Step 1 - Call or email your child's teachers to set up a conference.
You need to know who your child's teachers are and they need to know who you are. If your child is in elementary school, he or she may have one, or possibly two, regular classroom teachers. These teachers are the adults responsible for teaching the main reading, writing, math, science, and social studies lessons to your child. If your child is in middle or high school, he or she may have up to eight course teachers.
The teachers need to see you. This conveys a message that you care about your child's education. Actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, when you do not reach out to your child's teachers at all it usually sends a bad message that you are too busy to care or other things are more important.
Don't worry about feeling nervous or intimidated. The teachers are here to help you and will be thankful that you took this initiative. Don't worry about not knowing what to say. Just tell the teacher that you would like to know their role in helping with your child's education, and what role they expect you to have at home. These questions will lead into others.
Step 2 - Go online and research your child's school.
All schools are not created equal. Many schools have special focuses such as math and science, the arts, leadership, foreign languages, etc. It's important that you know the focus of your child's school. Researching the school's website will also give you more questions to ask during your conference.
Step 3 - Start asking your child daily questions about how things are going in school.
You will not know what is going on in our child's school, if you do not ask your child. Answers such as "fine" and "okay" are not good enough. Try asking questions such as these:
"What was your best part of the day and why?"
"What is the hardest thing that you are studying in school right now and why do you think it is so hard?"
"What did you learn in school today and can you teach me how to do it or tell me why it is important to learn?"
These questions require more than a one word answer. If your child gives you an answer that is troubling, ask more questions. Do not hesitate to contact his or her teacher by email or phone (email will save you more time) for clarification.
Contacting your child's teacher does not question his or her authority. It lets the teacher know that you are involved in your child's education, you know what is going on in the classroom, and that you are here to help.
Sample Conference questions:
First of all, it is important to thank the teacher for working with your child and meeting with you. Teaching is a stressful job and working with multiple students to help them prepare for their future is not a job that everyone is cut out for. This statement will help the communication and set the mood for a positive experience.
In which subjects does my child most need my support in order to be able to master the skills taught in class? What specific activity can I use to help my child grow in this area?
What is your expectation for me as a parent in helping my child at home with school work?
What is the best way to contact you if there is an emergency with my child?
How much should I be involved with my child's homework?
For more information on how to Revolutionize Schools Starting from the Bottom with Parents and Teachers, check out other articles and resources at www.revolutionizingschools.com.