Our apologies to Benjamin Franklin, who in a 1789 letter to French physicist Jean-Baptiste Leroy penned, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” For in a sign as sure as the annual arrival of the State Fair butter sculpture, a new school year looms on the horizon.
For the region’s teachers and educational administrators, summer may be a break from the classroom but it is seldom a three-month sojourn into the world of beach books, sand and surf. They have already been hard at work, preparing classrooms and curricula, for the nine months ahead.
We all know that a good teacher makes a world of difference — but so too does an involved and informed parent.
We are aware of the myriad of time constraints on parents and families, which often leave little time for such things. However, in the multitudes of educational research, it is clear that it is worth trying to squeeze in whatever precious minutes you can fit into your schedule.
There are a mountain of resources available from state, local and federal education departments — most of them free and available at the click of a mouse.
Here are but a few simple ways to get started:
Attend your school’s fall orientation, open house or meet the teacher event. While such events may not permit you any individual time with your child’s future teacher(s), they often can provide useful information from classroom policies to email addresses;
Make a schedule, identifying times when your child does homework and you can be in close proximity. You don’t have to be a wiz at calculus or quantum physics, just being at the table paying bills while your son or daughter suffers through algebra is often enough to know whether he or she is headed for a full ride at Stanford or could use a little extra help;
Help your child set clear goals and figure out ways to reach them. Whether the goal is completing all of this week’s homework or getting straight A’s, the key is to let your child know you’re a partner in the process — and an interested partner at that;
If your child’s teacher(s) post grades or assignments online, review them often by accessing your parent portal or dashboard. This helps identify if your child is on track or avoiding homework and whether the catch-phrase “I don’t think I have any homework,” is even remotely accurate.
Parental involvement is one of the biggest factors in a child’s academic success, and students whose parents are involved in their education are more likely to graduate, go to college and go off into the world prepared for the challenges ahead.