The early elementary years are an ideal time to get involved in your child's education. In fact, the earlier parental involvement begins, the better the student outcomes, according to the Michigan Department of Education. The best parent-teacher relationships are based on open, frequent communication. Speak with your child's teacher at open house events or parent-teacher conferences and establish a method for regular communication, such as email, newsletters and occasional chats at the classroom door.
At Home Support
Your feelings about education and your support at home are critical to boosting your child's school performance. Even if you don't have time to actively volunteer at school, spend time at home together learning. Read together, play board games, work on puzzles or go on weekend field trips. Set your child up for success at school by keeping a predictable schedule, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Have family meals together and schedule a time each day for homework. Keep pencils and other basic supplies organized and provide your young elementary student with the resources she needs for school work.
Teachers vary in their enthusiasm for classroom volunteers, so check with your child's teacher first. Most teachers appreciate the help, especially for specific tasks, such as reading groups or classroom folders. Arrive on time and get a babysitter for younger children. Follow the teacher's directions and treat all children kindly. Keep confidences about the children and their families.
Teachers often are strapped for time when it comes to planning the fun "extras" such as field trips, parties, art projects and science fairs. Offer to take on some of these activities. If you're new to volunteering, start small. Sign up to help on a committee before you offer to head one. Teachers are usually receptive to special offers of help, beyond the usual activities, so be creative, and consider your own talents and circumstances. For example, if you're an expert seamstress, offer to sew puppets or props for the pretend center. If your background is in science, bring in a few simple experiments. Working parents can offer to cut art materials or organize unit studies at home. If your child's school doesn't have a volunteer opportunity that fits your needs, suggest one. Most teachers and school officials respond positively to such gestures.
If you feel passionate about education and want to know more about your child's education, join your school's advocacy or accountability committee. These committees typically meet once per month with the school administration to discuss internal issues, such as budgets, curriculum and school goals. Another option is the PTA or fundraising committee for the school. You might feel intimidated as a new parent with a young child, but joining a committee will instantly connect you with other parents and help you become involved.
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