As kids go back to school, parents everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief … but don’t relax too soon. Kids of involved parents have higher self-esteem, positive attitudes toward learning, better attendance, higher grades and are more likely to go to college. To help your kids get the most out of school, partner with your kids teachers and share responsibility for their learning. Here’s how:
  1. Share your expertise. You’re an expert on your child. Fill the teacher in on his strengths and interests, personality patterns and specific learning challenges to help the teacher connect with him.
  2. Expect great things. Set high but realistic expectations for your child that are consistent with his age and ability and share them with the teacher. His expectations are likely to rise in response.
  3. Confront problems early. If you notice changes in behavior, grades, etc., alert the teacher. Working together, you may be able to avert problems before they grow more complicated.
  4. Respect teachers’ limits. Your child isn’t the only kid in the class, and teachers have a responsibility to ensure everyone gets the attention they deserve. Don’t ask to make exceptions that interfere — ask for additional resources and provide extra tutoring at home.
  5. Spend time in the classroom. If you can, volunteer in your child’s class. Your presence shows him you believe education is important. You’ll see first hand how the teacher works with him and how relationships with other kids affect his learning.
  6. Volunteer time outside the school day. Offer to prepare project materials or do research for an upcoming unit. Provide supplies for a class lesson or help grade papers in the evenings.
  7. Establish a family routine. Build time into kids’ schedules for reading and study in a designated, distraction-free location. Homework is much easier to accomplish at the same time and place each day instead of on the fly between soccer and piano lessons. Routines help kids manage stress and maintain healthy habits.
  8. Reinforce learning in real life. Find teachable moments outside of school. Test math skills at the grocery store. Read books together and point out spelling words or parts of speech.
  9. Watch your tone. Be calm and respectful if you have a complaint. Use specific examples and ask for the teacher’s ideas about what can be done. Remember, even if you disagree, you’re both on the same side. Your child is likely to lose if you get adversarial or aggressive.
  10. Show your appreciation. Send an e-mail to say how much your child enjoyed last week’s science experiment or write a note to the principal to compliment a job well done. Partnerships flourish when people feel appreciated.