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How to Play an Active Role in Your Child's Education
Education is one of the most important parts of your child's life. Children learn in many different ways and absorb a lot of information each day. Much of the learning takes place in school, but your child receives an education outside of school, too. There are several ways that you can play an active role in your child's education, both at home and at school.
Participating in Your Child's School Life
Monitor schoolwork.Taking an active role in your child's education can be very beneficial in helping her succeed. One of the most important things you can do is to pay attention to what she is learning in school. Keep track of what subjects she is studying and monitor the assignments she is working on.
- Younger children tend to bring home projects, worksheets, and information from the teacher. If your child is in elementary school, ask her to go through her backpack with you each afternoon or evening.
- Take time to ask what she is working on. Ask her to explain each of the items she brings home, and show a genuine interest.
- If your child is older, ask about individual classes. Instead of saying, "How was school?", try saying, "What experiments did you work on in Chemistry today?"
Volunteer your time.There are many ways to become more actively involved in your child's education. One of the most effective is to actually spend time at the school. Ask your child's teacher or principal for a list of volunteer opportunities available for parents.
- In many elementary schools, parents are regularly utilized as classroom volunteers. Sign up to spend a morning helping with an art project.
- If your child is in middle school or high school, volunteer to chaperone a field trip. Serving as an additional supervisor on a visit to the state capital is a great way to interact with your child, her classmates, and teachers.
- You can also volunteer in other ways. Think about your own talents. For example, if you are a skilled seamstress, offer to help make costumes for the school play.
- Consider volunteering to be the parent adviser for an after school club. Maybe your child is interested in playing chess, and wants to recruit other kids to join in. Talk to the school about organizing a new club.
- Offer to give a presentation to your child's class. Many schools have a career day, which would be a great opportunity for you to teach your child and her classmates about your job.
Communicate with the teacher.Your child's teacher obviously plays an important role in your child's education. At the beginning of each school year, contact the teacher and establish an open line of communication. Let her know you are interested in any feedback or comments she has to offer.
- You can stop by the classroom before or after school to introduce yourself. Just say, "Hi, I'm Angie's mom, and I wanted to introduce myself. Please feel free to contact me if you feel there is anything about Angie that I should know."
- You can also send an introductory note or e-mail at the beginning of the year. You should also contact the teacher throughout the year if you have any specific concerns.
- Make parent-teacher conferences a priority. Most schools have regularly scheduled meetings between parents and teachers. Put these occasions on your calendar well in advance so that you have time to attend.
- Try to respect boundaries. Schedule an appointment with your child's teacher during regular business hours instead of phoning her at home late at night.
Visit the classroom.Sitting in on a lesson or two is a great way to get a clear idea of what your child is learning. Ask the school if they allow parent visitors during classes. Contact the principal's office to learn the specific guidelines.
- Make sure that the teacher is aware that you will be visiting. Send an e-mail or note ahead of your visit, stating that you are looking forward to watching your child learn.
- Follow-up with your child after the visit. Over dinner, ask specific questions, such as, "How long have you been reading that book? Who is your favorite character?"
Talk to other parents.If you get to know the other parents at school, you will likely feel more motivated to get involved in the culture. A great way to meet other parents is to join the Parent Teacher Organization or Association. Attend meetings regularly to get to know other parents and learn about issues affecting your child's education.
- Talk to other parents about what your kids are learning. If you have concerns about anything that is happening at the school, it will be useful to have another viewpoint.
- The Parent Teacher Organization will usually sponsor many events and projects throughout the year. For example, they might raise funds for a new computer lab. Joining this organization is a great way to work with others to improve the school.
Continuing Education Outside of School
Create a helpful environment.Even at a young age, your child will likely have homework. Help her succeed by fostering a good learning environment at home. This includes giving her a comfortable area in which to work.
- Designate an area of your home for school work. It can be the kitchen table, a desk in your child's room, or a corner in your home office.
- Help her to concentrate by limiting distractions in the school work area. For example, avoid letting her do homework in a room with the tv on.
- Establish a routine. Find a time that works for your child to her her homework and help her stick to that schedule.
- Maybe your child works best before dinner. Schedule your meal time a little later to allow her ample time to get her work done.
Supplement school curriculum.You can make learning fun and exciting by planning activities around what your child is learning at school. For example, if your child is studying the Civil War, there are lots of things you can do to make that come alive for her. Try taking a trip to a local history museum to see what exhibits they have on display.
- You can also do fun activities such as cooking new foods. If your child is taking Spanish at school, try cooking some homemade enchiladas together.
- If your child is really interested in her biology class, try to find some nature-based documentaries to watch with her. Or look for some cool books on the subject. Your local library is a great resource.
- Get the whole family involved. Family field trips are a great way to encourage learning. Take a weekend trip to a new city and explore some local history.
- For example, if your child is studying science, try going to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. You can also look for alternatives closer to home.
Help her with difficult subjects.If your child is having trouble with a particular subject or class, you can provide extra learning opportunities outside of school. First, assess her needs. Is she simply bored by the topic? Or does she seem to struggle with some of the necessary basic skills?
- For example, maybe your child just doesn't seem interested in her history lessons. Try to make the subject more interesting for her by talking to her about some interesting individuals in your family. Hearing stories about relatives can make history seem more relevant and exciting.
- If your child is struggling with certain skills, there are some steps you can take. For instance, if your child is having trouble retaining information, try making flashcards.
- Ask the teacher for a copy of the curriculum, so that you have all of the necessary information. Then, design some flashcards that you can use to help your child study in a fun and creative way.
Encourage reading.Not only will your child need solid reading skills in school, but helping your child to become a reader will promote lifelong learning. One of the most effective ways to help your child become a better learner is to promote reading outside of school. You can do this by finding ways to make reading enjoyable for your child.
- If your child is young, you can read books together. Devote some time each evening to taking turns reading from a popular series such as the Harry Potter books.
- Set a good example by reading your own books. If your child sees you choosing to relax with a book in the evening instead of the television, she will be more likely to adopt the same habits.
- Don't be afraid to offer incentives. Have your child set a goal of reading a certain amount of books in a month. If she meets the goal, offer a reward such as a family outing for ice cream.
Create learning moments.Your child spends more hours away from school than in it. That is why it is important to help her continue learning when she is away from a traditional learning environment. Work to turn everyday events into moments where your child can learn something.
- For example, cooking is a great way to teach your child math skills and organization. Ask her to help you read a recipe and measure out the ingredients you will need for dinner.
- If your child asks a question, take time to engage and give a thoughtful answer. If your teenager asks a question about the election process, take some time to ask her what her views about the candidates are.
- Demonstrate that learning is something that happens throughout life. If you are using the internet to find tips to house train your new puppy, use that as an opportunity to talk to your child about all of the different ways you can find information.
Promote involvement in activities.Reading and doing homework are considered types of quiet learning. While these are important, your child also needs to engage in active learning in order to have a more well-rounded education. Active learning means that your child is actively participating in an activity.
- Encourage your child to join a sports team or an after school club. Playing a sport like soccer teaches teamwork and the importance of following the rules.
- Social interactions will also help your child gain confidence. This will help her to succeed in the classroom and out.
- Take your child on educational outings. For example, ask her to accompany you to the local art museum. Ask her opinions about the different exhibits.
- Lead by example. Show your child that it is important to live a well-rounded life. Join a book club with other parents in your neighborhood to demonstrate that learning can be fun.
Help develop healthy habits.The mind-body connection is very important for a child's development. In order to succeed at school, your child needs to be physically healthy. Take an active role in her education by making sure that she is properly nourished and well-rested.
- Make sure that you provide healthy snacks and meals. While your child is growing, it is important that she receive the right nutrients. Provide healthy snacks such as fresh fruit or veggies and hummus.
- Children need about 8-11 hours of sleep each night, depending on their age. Make sure that your child has a structured routine that includes a reasonable bed time.
Communicating With Your Child
Ask questions.You can more actively be involved with your child's education by making sure that you communicate with her. One of the best ways to do this is by asking questions. This shows that you care and are interested in her school life and what she is learning.
- Ask open-ended questions. Try to avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
- Instead of saying, "Did you have a good day?", try "What was the best part of your day?". This will give you a better opportunity to develop the conversation.
Listen carefully.Kids want to feel like you respect and value their feelings and opinions. When you ask a question, make sure that you actively listen to the answer. There are many ways to demonstrate that you are listening.
- Ask follow-up questions. If your child says, "Gym class was cool today," ask a question like, "What made it great? What did you do?"
- Use positive body language. Maintaining eye contact and nodding your head are excellent ways to show that you are paying attention.
Make time for your child.Set aside time each day to spend with your child. This will allow you to get a more accurate sense of what is going on in her life, including school activities. If possible, try to eat dinner together each night. Meals are a great time to talk about the day.
- Schedule time to attend your child's activities. If she sings in a choir, make sure to attend concerts. It will show her that you are interested in her life.
- Offer to help with homework. Set aside time each evening to help your child with any problems that are giving her trouble.
Offer encouragement.Providing supportive words is one of the best ways to help your child succeed. Be an active participant in her education by cheering her on when she succeeds and offering support when she struggles. Your feedback is important to helping your child learn more and grow as a student.
- Offer positive reinforcement. If your child gets an "A" on a spelling test, that is cause for celebration.
- If your child struggles on an assignment, try to figure out what went wrong. Ask her if she needs more time at home to work on projects, for instance.
QuestionHow can parents positively assist in a child's development?Community AnswerThere are many ways, but one of the most beneficial is reading to your child, and having them read to you when they're older. Another good thing to try is signing the child up for an enrichment class, like an art class.Thanks!
QuestionWhat role does a parent play in the education of a child?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe parent should be the helper of homework, the question-answer-er, the support mechanism, and the proud figure.Thanks!
- Help your child to eat a healthy breakfast before school.
- Good grades aren't everything. A bad grade can be a learning experience, too. A bad grade can also be a sign of some other problem.
- Bright children may be bored in classes that are too easy, teenagers may be embarrassed to do well in school, a child may not be compatible with a particular teacher, or a child may have too many other demands on his or her time. Rather than punish a child for bad grades, take a good look at the root cause.
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