Whether you have a parent-teacher conference coming up, want to further connect with your child’s teacher and/or help build a more solid foundation for academic and social success both inside and outside of school, here are five tips to becoming more engaged and informed with your child and his/her teacher.
Get your kids talking
One of your biggest questions might be, “how can I be aware of what’s going on during the school day?” This is insight your child’s teacher can provide. He/she can take you through a typical school day. Asking your child about his/her day is good, but for me, not very informative. Many times, I get a one-word answer. To help, there’s a great article providing 25 creative ways to ask your kids (or teen) how their day was (without really asking them so they will actually TALK you!). Getting this insight from your kids is special and gives you a unique insight into them and how they perceive their world. After all, eight hours is a long time! As a way to get to know your child better, I also love the idea of a “key jar,” thoughtful conversation starters for your kids (with a free printable template).
The beauty of AND
Ask your child’s teacher about the kinds of hands-on activities the class is doing and how he/she makes learning engaging. You could also ask, “there are so many ranges of students, how do you reach and encourage each of them?” This is a great opportunity to see what your child’s teacher is observing about your child academically, the strengths and challenge areas. We all agree that school should be about learning AND fun. There has been a lot of discussion (read: debate) around whether kids are getting enough play and outside time. I’m a big proponent of fresh air and “being a kid” time. Voice your opinion at your child’s school. Homework is another hot topic. In my children’s school, there are no at-home projects. These projects are done during school time (that makes this mama happy).
Encouraging independence and growth is good for everyone, so you can ask your child’s teacher, “How or what can we do at home to assist in promoting independence?” I have a friend on the “inside” (aka a kindergarten teacher) who said, “we can tell when kids are used to having everything done for them.” As parents, we pour ourselves into your our kids to help them become successful, confident, joyful, well adapted adults. Fostering independence at home is a great start. Here’s an excellent post on things you want your son (or daughter) to know by the time they turn 10. I personalized it and read it to my son on his tenth birthday (I am plan on doing the same with my daughter when she turns 10 this year).
The Golden Rule
A lot of questions tend to focus on academics, but teachers know social is important too. It’s important for parents to know how their child is interacting with their peers…are they flexible, do they help others without being asked, how is their attitude about learning? Kindness is my number one rule to live by both inside and outside of our home. Gratitude and the gift of time are close seconds. Here’s some ideas on how to cultivate kindness in your family.
Brainstorm and collaborate
Asking how you can best support your child’s teacher will go a long way. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher said, “The most successful relationships I’ve built with students are the ones I’ve had good relationships with their parents. Both sides need to be open to feedback. Parents shouldn’t be surprised that their child isn’t perfect and teachers need to remember that they are teaching someone’s son or daughter. Communicate, listen and learn from each other.”