School is an important period in every child’s life. This is when their educational development is fostered and nurtured the most. Until that point, more than likely the child’s parents were the main contributors to their development. However, once children start school, it is important that parents remain involved in their everyday learning and engage with their children’s schooling to further that development.
According to the National Education Association (NEA), parent engagement in schools can improve children’s test scores, social skills, attendance, and many other areas of education.
There are many ways that parents can engage with their children, in school as well as at home, and families may nurture children’s development and education. Here are a few examples:
Tips for Parents to Engage with their Children’s Education
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1. Foster open communication between parents and teachers.
Communication between parents and teachers is fundamental. If there is a positive and supportive relationship between parents and teachers, both sides will be able to create a foundation to further the child’s development.
Also, the relationship between teachers, parents, and the child will be of importance. If the child is involved in the communication process, there may be a greater chance of success, as they will be able to tell their parents and teachers what they need, want, have trouble with, etc.
Having the child’s input greatly helps parents and teachers have better insight into what the child may need apart from others in the classroom. For example, when we went to our daughter’s first parent-teacher conference last fall, we learned more about her likes and dislikes in school and her learning style as noticed by her teacher.
Additionally, we learned how the teacher was implementing her lesson plan to fit her students’ needs. She had my daughter complete a questionnaire sharing her favorite subject and her favorite part of school. This, along with my daughter’s report card, helped us better understand how we can supplement her learning at home and allow her needs to be met in the areas she needs help in.
There are also some great apps like Dojo (the one we use) that help the teacher interact with parents by sending pictures of field trips, lessons done in class, special class visitors, etc. This helps connect parents to their children and engage with their children’s school by stimulating conversations outside of school, and it helps the working parents keep up with what their children are doing at school.
2. Volunteer in classroom activities.
To make sure their students adapt to a school or classroom environment, teachers rely on parent engagement, school associations, and other teachers for support. There are various school associations and programs that parents can get involved in to support teachers and create a thriving learning environment.
Each family is different in their availability and other dynamics, but there are numerous ways to influence your child’s learning. One way to directly affect this is to volunteer in the classroom.
When parents have the availability, teachers will use parent volunteers to help with certain activities or projects and field trips so parents can be more hands-on with what their children are doing in the classroom. This is a great way to get to know the classroom dynamics and see how the children interact with each other as well.
The parent volunteer can help in the library during reading times, go on field trips, work in the front office, and help the teacher with various tasks throughout the school day.
Volunteering in your child’s school library is a great way to bond with your child and witness how your child is learning at school. You can also spend time reading with them and to their class, help children fuel their interests by finding the right books, and help with the school book fairs, etc. This is a great way to help the school and build relationships in and out of the classroom!
3. Participate in parent-teacher organizations & meetings.
The Parent–Teacher Organization (PTO) also serves as an important influence in a child’s learning environment, and it will allow parents to be updated on what is happening at school, engage by assisting in fundraisers and events, and influence their child’s learning in a different way.
The PTO holds meetings monthly (typically) and provides a direct relationship between parents and teachers who participate. The PTO also allows parents to meet other parents and share ideas on how they can support their children at home and at school.
Tip: If you can’t join the PTO, find a parent who is in the PTO, and you can get updates that way as well! This often strengthens the communication between both groups and gives a foundational level of support for your children’s development.
Some great contributions of the PTO that I’ve noticed are certain programs they’ve helped to fund for the school to use in enriching children’s math learning. They’ve also found a great company that turns your child’s artwork into a gift.
For example, they will take the artwork and print it on a mug, oven mitts, etc. This way the parent can have their child’s artwork for years to come. This is also a fantastic way to acknowledge what your child is doing at school and to make them feel like you appreciate their abilities as well. A small gesture can go a long way when it comes to your child’s education!
Attending parent-teacher conferences (which are usually held once per semester) is one of the most essential ways to engage with the teacher and learn how to help a child’s development at home to supplement what is going on in the classroom.
4. Reinforce school learning with developmental activities at home.
One specific way to supplement school activities is to foster healthy reading habits by reading to your child and have them read to you. In elementary school, children start learning how to read, write, and put words and sounds together. This is an ideal time to start this activity. It will have a positive effect on how they approach their learning.
Reading with children at home for about 20 minutes each night is the general recommendation to have a substantial impact on their development. While this can be difficult for some families to fit in due to time commitments, etc., any amount of time parents can read to or with their children encourages their education.
Parents have more of an influence on what children do at home than at school. This is why most of their support will happen at home. Children learn by example, so parents who make their children’s education a priority, through action, will foster that development further.
By doing activities such as reading, helping with homework, and monitoring how they are spending their time, parents can be a great source of support for enriching their children’s educational experiences and engage with their children’s schooling.