A Parent's Guide to Helping Your Child Do Well in School (page 2)

— National Education Association
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Work with your child’s teacher

Regular communication between parents and teachers is key to improving student achievement. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else—you know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Share your knowledge to help teachers adapt lessons to match your child’s interests and learning style. The more teachers know about your child’s daily life, language, and culture, the more they will be able to make lessons more meaningful and connected to your child’s experiences.When children can make connections between what they learn in class with their lives outside of school, they become engaged and enthusiastic students.

A parent-teacher conference is an ideal opportunity to provide valuable insight in how to motivate your child to become an active learner. Once informed, teachers are better equipped to incorporate teaching that reflects your child’s experiences into their curriculum and create a classroom and school-wide environment that supports both the students’ cultural values and the school’s educational goals.Working together, parents and teachers can help students overcome negative social stereotypes and defeatist attitudes that inhibit academic success.When face to face meetings are not possible, parents should use e-mail, hand notes, or phone calls to communicate regularly with the teacher.

Your child may feel intimidated to make requests to an unfamiliar teacher, so it is important to be a strong advocate on his or her behalf. You can help your child do well in class by making sure clear, preferably written, expectations of student performance and the homework policy are provided. Ask the teacher what percent of your child’s performance will be evaluated by tests, homework, or class participation. Request a curriculum outline so that you can help your child prepare in advance for class. Inquire about after-school tutoring and counseling for students. Talk to your children’s teachers about individual learning plans so you can better monitor their progress.

Public schools help students reach their full potential

Schools that have high expectations for all students— and give them the support necessary to achieve those expectations—have high rates of academic success.When schools set high expectations, students work harder and aim higher because they learn to believe in themselves and in their future. From the principal to the cafeteria worker, all school employees have a role in helping students feel supported and respected. A sense of belonging and caring relationships are essential to developing self-esteem, independence, and a positive outlook on learning.

When public schools clearly communicate expectations to students, goals are identified, benchmarks are set, and students understand exactly how their work will be evaluated. Ask for up-to-date information about the school’s academic standing, graduation rates, and test scores. Schools must provide meaningful and timely information on student performance. Under the No Child Left Behind law, schools are required to notify parents about test results of individual students and the school, as well as supplemental service providers if necessary. Raw test data is not sufficient. Get interpretations of the scores, information on how the scores will be used, and advice on how they can help their children do better.

Because today’s student population is more international, all schools should offer communication such as newsletters, bulletins, and even the school Web site in parents’ native languages in order to ensure full participation. But parents need to be proactive to make sure their child receives all the resources to which they are entitled. Parents should ask about school-linked social services, lunch programs, and after-school activities—particularly programs for underachieving students. Extra-curricular activities should be open to all students. Research shows that after-school activities are linked to higher achievement and help students ease into the school culture. If possible, get involved in your child’s school by volunteering or attending parent meetings. School is a partnership between administrators, teachers, students, families, and the community. It’s up to all of us to help engage children in school so when they graduate they will be prepared for the challenges ahead.


National Education Association

Greatschools: The Parent’s Guide to K-12 Success

The College Board

Fact Monster: Homework Center

Discovery School: BJ Pinchbeck’s

Homework Helper bjpinchbeck/

Time for Kids: Homework Helper Kid Info

EducationWorld: Study Skills & Homework Help index.shtml

Pitsco’s Ask An Expert

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