Staying Connected to Your Child’s School

In today’s busy world, staying connected to your child’s teacher and school isn’t always an easy task. American and Canadian research has shown that the children of parents who become actively involved in their children’s education tend to do well in school. Studies have shown, for example, that increased parental involvement can boost achievement levels, make children more responsible learners, help them earn more credits in high school, ensure that they experience fewer discipline problems and improve their attendance. Clearly, building a relationship with your child’s school is a worthwhile activity.

Building a relationship between home and school requires an effort on the part of both parents and teachers. However, parents who take the time to establish this relationship will find that they have more input into their child’s education. Such a relationship will also give parents and teachers a better understanding of the pressures that the other party faces and provide each with a chance to articulate concerns and discuss responsibilities.

A child’s success in school is a shared responsibility. For that reason, communication between the home and the school is always a two-way endeavour. Today’s schools use a variety of tools—websites, newsletters, progress reports, e-mail and conferences—to engage parents and facilitate communication. Parents need to remember, however, that these tools, though extremely useful, are no substitute for actively participating in their child’s school by serving on the parent council, accompanying students on field trips, helping out in the classroom and volunteering on sports days. Share your time and experience where you can. A little goes a long way, and both your child and your child’s teacher will appreciate your efforts.

Here are some strategies and tips for communicating effectively:

  1. Connect early: Rather than waiting for problems to arise, contact your child’s teacher early in the school year, introduce yourself and have a general discussion.
  2. Volunteer: If your schedule permits, offer to help out in the school. Teachers will appreciate your support, and you will have a chance to see how your child and his or her teacher interact.
  3. Visit the school: Many schools welcome parents on an informal basis. Find out if such visits are an acceptable practice at your child’s school.
  4. Use technology: Take advantage of e-mail, websites, online tracking and monitoring programs, and the phone to stay in touch with your child’s school. Remember, however, that there is no substitute for face-to-face communication.
  5. Communicate often: The frequency of your contact with the school will depend on your child’s situation. If you have serious concerns, weekly communication may be necessary.
  6. Be positive: Both parents and teachers should communicate positive events and accomplishments to one another. This type of dialogue can do much to boost a child’s self-esteem.

Taking the time and effort to communicate with your child’s school in a variety of contexts and settings will help you to build a relationship with your child’s teacher and give you a chance to participate in your child’s education.

Visit the following websites for more information on school involvement:

  • Communities and Schools Promoting: This gateway resource contains valuable information on the role that coordinated school-based and school-linked programs play in promoting the health, academic achievement and social development of students.
  • Parents as Partners: This site contains describes best practices for facilitating parent involvement in schools, offers resources for parents and teachers, and provides a forum to help parents become engaged in their child’s school.