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Family Engagement in School

Want to Help Your Child Succeed in School? Be Involved!

All parents want their children to do well in school. One way to help children succeed is to be involved in their education. You can do many things to help your child do well in school. Try these tips!

Support School Achievement

Skills and scores: Tests and grades matter for student success. Teachers work with children on skills (such as reading and math) and then score their knowledge at school. Here are some ideas how you can help your child with skills and test scores outside of school.

Homework helps children learn more and be more successful when they grow up. To help your child with homework skills:

  • Encourage your child’s efforts to complete homework
  • Create a quiet space or room for doing homework
  • Make sure your child can find help with homework if needed

Learn about how report cards are graded and go to school conferences. You and your child’s teacher can celebrate successes and talk about any problems when they are still new.

If your child needs help in skills and scores, make a plan with the teacher for extra help. Many resources are available.

Attitudes and behaviors: Students’ feelings about and approaches to schoolwork also affect success. You help your child succeed when you:

  • Believe in his or her ability to do well
  • Teach him or her that learning is important
  • Help your child enjoy learning and take pride in completing his or her work

Through your own interactions with the teacher, show your child ways to respectfully and clearly state needs and questions. Help your child practice these same skills.

How You Can Help Your Child Succeed

Here are five techniques that work:

  1. Encourage
    • Let your child know you believe education is important.
    • Volunteer at your child’s school if you are able to do it.
  2. Model
    • Let your child see you learn.
    • Stick with and complete your own difficult tasks.
  3. Reinforce
    • Praise your child for learning and working hard.
    • Ask your child how school is every day. Talk about any positive examples or concerns.
  4. Instruct
    • Work with your child on homework.
    • Model “life lessons,” such as completing a tough job, learning from mistakes, and meeting requirements. Discuss how these skills apply to school.
  5. Celebrate your child’s success
    • Serve your child’s favorite food for dinner.
    • Let your child choose a special movie for the family to watch.
    • Share your child’s success with friends and family. Let your child hear you do this.
    • Display school work on the refrigerator or bulletin board at home.

When parents participate, children achieve. Students learn more, have higher grades, and have better school attendance.

Learn About Your Child’s School

Before the school year begins, visit the school your child will attend. Obtain a copy of the school’s family engagement plan, if available.

Before your child begins school, ask the teacher or the principal:

  • What subjects are taught in this grade?
  • How much time is spent teaching children reading and math each day?
  • What tests do the school use to measure children’s progress?
  • Can I attend school orientation with my child?
  • Is there a family center at the school?
  • Is the school meeting the academic and learning goals set by the state?

Ask the principal for a district or school report card to see if students are making progress. You also can visit for specific information about your school.

Communicate With School Staff

School staff are your partners in helping your child grow. They should be helpful and willing to meet with you.

What to tell teachers and principals:

  • Explain your child’s needs so staff better understand and are able to help meet them.
  • Share any problems at home which may affect your child’s school performance, such as divorce or illness.
  • If English is not your first language, ask the school to arrange an interpreter to help you and the school communicate when you meet with staff.
  • Have the school provide materials in your native language.

It is your responsibility to be actively involved in your child’s education; the more you are involved at school, the more likely your child will succeed.

Support Your Child in Elementary School

Here are some ideas of things you can do to support your child’s progress.

What you can do at home to help your child learn:

  • Read together with your child. Also let your child see you reading for pleasure.
  • Use the local library and the Internet (if you have access) as sources for reading activities, homework support, and opportunities to develop outside interests.
  • Make sure your child does his or her homework. Give your child the chance to be responsible and to work on his or her own. Encourage those efforts.
  • Pay attention to how much your child watches TV, uses the computer, or plays video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics has ideas to help parents do this. American Academy of Pediatrics – Family Media Use Plan
  • Listen carefully to what your child says and talk with him or her often. Research shows that children who talk with the adults in their lives are not only more successful students, but also healthier, happier people.

What you can do with the school to help your child learn:

  • Contact your child’s teachers throughout the school year. Show them you are interested in your child’s education, and set up a way to communicate with them. Teachers will appreciate your interest.
  • Find out what goals the teachers have for your child. Goals will change with each grade level.
  • Contact the teacher immediately if you notice a negative change in your child’s behavior or school performance.
  • Communicate with the teacher if your child has a problem cooperating and playing with other children. This allows you to identify and address problems at school before they become worse.
  • Be persistent; if you do not receive an adequate response, you may want to consider meeting with your child’s teachers, the school counselor, and the principal together.
  • Contact teachers if your child regularly doesn’t understand homework or needs extra help, or feels uncomfortable with any situation.
  • Attend scheduled parent-teacher conferences; be prepared to listen and talk. You may find it helpful to write out questions beforehand. The teachers should be very specific about your child’s work and progress. Think about what the teachers tell you and check back with them to see how things are going as the year progresses.