Every parent knows that teachers and staff are part of what makes a school great, but parents have a lot to do with a school’s success as well. “There are objective measures of schools’ performance such as test scores and teacher-student ratio, but there are a number of other intangible factors as well,” says Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. “A positive school culture that fosters student success truly does take a village, and parents are key members of that village.”
What can parents do to contribute to a great school environment? Huntington suggests these simple tips:
Be supportive. Without parental support, teachers cannot do their jobs to the best of their ability. Reach out to your child’s teacher early in the school year to establish a positive working relationship. Communicate often and make it clear that you want to help your child succeed in school and do your part at home. Ask how you can support the teacher’s efforts in the classroom and follow through on fulfilling those requests.
Collaborate. The best schools are those where parents and teachers maintain collaborative partnerships for the benefit of the students. So, seek suggestions from the teacher on how to support your student’s learning. If your child is struggling, don’t just assume that the teacher will handle it. Solicit suggestions of things you can do at home to help, such as enrolling your child in a tutoring program. When it comes to homework, ask about the best ways you can relate assignments to real-world learning.
Uphold high expectations for your child. Research shows that upholding high expectations for students results in increased confidence and motivation, improved learning and more. Communicate with your child’s teacher about the most appropriate learning tasks that will spark your child’s interests and foster his or her success. When you and the teacher are on the same page about your child’s capabilities and potential, together, you can offer him or her consistent support.
Get involved. Involved parents make a great school. Volunteer in the classroom if you can, but if your schedule prevents this, there are many alternatives. Attend school events. Go to Parent-Teacher Organization meetings to learn more about your school and how you can help make it the best possible environment for students. Also, one of the simplest ways to get involved is to show your child that you value his or her education. Establish a good relationship with teachers and school staff and talk to your child about his or her school day, interests, homework and projects.
“Schools should offer children a well-rounded education and help them become capable, independent citizens, but parents play an essential role in schools’ efforts,” says Huntington. “Parental support at home and at school will have a direct and indirect positive impact on your child. Get involved, communicate with teachers and show your child through your actions that you want to support their school however you can.”