As a mother of two young boys, I know what it’s like to be filled with hope that my children will reach their best potential in life and in school.
As many of the children in our neighborhoods head back to school this month, I’m excited to think of the wealth of possibilities that lay ahead for them in higher education.
As parents, it can be overwhelming to navigate the best way to guide our kids and help them succeed in school. Being engaged parents is crucial for their academic success. Research shows that being actively involved with our children helps them get better grades, encourages them to sign up for more challenging coursework and supports positive social skills.
We shouldn’t be intimidated by this process. There are simple steps we can take to become engaged parents.
The first step in engaging with our children is by talking to them about school and asking them what they are learning. By establishing clear communication and having open conversations about their studies and interests, we can set goals and expectations together. Ask them questions, such as: What subjects they are taking and which do they enjoy most? What colleges would they like to attend? These conversations will encourage them to start thinking about their path to college and they’ll feel supported in reaching their academic goals.
In order to help identify and address any barriers to their academic success early on, it’s essential to check your student’s homework on a weekly basis. If they need help, or are possibly struggling in a subject, you may help guide them yourself or consider finding them a tutor. There are many free resources available on school campuses and school staff can also refer you to resources that are available in your local community.
Another key factor in your child’s academic success is meeting their teachers and attending parent-teacher conferences. Reach out to their instructors and get to know what courses your son or daughter is taking. Talk about their progress and ask what they are excelling in. Don’t hesitate to initiate contact with school counselors and administrators. They can guide your student and make sure they are taking the right courses and are on track to get into a college of their choice. They are here to partner with you and they want to see your child succeed.
While it may seem that kids don’t mind if their parents are not involved, I can assure you they care when you show up as their support. Become actively involved by volunteering at their school and attending school events. You can do this in whatever capacity is feasible for you. Whether it be helping for an hour at an after-school event, helping with a fundraiser, or simply showing up at a school game that your child is participating in. It does make a difference.
Another way to get involved is by joining either the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA). This is a good way to help implement school improvement programs and find resources for your school to thrive. Research shows that when parents advocate for their children at school, students are more confident and take on and achieve more. Being involved will show your child that you care about them and their academic environment.
Also, make it a point to get to know your child’s friends and monitor how they spend their time once the school day is over. Help to make your child’s school experience enjoyable by encouraging them to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, music, theater or after-school clubs. This not only allows them to make connections that will enrich their social skills, but it also bolsters their resume when they are applying to colleges. Schools want to receive applications from students that are well-rounded and have participated in high school activities.
Finally, remember that you are not alone. Lean on each other for support. An integral part of our children’s well-being is knowing that we can count on and partner with other people in our community, including fellow parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors.
To learn more about how to become engaged parents, please click on the articles below.