically?
  • What can I do to help my child improve academically?

It’s important to be prepared whether your child is doing well or poorly. On the one hand, if your child is struggling you’ll need to be familiar with why this is so, and examining his or her work can give you some insight into those reasons. It also allows you to be more informed ahead of time so you can ask your child’s teacher specific questions with regard to how to most effectively help your child boost his or her achievement. Conversely, being prepared when your child is performing well will allow you to utilize your appointment time to inquire about extended learning opportunities, such as clubs or organizations, or other non-grade issues such as behavior or relationships with other . . . read more

Parent volunteers have long played a vital role in public schools. From serving on the PTA to planning the class party, parents that give of their time, energy and talents are often responsible for making the public school system what it is for the students. However, few parents who immerse themselves in class volunteer projects realize the far-reaching benefits those few hours provide. Check out these 10 ways parental involvement improves school performance for the students and the schools themselves.

Positive Early Start
Parents are the first teachers children have, according to a report in the Tahlequah Daily Press. This gives parents the unique opportunity to positively influence students before the first school bell ever rings. By tackling those early learning issues head-on, parents are also better prepared to get involved with their children’s schooling once they head off to public schools.
“There is an obvious difference in children who have participated in activities from an early age,” Susan VanZant, the principal at Greenwood Elementary School in Oklahoma, told the Daily Press. VanZant added that the advantages can continue if parents remain in contact with the teacher throughout their child’s schooling.

“The teacher is always the first go-to person, especially with questions about curriculum,” VanZant explained. Teachers can also be the best contact for questions about discipline, behavior and social issues, unless another school employee is specifically appointed for this purpose. For example, Greenwood Elementary has a parent liaison that is specially trained to work with parents on these matters.
Higher Attendance Ratings
When parents are directly involved at school, attendance is likely to be higher. According to the Edmunds Sun, parents who volunteer in schools impart the importance of education to their children. This simple act helps to keep children in the classroom, especially during the high school years when regular attendance is critical to student success.
Improved Behavior and Social Skills
When parents and teachers partner together, it is much easier to address behavior issues in the early stages, before they become major obstacles in a child’s education. Parents need to know . . . read more
Making the move from middle school to high school can be a traumatic transition for some freshman. The changes involved in that move can be overwhelming at times, whether they are social, academic or physical. Suddenly, students that were guided through the academic process by parents and teachers are expected to perform much more independently than ever before. At the same time, high school is often a period where friendships change, as students struggle to figure out where they belong. The good news is that there are plenty of ways parents can help their new high school student adjust to the transition.

Understand Potential Stressors
According to well-known pediatrician Dr. Paul, there are many factors that can cause stress at this time of life, including:

  • Changes to school structure, including more teachers, larger school building and faster pace
  • Changes to body image, as students begin attending school with others who are basically young adults
  • Changes in friends, as students head to different schools and different classes than those they grew up with

With these changes come fear – fear of not fitting in, not keeping up and not measuring up to parental expectations. While many students may not voice these fears to their parents, that doesn’t mean the anxiety doesn’t exist. Parents need to tune into potential stressors in their child’s life during this time, so they can proactively help the child work through those anxieties and concerns.
Provide Reassurance
Once parents understand the factors that contribute to the stress of the high school transition, they can provide reassurances to their child that will help him make it through the stressful changes. Fox News suggests that parents avoid brushing off a child’s concerns by simply telling them “it will be alright.” Instead, talk to your child to understand the specific anxiety he is dealing with so you can provide appropriate reassurance for that particular situation.
For example, if your child is concerned about making new friends in high school, remind him of all the times he has successfully made friends in the past. Talk to . . . read more
Homework is the opportunity for children to practice the skills that they are learning at school at home. It gives parents the opportunity to assess how their child is doing in school and to give extra help when needed. Homework also provides students additional time to fully research and grasp important concepts.

Getting Homework Help

If you are having a difficult time solving a problem or finding the answer to a question there are several resources you can turn to. You may want to begin by asking an adult for help with your homework. Another resource is to look online to find the answers. There are several online sites that offer free tutoring help whenever you ask.

Search First! The Answer May be Right in Front of your Nose

Students often overlook obvious places to find the answers and solutions to the problem. Before you turn to online sources check your textbook for your answers. Carefully reading the assigned chapters can often help you find the information. Another great source is doing a quick search on the Internet.

Found Answer Online, How Do I Know If It's Right?

It is important to carefully consider your online sources when you are doing research. Sites that end and .edu tend to be more liable than other sources. News sources are generally accurate, but should only be used if they have been updated in the last year. Steer clear of sites that allow anyone to enter information or that do not list the sources of their information.

Study Tips

Creating good study habits can help you to complete your homework much more quickly. It is important to create a space where you can do your homework each . . . read more
Your kids will get better grades if you are involved at school!  A 2008 study from the University of New Hampshire indicates that students perform much better academically if their parents are involved in the school. However, that news can create more stress for already busy parents that are trying to juggle full-time jobs and child-rearing simultaneously. The good news is that there are many ways to get involved in your child’s school without taking time off from work or further taxing an already packed schedule. Check out these 10 ways busy parents can make a positive impact at their children’s schools.

Consider a Parent Club
Consider membership in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or similar group at your child’s school. Parent groups typically meet one evening a week or month to accommodate a busy work schedule. They are often involved in many of the all-school activities and stay abreast of the latest happenings within the school, according to Great Schools. PTA members get to know many of the school staff and play a role in the success of the school overall.
Sponsor a Student Club
Student clubs may also meet in the late afternoons or evenings, and they are generally looking for adult sponsors. High schools need parental help for sports teams, music and theatre productions and other types of after-school clubs. Even elementary and middle schools might offer extracurricular activities at a convenient time for your schedule, and in a subject where you can offer some expertise to the students.
Become a Class Reader recommends using your lunch hour or another time of day to offer your reading abilities to your child’s class. Elementary classrooms are always looking for parent readers, and it usually takes 30 minutes or less to make your contribution. Some schools even promote “surprise” guests throughout the year, which are often parents that come in once or twice a year to read their favorite story to the class. Ask your child’s teacher if she currently has a guest reader program in place or if . . . read more
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