A New School Year

Growing YearsIt’s a new school year, which makes this a perfect time to establish good interactions with school staff. I am encoring a series of articles I feel are important iin this endeavor.

One of the most profound statements concerning children and their needs is attributed to Hillary Clinton. She simply said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We live in a complex world, filled with many wonderful and fascinating things to do, see and learn. There is information all around us. Our children are growing up in this fast moving world. They will be expected to function and compete. No longer can you expect your child’s entire education to be completed in a classroom, and no longer can you be uninvolved. For years, I have stressed to parents, that they are the first teacher to touch their child’s life. A parent is the most important and consistent teacher, in a child’s life. Children who are well educated, raising to the top of their learning potential, can thank many teachers along the way, but they would not be so successful, without you, the parent, always “having their back,” educationally.

For a good education, it takes a good school, good parents, and above all the two working together. Studies indicate, children whose parents and/or other significant adults share or are involved in their education, tend to do better in school. They have higher grades, long term academic achievement, and positive attitudes and behaviors. The question, then, is not should, but, how do you become involved in my child’s education. Adapt these suggestions to your particular situation. In looking at how you can accomplish this, for your family, don’t forget your “village.” There may be a family member, or friend, that can “stand in” for you at times, when you can not participate.

ALWAYS MAKE A POINT TO MEET AND COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER. This goes far beyond parent-teacher conferences. You should arrange a 10 minute meeting in the first few days of school, to introduce yourself to the person that will be spending so much time with your child (call the school to arrange the meeting time). While meeting, stay only the allotted time. Be friendly, pleasant and positive. Find an acceptable way to further communicate. Ask about e-mail or a notebook for communication. Do not ask for, or expect, daily briefs on your child, as this would be time consuming, if done for every child. Do find out how the teacher will communicate to the parent what will be studied. Take advantage of the e-mail system and send off a weekly positive comment, and any other information you want to deliver. If your family is having a crisis, communicate this to the teacher, if you feel comfortable. It is not necessary to tell all, just alert to the possibility your child might display a change in behavior, either academically or behaviorally.

IF THERE IS A SCHOOL ACTIVITY, BE THERE. Participate in all PTA-PTO meetings and events. Go to all events sponsored by the school. Ask the front office for a list of school sponsored events at the beginning of the school year, and put them on your calendar. It is important that your child knows you will be participating in his/her school events. Be sure to talk with school administrators and teachers during these times.

IF YOU ARE AVAILABLE, VOLUNTEER. Volunteer with your classroom teacher your time, services or “goodies”, whatever you can do. You may help with parties by sending “something” or physically being there. You may be able to help the teacher with “good” rewards by collecting toys at drive-thus, etc..You may help grade papers sometimes, or be available to listen to children read. You may volunteer regularly or just one or two specified times. Ask the teacher what he/she needs. Don’t forget to ask the Principal if there is something you can do school wide.

TALK TO OTHER PARENTS IN YOUR CHILD’S CLASS. It is important for you to know the friends your child is playing and learning with, at school. Make an effort to know who they are. Talk to parents at parent meetings. Communicate via face book, e-mail or phone. Have play sessions with classmates, including the parent. Remember these are the children that will influence your child’s behavior in the future. Become involved now. Do not wait until he/she becomes secretive about relationships in the future. Start with open communication concerning friends.

TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT HIS/HER DAY AT SCHOOL. It is so important to talk to your child about the people he/she spends so much time with, and the activities of their daily lives. By doing this you are communicating your desire for him/her to be successful at school.