A parent’s involvement with their child’s education is imperative, but staying informed does not always necessitate visiting the school site. Besides phone calls, emails, social media, and all manner of new apps, there is another crucial way parents can remain actively engaged and intimately apprised about what is going on at school—all without leaving their home.
The overriding objective should be to make the home-to-school experience as seamless as possible for all kids. To that end, frequent, focused conversations about school between a parent and child reinforce what the teacher is trying to accomplish in the classroom and reflect exactly what the child is accomplishing in return.
Building Constructive Conversations about School
Establishing and maintaining a routine of asking your child positive questions about school extends the learning experience into the home. By focusing your questions on four general areas of your child’s school experience, parents will over time develop quite a large and accurate knowledge base about what specifically is going on behind the classroom door.
The mere fact that a parent is closely interacting with their child about school on a daily basis goes a long way in proving to a child that their parent is truly interested in the entirety of their education, as well as emphasizing how important school really is. By regularly asking the following questions, no longer is the parent’s attention solely on homework and grades or on nagging and micromanaging.
Instead, the parent equally honors their child’s participation, passion, purpose, pleasure, process, and progress—both in school specifically and in regards to the unique, fully formed person each child is becoming. Imagine how refreshing such easygoing, affirming, expansive conversations about school will be for you and your child!
Parents can organize their questions for their child about school in the following four ways:
How does the teacher influence and empower your child to act respectfully, reliably, and responsibly?
In what ways does your child show consideration and cooperation to their teachers and peers while at school?
How does the teacher encourage and embolden your child to volunteer and interact while in class?
In what ways does your child freely share their ideas, insights, and opinions with confidence and contribute to class discussions, activities, or projects?
How does the teacher inspire and engage your child to be creative, to explore new interests, and to dream big?
In what ways does your child show curiosity, commitment, and contentment while at school?
How does the teacher enlighten, equip, and assist your child with the acquisition of new knowledge, wisdom, and skills?
In what ways does your child display comprehension and capabilities with regard to progressing towards (or beyond) standards-based assignments and activities?
With this leadership, love, laughter, and learning approach, parents and teachers share a common, comprehensive method of supplying every child with their core needs. Every kid thrives when the significant adults in their lives attend to the whole child and equally develop their interpersonal, emotional, aspirational, and intellectual needs.
Maintaining a Positive Focus
Notice that all of these question frameworks seek only positive information and evidence about your child, as well as their teachers. You are not out to get anyone, and this should be readily apparent to your child through the course of your many pleasant conversations about school.
Therefore, enter into these conversations with your child looking for reasons to be impressed with their teachers and as a chance for your child to show off their accomplishments, as well as their earnest attempts at improvement!
In order to highlight that success in school is a two-way street, it is important to include questions about the teacher’s attitude and actions, in addition to the child’s own contributions and choices. Both impacts matter, and this partnership between a dedicated teacher and a hardworking student ensures every child is moving forward, no matter how advanced or behind they may currently be.
Moreover, these conversations teach your child that education is actually a three-part relationship between student, teacher, and parent. If you want your child to be more communicative, prove to them you are on their side.
Consequently, much of these school chats should be approached as parent and child learning together, regardless of a parent’s educational background. If a parent does not quite understand what their child is learning—whether because they learned the same thing ages ago and have forgotten, because it is taught in a completely different way than they learned it, or because they never learned it at all—they should encourage their child to teach them. Besides being an empowering experience for any child, this demonstrates that your child has actually learned what they have been taught.
Of course, the questions listed above are a just a general outline. The key is to equally appreciate all the ways your child responds to their teachers’ expressions of leadership, love, laughter, and learning. As time goes by and your knowledge of your child’s school experience deepens, you will easily be able to craft questions that are specific to your own child’s needs and progress, as well as to pinpoint your questions to what is currently going on in all of their classes.
Involvement from Home Leads to Increased Parent Participation at School
All from home, a parent can indeed be informed and involved with their child’s education! Even better, these positive, productive conversations should eventually inspire reluctant parents to interact more with their child’s teachers and to join their school’s PTA/PTO.
Parents’ level of comfort and confidence, in both themselves as active participants and in their child’s teachers as trusted collaborators, will increase. These home discussions about school will certainly prepare all parents, from the most hesitant to the most enthusiastic, for more fruitful meetings with those teachers. You can even use these questions to facilitate your conversations with your child’s teachers.
When parents and teachers use a common leadership, love, laughter, and learning approach in their every interaction with children, they naturally complement and reinforce each of their impacts upon kids. Being allies in education is not an abstract concept; it is an intentional, interconnected partnership that benefits parents, teachers, and most importantly, students.
What are some successful ways you stay actively involved with your child’s education? Please share your ideas and experiences in the Comments section below.
This article originally appeared on the GetConnectDAD website.
For more on this whole-child approach and an extensive list of parent questions, read the new book by Robert Ward, A Teacher’s Inside Advice to Parents: How Children Thrive with Leadership, Love, Laughter, andLearning.
This book is available directly through the publisher at a 20% discount using the promotion code RLEGEN17 at checkout on the Rowman & Littlefield Publishers website.