We have all heard that success at school begins with success at home. You have also probably heard that school success is based on a good partnership between parents and teachers- child and school. What does such a partnership look like to you?
The folks at Scholastic.Com offer some suggestions for families to consider as they look at this bigger question in an article titled ‘The Home-School Connection‘. The general idea they put forward is the before the right partnership occurs, the foundation for it must begin at home. The article discusses how a parent can best instill a love of learning, by creating a home that is: open to the types of learning that occur in school and at home; by being supportive of the teacher, the classroom, and the school; and by encouraging the learning process. Through enthusiasm for their academic discoveries, course work, and school endeavors, parents can place a desire to learn within their child. Children will become more motivated to first please you and then as they get older, please themselves. At an early age, improvement and mastery of skills and concepts, show children hard work pays off. It can show them the thrill and reward of learning. This in return helps build self-confidence and other healthy behaviors, that allow learning to flourish from the get –go.
The article talks about carving out one on one time with your child. While this may be a no-brainer, we live in the age of overfilled schedules, for both child and parent alike. Spending quality time together does not have to be complicated. Whether it is involving them in cooking a meal; a household chore; reading a book together: playing catch; taking a walk; or watching a movie together and snuggling on the couch, such time set aside for your child builds them up and shows them you believe in them. It shows them you value them and that they are important people. From your end, it is another thing that strengthens them and thus strengthens the partnership between home and school. When good things are happening at home, they overflow into all aspect of your child’s life including school.
Then there are the things parents can do to build a successful partnership with their child’s teachers, their other life line to school success. Whereas the first bricks in the foundation of school success should come from home and a positive regard and support of learning, the next bricks come from being on the same page with her teacher. When parents and teachers have the same goals for the child, the best outcomes are in store for your child. As your child’s parent, you have unique insights into their behaviors, skills, challenges, and personality that only a parent can have. In the same regard, a teacher has an understanding of curriculum and the school’s environment that only a teacher can have. By working together as partners, each providing input, information, and the critical investment of time and care for the child, a child has a whole team of adults on her side. With such a partnership, everyone is working for her common good.
So what does this look like on a daily basis? As the parent, this means sharing important events of your child’s life. Perhaps there has been a death, divorce, illness, or other stressful event that is affecting your child’s behavior and/or performance at school. Likewise, teachers who are fulfilling their part of the partnership are keeping parents “up to snuff” on any difficulties, irregular behavior or performance, and any wins. They are offering children the extra support and assistance they need in the classroom or within the school building. They are open and available. There are many things a parent can do. Perhaps it is sharing important aspects of your child’s life with her classroom- different things that are important to her culture or are meaningful family traditions. In the earliest grades, there are often journals that accompany each child to school. While this may end, notes, e-mails, or call to the teacher can keep the communication open and what it needs to be.
There are other ways for a parent to be actively involved in their child’s schoolwork. These may be the things we commonly think of or even take for granted. Parents can assist with homework and projects. There are volunteer opportunities for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers, both classroom wide and school wide, that show interest and an investment in what your child, teacher, and school are doing. Whether your school has a read with Santa night or a walkathon to raise money for playground equipment, or a school team to root for or academic clubs to support, doing it as a family and interacting with other classmates’ families, or the greater school community, speaks volumes about your belief and commitment to a place where you and your child are investing considerable time.