"How was school today?"
In study after study the results are clear: when parents are involved in their children's education at home, they do better in school. Parental involvement improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism, improves behavior and restores confidence among parents in their children's schooling.
It's simple to be involved with your child's schooling. Easy and important first steps are
- establishing schoolwork as a priority over activities like television and games,
- setting aside time each day for homework,
- helping with homework,
- encouraging respect, hard work and responsibility and
- asking about school: the subjects, the teachers, the whole thing.
Ask your child about school every day. Ask about homework and check that it gets done. Find out about upcoming tests and assignment due dates. Talk to children about books and stories. Read with them.
Set high but attainable academic goals with your children and encourage progress toward and attainment of those goals. It's important that your child knows that you value education and achievement. And you underscore that notion when your child sees you learning, reading, writing and having interesting discussions. Nothing teaches like example. For high school students, encourage taking advance placement (AP) courses.
Visit school and get to know the teachers
The importance of parental involvement with the school is second only to involvement in the home. Involvement with the school includes: coming to open house and parent-teacher conferences and attending school functions. Visit the school web site and read school newsletters to keep informed.
Ask how you can help
Ask how you can help. Attend a career day? Help in a classroom? Help prepare a special event?
Decide to volunteer at least three hours per year, and then find ways to help.
If you can't volunteer during school hours, ask what you can do from home or in an evening or on a weekend. You can find at least three hours. Volunteering helps you get firsthand experience at the school and that can help you better understand your child and the school.
Volunteering is part of a larger idea: providing support for teachers and the school. Other forms of support might include participating in your parent-teacher organization, attending school board meetings or getting involved in ideas for school improvement.