Parental involvement in back-to-school planning is essential and is usually centered on helping the children prepare for the school year ahead. But what else do parents need to know in their unique role as the at-home classroom assistant? We asked some teachers to help parents with guidance and ideas.
Parents should have a complete knowledge of the class schedule, teacher name and contact information, as well as the homework policy for each teacher. Teachers are surprised at how often many parents don't really know their child's teacher's name, let alone the homework policy.
For example, the history teacher always assigns homework on Monday and it is always due on Thursday. This consistency helps with time management for athletes, band members, cheer participants and everyone who has extracurricular activities. Given that the homework policy follows a predictable timeline, parents and students can plan accordingly. For example, if there's no game scheduled that week on Monday or Wednesday, and a game or event is scheduled on Tuesday, then Monday and Wednesday are probably the better nights to tackle homework ahead of the Thursday deadline.
Teachers that communicate and follow a consistent homework policy at the beginning of the school year will probably not accept late work. If an athlete or student involved in extracurricular events isn't completing the work on time, the teacher will let the coaches or activities adviser know about it.
Your child will feel more comfortable about school if you are on top of their overall routine at home. Parents should have a consistent homework policy for the home, as in the child's homework must be complete in the evening or on the weekend before other activities are undertaken.
Schools and school districts often determine that students may participate in sports, cheer and other extracurricular activities as long as that student maintains something like an overall 2.0 grade average. That's a fair starting point, but the specific grade average standard should be set by each family in regards to the expectations of the child's potential, future academic attainment and scholarship goals.
To create an atmosphere of consistency and support, families should provide an adequate area at home for the student to complete homework, free of distraction. If electricity and internet access are required for that student work space, set the expectation that access is specifically for academic work and not personal games or communication with friends. Look for rooms that do not get frequent family use, such as formal dining rooms, dens and sewing rooms. If homework and academic achievement is a top priority, why not turn the spare bedroom into study hall?
Afternoons and evenings tend to get most of the parental focus for setting up routines. A structured morning routine will set your child up for the day and that should always include a nutritious breakfast. Consider that television with breakfast may not put a child in the right frame of my mind for participating in class. Give your child responsibilities in the morning to increase their independence, such as preparing breakfast and lunches, and packing their own backpacks and school bags.
Children do best in school when they are assisted and encouraged at home only when needed. Have them work through the difficult assignments, knowing that you are nearby to help them explore options for solving the tough parts. Praise them when they master a concept or topic. Teach them to self-assess their own progress at each step of a longer project, as if you were the one checking over their shoulder.
The next time your child has an away game, a weekend tournament or activity that involves family travel and meals outside the home, take that time you have to talk to your child about school subjects and how they feel they are doing compared to the previous year in school. On a family day trip to the mountains or recreational attraction, you can easily incorporate subjects like geography, geology, biology, history, social studies, physics and math.
General discussions at home about life and world events are appreciated at school. Teachers love it when students can engage in discussion and talk at length about the material covered, and in older students, when they have an idea and appreciation for what's going on around them.