5 Ways To Be Involved and Empower Children At School

Most parents agree that they need to be involved with their child’s education. But where’s the balance between being a helicopter parent and too “stand-off?” How do you make sure you are empowering your child at school rather than keeping them from growing up? Well, here’s 5 ways to be involved and empower children at school.

1. Ask you child specific questions about their day

This seems simple but how many times have we been busy and just asked, “How was school?” Then after a lame answer, moved on with our days. I am definitely guilty of this. However these questions will keep you update on what’s happening and help you sideline an issue before it becomes a big problem.

Some sample questions are:

  • Who did you sit by at lunch today?
  • Did you write your homework down in your planner?
  • What was one thing you learned or liked doing?
  • Was there anything that made you feel stressed?
  • Read more samples here.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do change up the questions so that it’s not all just bad questions or the same question.
  • Don’t ask leading questions like: “Did your teacher yell today?” This causes children to start over analyzing and potentially making up information that could be inaccurate. A better way to ask is: “Was there anything that made you feel uncomfortable today?” Or “Are you getting along with your teacher?”

2. Establish a healthy relationship with your child’s teacher

The key word here is “healthy.” Depending on your child’s needs, you may be in contact with their teacher daily. But that is the exception. For most families a healthy relationship looks like whole class announcements, some type of online grade checks or behavior checks, and one or two personal contacts a month. Personal contacts could be a note home, an email, or a phone call.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do try to attend school events. This is a great way to get a feel on your child’s relationship with their teacher. Are they involved, do they enjoy seeing their teacher, etc.
  • Don’t expect a phone call weekly unless there are problems. Teachers are loaded down. I promise you, they don’t have time for that.
  • Don’t call the teacher every time there is a missing assignment or problem. By the time children are in 3rd grade, they should start advocating for themselves. Parents are empowering their children when they encourage children to talk to the teacher themselves. THEN parents can follow up and see what needs to be done further.
  • Do expect teachers to communicate as often as they promise. If a teacher is not communicating as often as we agreed, follow up with them.

3. Check Assignments Often

Knowing what is due and what your child is scoring is the best way to stay on top of their progression. Setting up a system to help them organize these assignments will help your child learn organizational skills.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do create or use the teacher’s organizational system. This helps children establish a routine and manage their assignments themselves.
  • Don’t read the assignments every night and then do them yourself. You are not teaching your child anything by doing their homework for them. Instead guide them,”Hey what do you have in your planner tonight?” “How can we make sure your homework gets in your folder at school?”
  • Don’t expect the teacher to accept assignments just because your child missed them. What are you teaching you child when you step in for them?

4. Ask Teachers Specific Questions Too

Unfortunately a lot of teacher communication happens when there is a problem. At that point, everyone involved could be emotional about the situation. Questions allow the teacher to report what they understand rather than come from a place of defense.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do assume that the teacher has your student’s best interest at heart. Teachers went into their career because they want to help people.
  • Don’t assume that your child is always 100% truthful. Think about all the times that you have stretched the truth… your child may be doing the same thing.
  • Do begin the school year by learning teacher’s expectations, policies, and communication practices.

5. Learn about programs that can add to your child’s education

A lot of parents wait until there’s a problem to start investigating tutoring groups, after school activities, and community programs. Keep your eyes open for these each year. You can find these on school and district websites, flyers at school, local libraries, and even online (such as Facebook groups).

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t force your child to do so many activities they are exhausted and hate school. Pick one or two things.
  • Do research each option and talk to you child’s teacher. Maybe they have a good idea about what would be helpful.

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