Help Your Child Succeed
Parents are Their Children's First Teachers
What do children need from parents?
- Encouragement - Give your child praise for efforts and for completing assignments.
- Availability - Encourage your child to do the work independently, but be available for assistance.
- Scheduling - Establish a set time to do homework each day. You may want to use a calendar to keep track of assignments and due dates.
- Space - Provide a space for homework, stocked with necessary supplies, such as pencils, pens, paper, dictionaries, a computer, and other reference materials.
- Discipline - Help your child focus on homework by removing distractions, such as television, radio, telephone, and interruptions from siblings and friends.
- Modeling - Consider doing some of your work, such as paying bills or writing letters, during your child's homework time.
- Support - Talk to your child about difficulties with homework. Be willing to talk to your child's teacher to resolve problems in a positive manner.
- Involvement - Familiarize yourself with the Homework Policy. Make sure that you and your child understand the teacher's expectations. At the beginning of the year, you may want to ask your child's teacher:
- What kinds of assignments will you give?
- How often do you give homework?
- How much time are the students expected to spend on them?
- What type of involvement do you expect from parents?
Making the Most of your Parent-Teacher Conference
With so much to talk about in so little time, here's how you can make the most of your meeting:
Before the Teacher Conference
- Start preparing early. Don't wait until the night before to get organized. Create a folder at the beginning of the year in
which you store test scores, big homework assignments, and your notes (about things your child has told you or any
other topics you want to address).
- Talk to your child. Ask how she's doing in class, what's going on during lunchtime, recess, and when she goes to
special classes like music or gym. "You want to find out both the positive and negative," says Rozea. If you don't like
what you're hearing, investigate. Talk to other parents to see if their children are expressing similar concerns. "You
need to find out whether your child is perceiving everything accurately or if she's misunderstanding a situation," she
During the Teacher Conference
- Arrive early. With only a few precious minutes to spend, you don't want to be late. It will shorten your time with your
child's teacher and affect her day's entire schedule.
- Enter with the right attitude. The goal of both the teacher and the parent should be the success of the student, but
sometimes parents have a hard time discussing tough issues. Rather than put the teacher on the defensive, arrive with a
compliment to start the conference off on the right foot. ("My son is really enjoying the unit on space" or "We had a
great time on the field trip.") Then address any concerns in a respectful way.
- Find out the communication protocol. Don't let this be the only time you talk to your child's teacher. Ask how
she likes to communicate, suggests Sagarese, whether it's by e-mail, notes passed through a folder, or phone calls.
"Reinforce that you are there if she wants to talk to you," she says. "Let the teacher know you want to be that kind of
After the Teacher Conference
- Follow up. If the teacher brings something to your attention that needs to be addressed with your child, take steps to
put the plan in motion, whether it's helping with organizational skills, getting extra help, or addressing a social issue.
- Update your child. Start with the positive things her teacher had to say, then fill her in on any concerns you and the
teacher discussed. Explain how you can all work together to ensure your child has a successful year.