Recently I have begun to serve as a tutor and volunteer at the Brunner Literacy Center. Over the past three months, I have had the opportunity to speak with several students who have children in school – preschool through high school. In the course of these conversations, one of the things I have stressed is the value of parents maintaining communication with their child’s teacher. Several opportunities are provided for parents:
Parent-Teacher Conferences: Schools generally provide conference times during or at the end of the first grading period. Many will also provide a conference time in the spring. Of course, parents always have the right to request a conference with a teacher to discuss concerns or to ask questions. As a teacher for ten years and administrator for thirty-three years, I always believed that open communication between home and school is one of the best ways to insure that children are receiving an optimal educational experience.
Schools are required to provide information to both custodial and non-custodial parents. The only exception is if there is a court order prohibiting the non-custodial parent from having any contact with the school.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Some children receive instruction, often individual, outside the regular classroom setting. Generally an IEP is developed for the child which outlines the goals in a particular subject area, for example reading or mathematics, for the academic year. Federal, state, and/or local school laws and best practice require that parents (custodial and non-custodial) be invited to a conference to discuss the plan at both the beginning and end of the academic year. Attendance at both conferences provides valuable information for the parent(s) and lets the child know that his/her parents are interested not only in the child’s progress but also want to know how they can reinforce the school experience at home.
Why be involved in your child’s education?
Two students at the Center commented that they want their children to do well in school so that as adults they won’t be faced with challenges resulting from their inability to read or to perform basic math computations. I encouraged them to play an active role in their child’s education.
I often used the analogy that removing a small stone from one’s shoe as soon as the wearer notices it prevents blisters and an aching foot. If the stone is left in place, the pain becomes much greater. So, too, what seems like a small concern on the part of a parent, if left unattended, can result in a much bigger issue. Parents and teachers all want what is best for the children.
Truly maintaining a strong parent- school connection greatly enhances a child’s academic success. By working together, amazing things can be accomplished!