Parent involvement is one of the most critical factors in your child’s school success. Research has shown that the more parents play an active role in their children’s education, the more likely students are to achieve higher and have better behaviour and attendance.
Despite the understanding that parent involvement can make a big difference, it’s still quite common for parents to stick to the sidelines when it comes to their kids’ schooling. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, time can be a constraint - many parents are busy in their jobs and careers and do not always have the time to ask questions or keep up with school news. Sometimes parents simply do not know how they can get involved beyond signing report cards and attending conferences. In other cases, parents do not speak English well and feel intimidated joining parent council or volunteering for the school.
If you are a parent who is wondering how they can be more involved in their child’s schooling, you’ve come to the right place. This article provides tips for parents on supporting their child in school. Follow our guide, and you will help your child get the most out of their education.
Advice For Helping Teenaged Kids
Parenting a teenage child is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards of seeing your young adult blossom into a caring, mature, and independent individual are incredible. If your teen is worrying you late into the night, you can feel better about your parenting by equipping them with tools that help them make sensible decisions and opportunities for growth.
Start supporting your teen by building trust with them as they get older. If you support and advocate for them, and help them nurture their interests, they will have a strong relationship with you and won't be afraid to go to you when you need help. Reward your teen when they do something trustworthy, and if they do something dangerous and reckless make sure they are aware of the consequences of their actions. Don't be afraid to have hard conversations and be patient when you feel like you can't get through to your kids. Adolescence, as you may remember from your own childhood, isn't easy for anyone involved!
Teens have unique concerns as their decisions and achievements in high school can have a direct impact on what happens after they graduate. Help your teen set goals for the future and give them opportunities to explore those goals, whether it involves visiting prospective colleges and universities or introducing your teen to local professionals that can provide their insights on a career. When they have critical exams and assignments, give them a space to focus, resources for learning, and possibly a tutor if they need help.
Learn more about supporting your teenaged child in school.
Get Your Kids into Extracurriculars
Extracurriculars are an essential part of your child's learning at any age, and you will want your kids and teens to be involved in activities after school and on the weekends to avoid excessive video gaming, social media consumption, and Netflix binging. And let's not forget that extracurriculars can enrich and enhance your kid's learning in school and help them build their self-esteem while meeting new friends.
There are dozens of options for extracurricular learning, and what you choose will likely coincide with the activities you did as a child. Bear in mind that you should always support your kids' personal interests - they are, after all, different from you and will develop their own tastes and preferences as they get older. Some extracurriculars can be pursued in school for free. Yearbook, crafting, school newspaper, chess clubs, dance clubs, and sports teams are just some of the options that might be offered in your child' schools.
Outside of school you will find many options, and can come at a significant cost depending on what your child decides to pursue. Prioritize your child's top interests and pay for those activities your child is most stimulated by and brings the greatest rewards. This will be different for every kid - some prefer hockey, for example, while others are perfectly happy playing piano or experimenting in a science lab.
Choose your child's extracurriculars carefully, as you may be inciting a lifelong love for a subject and possibly a future career. Extracurriculars enable your child to network, socialize, compete - it's not a task to be taken lightly, but an investment that will pay itself off years down the road.
When Your Child is Struggling in School
Kids that struggle in school are of significant concern not only to parents but teachers and principals. When kids are under pressure, become emotionally withdrawn, exhibit exceptional behaviour, or simply hate going to school it's important to take thoughtful action. As the old saying goes, "it takes a village to raise a child," and parents with a struggling student should use all the community resources available to intervene and ensure that your child is not only learning but maintains a positive and healthy outlook on school.
School staff will often be the first to contact you when your child is experiencing difficulties in school. They may notice your child having social difficulties, need to improve their self-regulation or study skills, or think that you child may have a learning disability. It's important to collaborate with school staff when they have concerns, and don't be afraid to get the opinion of a family doctor or educational consultant if you feel like you aren't getting the full picture.
Finally, talk to your child frankly if you worry about their well-being and attitude toward learning. It may be frustrating at first if they don't want to talk about it, but it's important for them to understand that you advocate for them and will do what it takes to get them back on track.
How can you help your child in school? Read our article!
More Tips for Helping Kids in School
1. Communicate with Your Child’s Teachers
Having an open line of communication between the home and school can make a big difference in your child’s performance in school. Thanks to modern advances like email, classroom apps, virtual classrooms, and robo calls, school staff can reach school families quickly and easily, taking the stress out of finding a time to make a phone call where all parties can be reached.
When your kids know there is a direct and open line of contact between their parents and teachers, they are more likely to exhibit positive behaviour and learning skills since they know their parents will find out when something is amiss. Parents who know what is going on in their child’s classroom can easily follow up on homework, assignments, and events.
If your child has a Google Classroom or any virtual learning environment connected with their classroom, check it regularly. Don’t hesitate to send emails or ask questions before report cards: final grades on reports come after a cycle of assessment, so you want to be in the know before those marks get recorded. If your child has a communication folder where teachers send home student work and letters, check it immediately and sign documents as soon as you see them.
The more you know about what is going on at your child’s school, the more you will feel empowered to advocate for your child when needed.
2. Join School Council
A school council is an elected body of parents, staff, and student representatives who meet regularly to discuss school events, budgets, fundraising, priorities, renovation plans, safety, and leadership at the school. Parents can join a general membership and participate in meetings held every month. Sometimes, guest speakers are brought in to discuss anything from equity to local politics. It’s a practical way to be involved in your community and to know what is happening in the school. Joining your child’s school council is an amazing way to connect with other parents, principals, and teachers in an organized environment.
When you join council, you can help make decisions for the school, and share your input on the events happening in the school. The decisions that a school council makes with regards to allocating fundraising monies can significantly enhance your child’s school experience. For example, you can vote to spend fundraising money to install new water fountains, purchase additional art supplies and technology, install turf, or procure guest speakers. The larger and more active council your school has, the more likely the school will see improvements and enhancements that the parent community values. If you’ve ever wondered why some schools look better than others, you can probably assume they have a strong parent council.
3. Take Opportunities to Volunteer and Fundraise
There are so many opportunities for parents to volunteer and fundraise, which has the critical impact of making the school community much stronger. When you volunteer at your child’s school, you are not only modeling community involvement for your child but showing them that you are part of their school.
Fundraising helps to improve the school and enhance the learning materials students use. Popular goals for school fundraising include purchasing new technology, library renovations, new sports equipment, and acquiring guest speakers. It’s easy to help out - you can plan and work at a spring fair, sell and distribute pizza to students at lunch, or sell products from a business that has school fundraising programs in place. If you don’t have time at the moment to help organize a fundraiser, then make sure you support your children’s school’s fundraising initiatives.
Volunteering at your kids’ school can also ensure you make a direct and immediate difference in the school community. Be a supervisor on a field trip, supervise an activity at a fun fair, or simply ask the main office if there are ways to help in the school. Of course, your kids might not appreciate your presence as much when they hit the teenage years, so be involved why you can!
Learn all about choosing extracurricular activities for your child.
4. Be at Your Child’s Concerts and Sports Games
Kids that join extracurriculars are taking initiative, and parents should support this by being at their games, concerts, or any other event linked to their interests. Younger kids love seeing a familiar face in the audience, and will likely continue their extracurriculars independently when they associate it with positive experiences.
So be there at the winter concert, the basketball game, high school musical, or speech competition. Not only will your kids feel supported, but you’ll see a side of your children that displays their interests and passions.
5. Understand Your Child’s Learning Goals and Expectations
If you’ve ever helped your child in school and wondered what you are doing, you may want to consult your child’s grade level curriculum expectations and learning goals. When you know exactly what your kids are learning and why, it becomes much easier to help them with their homework and prepare for tests and assessments.
You can find your provincial curriculum expectations posted online, or request the documents from your province’s ministry of education. It may seem like a lot, so start by focusing on basic literacy and math expectations. When you know what your kids are learning, you will feel much more confident about supporting them in their work.
6. Talk to Your Kids About School
It may seem cliche or trite to ask “how was your day at school?” at the dinner table or on the drive home, but making school a regular part of the daily conversation will help you to detect issues when they arise and be aware of what goes on when your child is out of the house. Ask specific questions that require more than an obligatory “it’s fine” or “good”: inquire about what they are learning in math, who they played with (if they are younger), or if they are reading anything interesting. Start these conversations when the students in your home are young, and you’ll have a great routine that you can continue all the way through high school.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Call in Extra Help
It’s normal to feel daunted with helping kids with homework and school while holding down a busy full time job or nurturing a career, so call in help when needed. One way to get school help for your kids is to hire a private tutor that can work with them in specific subjects.
Perhaps your child is struggling in math, or needs help mastering the basics of grammar or spelling. A tutor can work with your child intensively to target the greatest areas of need, through helping them to complete homework assignments or even working through a curriculum workbook from your local bookstore.
Sites like Superprof contain listings and profiles of amazing tutors near you. Check out Superprof today!