Lessons from School

Parents Involvement

Research shows that one of the most important factors that affects a child's performance in school is parental involvement. All too often, parents assume that just sending their children to school and looking at their report cards is enough. Not true! If you want to be involved, if you want to actively participate in the relationship between your child and the school, there are some things you can do to make this relationship positive and productive.

Additionally, many children struggle in their classes which can lead to frustration, fear of failure and lack of caring about attending school. These attitudes can lead children on a troubled and dangerous path towards substance abuse and criminal behavior. Parent involvement in school, parents encouraging and enforcing attendance, and parent's ability to recognize early when a child needs additional help or mental health or learning disability assessment is critical to prevent children and adolescents from becoming a statistic of the criminal justice system. Below are some hints on how to stay involved with your child's school and how to create a home environment that supports and encourages scholastic achievement and student success.

How to Become Involved in Your Child's School

First of all, don't just show up at the school; make an appointment to visit. After you've made an appointment, go to the school; look around, talk to people. As appropriate, call or write to your child's teachers and talk to other parents about their experiences. Be sure to read the minutes of the school board, which are usually printed in the local newspaper. Take time to read the school newsletter, and it may not always be convenient, but try to attend school functions such as open houses and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings.

Steps to Support Academic Achievement & Student Success

There are things you can do that will help your child do assigned homework and that result in learning, which, after all, is the reason for being in school.

  • Communicate with your child about school. This includes talking to him about his friends, activities, teachers, and assignments.
  • Show enthusiasm about school and homework.
  • Do not allow your child to miss school other than for a legitimate illness or family emergency Missing even one day of school can get your child behind the rest of the class and lead to frustration and failure. Your child learns the importance of attending school very early in their school career and will quickly learn how to convince you to let, him or her, stay home from school if you have let them stay home previously for no valid reason.
  • Set realistic goals for your child, and then focus on one at a time.
  • Help your child get organized. Break down assignments into smaller, more manageable parts. Set out needed items (clothes, homework, permission slips, etc.) the night before to avoid last-minute rushing around in the morning.
  • Provide a quiet study corner in your home complete with paper, markers, a ruler, pencils and a dictionary.
  • Never do your child's homework!
  • Check with your child's teacher about correcting homework.
  • Expect, and praise genuine progress and effort. An opinion: don't praise or otherwise reward your child for doing what you and he know is expected. This practice leads you down a slippery slope, often with really bad consequences for you and your child.
  • Be specific when you praise something.
  • Focus on your child's strengths in school.
  • Build associations between what is taught and what your child already knows and understands.
  • Incorporate concrete materials and examples whenever possible, especially with younger children. Try to help your child learn about the subject in more than one way, using as many senses as possible.
  • Separate your child's school weaknesses from your child. If your child fails a test, that is all the child fails. He or she is not a failure.
  • One more thing: Never do your child's homework! (deliberately repeated)

Questions to Ask at a School Conference

  • Is my child performing at grade level in basic skills? Above/Below? Math/Reading?
  • What are the objectives my child is supposed to attain? How do these objectives lead to the overall goal for the course/grade?
  • What achievement, intelligence, or vocational aptitude tests have been given to my child in the past year? What do the scores mean? (Be very specific and be sure you understand completely what the reported scores mean).
  • What are my child's strengths and weaknesses in major subject areas?
  • What subjects does my child enjoy most?
  • Can we together go over some examples of my child's classwork?
  • Does my child need special help in any academic subject?
  • Who are my child's friends and how does he or she interact with other children?
  • Has my child regularly completed assigned homework?
  • Has my child attended class regularly?
  • Have you observed any changes in learning progress during the year? Has learning improved or declined during the year?