Parent involvement in the school that their child(ren) attend will help insure the child is successful. When a child sees their parent volunteering, it sends a couple of signals to the child. First it says, "I care about you." The second signal that a child gets is "My mom (or dad) is here, I better behave."
Being an active participant in your child's education will help him succeed as a student. Therefore, I believe every parent should be at every parent-teacher conference. Go prepared.
I think it is imperative that parents be acquainted with the child's textbooks as well as being involved in the classroom.
Another area where parents need to be informed and not just take a doctor's word or a school administrator's word is if your child should be on medication. Here is an article from a leading child's psychiatrist and researcher, Jerome Kagan, about the overuse of medication. He also states that ADHD, ADD and bipolar are way over misdiagnosed.
Parent involvement in the school requires parents to attend the parent-teacher conference. A proactive parent will even be in communication with the teacher between conferences.
Make sure you ask specific questions. The teacher will be prepared to tell you in 15 minutes what your child does right and/or wrong. You need to control this conference by asking the right questions. Listen to your child at the end of the school day. Hear what they are telling you. Base your questions on what your child tells you.
Did they tell you that someone was mean to so and so. Keep this in mind when you have the parent-teacher conference. Ask the teacher which child causes the most problems and what s/he is doing about it. Ask how your child handles the conflicts in the classroom. If your child is at the center of any conflict, ask what the conflict was about and who else was involved.
Ask the teacher how your child socializes with the other students. Ask if your child is a leader or a follower. Does your child stick up for the underdog or is s/he an underdog?
Write your questions down so that you don’t forget them. Knowing how your child is interacting with other children in the classroom is an indicator of how s/he is doing academically.
Some children do not thrive in a classroom with too much disruption and conflict. Children who deal with disruption at home may be more prone to start conflict at school. Therefore, if your child is one who likes a quiet environment may find it difficult to concentrate in a classroom with one or two students who “take all of the teacher’s attention”.
Parent involvement in the school may require parents to show up when unexpected. A parent should show up in their child’s classroom unannounced in order to see just what the teacher is teaching and how she interacts with the students.
The first time this happens s/he may change their teaching and want you to be a “guest” speaker. Inform the teacher that you intend to do “surprise” visits from time to time and just want to sit at the back of the room and observe. You can easily do this by having lunch with your child and staying after the lunch recess in order to observe the classroom.
Being a volunteer for your child’s classroom is also a great way for parent involvement in the school. If your child comes home with stories of others being unkind or s/he is being bullied, then just mentioning this to the teacher may not be enough. Sometimes a parent's presence in the classroom on a consistent basis will eliminate these actions.
If you do volunteer in the classroom, try to get to know all of the students not just your child’s friends. By getting acquainted with all of the children it is showing them that you can be fair. Being “fair” in children’s eyes is a big deal. Some students may already think that one or two students are the “teacher’s pets”. As a volunteer, you can even the score by being friendly to all and not “playing favorites.”
I also believe that parents need to take an in-depth look at the textbooks the first week that the child brings them home. Is the child not bringing home the textbooks? Go to the school and request an extra copy for a week so that you can look at what your child will be reading and expected to learn. If the administration does not have extra books, then go to the classroom and get your child’s books.
You, better than anyone, knows your child’s capabilities. You will know if something is going to be a stumbling block and you can prepare your child for that upcoming stumbling block by giving him/her additional tutoring prior to or at the time the subject is being taught. NOTE: Please don’t be an overprotective parent—a parent who allows the child to dictate what s/he wants to learn.
On the other hand, be protective. If the material is morally wrong, then object to it. If the material in the textbooks is too biased one way, favoring a race or gender or sexual preference over another by a great percentage, then it might be you will want to express your objection.
Parent involvement in the school where your children attend is not only necessary but it will also be an rewarding experience. It will be rewarding for you because you will be around your child(ren) more. It will be rewarding to your child because children love to show off their parents (most elementary school children).
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