Each school year is sure to pose many academic challenges for children in the classroom but it will also pose a challenge to parents: getting involved. Texas A&M University psychologist Rob Heffer, has been involved with child psychology for nearly 20 years and advises parents to take the time to think about all areas of their child’s life and develop a mission statement, much like businesses do (click here to download a great 1-page PDF of his study). Heffer explains:
The mission statement would clearly state what the parents want the child to take away from each of these areas. Parents should also think about their roles in these areas, analyzing their own strengths and then prioritizing their types of involvement with their child. Parents who make it a point to get involved with their child’s education are communicating the importance of education to their child.
He continues on to say:
In addition, parental involvement gives parents the opportunities to understand how the school along with its teachers have set its priorities. Parents have the chance to understand the curriculum their child is being taught and advance those themes at home.
Parental involvement also allows parents to communicate with the teachers about the child’s learning style and characteristics so that teachers can do a better job educating the child, giving the child a better chance of succeeding. He also notes that a lack of parental support and monitoring is a strong prediction of a child’s conduct problems late in life.
There are several ways to be more involved with your child’s education and even daycare experience and I’d like to share some of my favorite methods as well as the importance of involvement but I can’t stress enough, the key to any of this working is CONSISTENCY. In my research and personal experience as a mother of two over-achievers, I have found many useful methods including but not limited to:
- Reading to your child and having your child read to you and discussing what was read and their opinion about it, what they would have done differently, how it can relate to real life, etc. (National Education Association studies show that reading achievement is more dependent on learning activities in home than math or science)
- Checking homework every night and flipping through all the work sent that is home on Fridays together
- Discussing your child’s progress with the child and the teacher
- Constant rewards for A’s and B’s (not only monetary rewards but my kids also enjoy little things like picking what’s for dinner, which family game for game night or movie night and skipping an occassional chore or two)
- Visiting the school often to become a familiar face with teachers and staff (I’ve noticed this also impacts the way teachers/staff treat your children, as biased as it sounds that’s reality folks!)
- If you’re not able to visit for whatever reason, phone calls and emails are a great way to stay in touch (be sure to always be cordial and state your name and child’s name to the office staff members who answer the telephone!)
- Helping your school to set academic standards
- Volunteering or joining your child on field trips and occasionally for lunch
- Asking EVERYDAY “what did you learn today and tell me all about it”, asking questions and showing sincere and persistent enthusiasm and interest (ie: if your child has 7 classes set a goal that they must come home and tell you 7 things they learned, 1 from each class)
- Becoming an advocate for better education in your community and/or state
- Teaching and enhancing the child’s experience at home socially, emotionally and academically
- Visiting the classroom, volunteering to read to the class once per month and/or bringing in snacks for the class (this also impacts their social development… everyone wants be nice to and be friends with the kid whose Mom bakes cookies for everyone!)
- Educational games, workbooks and challenges at home (if funds are low, these can be created out of household items or free printable worksheets click here for an online database or click here for my favorite site)
- Joining and becoming an active member of the PTA board
- Do their homework with them to further stress the importance of it (your enthusiasm is intoxicating to your child! If you’re not excited and serious about it, most times they won’t be either because you are their hero!)
A January 2003 report from the National Center for Family & Community Connections with School s at the Southwest Educational Department Laboratory shows that a home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than income, educational level or cultural background. It has also shown that parental involvement has been proven to reduce absenteeism, improve behavior, restore confidence among children and parents and kids have the tendency to stay in school longer and enjoy school more.
Now, daycare is no exception to the rule! Daycare centers should not teach the child to nap, snack and play. Daycare providers should have a curriculum and set schedule to prepare children for success in grade school as well as enhance those skills in their current students. Schools should not be selected strictly for the location, convenience, affordable pricing or because we know someone who works or attends there but more-so after extensive research & observation of the school’s history AND THE FACULTY.
Below, you will find a few websites which are useful in some or most of these areas. The first listed under day-cares is a site where not only the history of every staff in every registered facility according to your area but also has scanned copies of every inspection report. The last group are websites designed to stay abreast of the school performance grades for the schools in my area (find your local school board website for more). Contrary to popular belief, 38 schools in Lee County graded A in 2006, 35 in 2005 and only 9 in 1999. Out of 77 schools, 61 received an A or B, that’s 79% which is a 7% increase from 2005 and higher that the state average of 75%. Now regardless of these facts, the school grade should NOT be the only determining factor for your decision. If you are able to access specifics according to each grade level, thus, enabling you to make a more informed decision, by all means, do so! For example, your child is in the 2nd grade and Peabody Elementary School is right down the block from home and they scored a B last year. You’re excited because although the grade is a B, the location makes it perfect, right? WRONG! That B grade could have had a major impact from the other grade levels at Peabody Elementary while the 2nd grade itself could have only accomplished a D for whatever reasons (ie: 1st grade = 99%, 2nd grade = 76%, 3rd grade = 97%, 4th grade = 92%, 5th grade = 98% making the average of 92.4% B). Catch my drift?
Here are a few links to my favorite websites:
Daycare and School sites for reports, ratings and more
Parental Involvement Help
The sites below are for my county, please seek your local school board website if not applicable
Feel free to add your own links to the comments section to make this a more useful tool and please remember: we all hold the keys to unlock the skies for our children’ s potential!! Happy Parental Involvement everyone!!