The ability to start and maintain an effective stream of communication between parents and their children’s school is critical. Even more so when it comes to core STEM areas that might even be a bit of a black hole for parents in terms of their own understanding.
While schools are very interested and invested in communicating with parents they also have to juggle many priorities including their most prominent one – educating your children, so sometimes the lines of communication can get clogged. Here are a few ideas to help.
If you child’s school has a parents organization, consider joining. If you cannot join at least make sure to get included in any email lists they as these are often wonderful opportunities to learn what is going on. Also, make it a point to go to at least a few events held by the parents organization – this is a great way to meet other parents who can be a great source for simply staying in the loop.
If your child’s school has an open house, make sure you attend. This is a great opportunity to meet your child’s teacher – as you will likely see when you arrive, as excited and interested as you are in meeting your child’s teacher, the teacher similarly will share an enthusiasm for meeting you! The open house in particular is a great opportunity to ask questions. Make sure to ask the big one though: How do we stay in touch with you? If you are not satisfied with the answer, rather than being confrontational perhaps suggest to the teacher that they take a few days to consider your question further and maybe they can get back to you either by email, by phone or even by sending a note home with your child.
Another way to stay in touch with the school is to make sure you sign up for any school or even district wide email lists. Remember, your school is probably very interested in communicating with you, but your school is also juggling a number of other very pressing priorities. They do not want you, the parent to get lost in the shuffle, but anything you can do on your end to help them, like signing up for any suggested means of communication can help.
Make sure to visit your school’s website. In today’s world, where everyone is “connected” the school website can be a very rich source of information to learn about what is happening at school.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure to establish a clear line of communication with your child. Your children are easily your best source of information and can be key in helping you stay connected to their school. Perhaps if your child is younger when you ask how was your day at school today you will get a standard one word reply (“fine”, “good” or the famous shoulder shrug). But by asking this question early you are accomplishing a number of very different goals:
- You are letting your child know early on how big a priority their education is
- You are staying involved in the process
- You hearing directly from you child about their feeling on their own education
- And, as your child blossoms and has more developed verbal and social skills, you have already laid the ground work down for a continued dialogue surround the subject
And one bonus tip: for younger students pack a book in their bag. Perhaps a book about the planets (yes we are a science education technology company so we had to go there), a book about manners, a book about learning life lessons. By sending books to school you are in fact communicating with your child’s teacher. You are saying that you are “invested” and perhaps they’ll send some messages back. With this tip just make sure that you are not going overboard and making your child’s teacher feel as if perhaps you are disapproving of the job they are doing.
Hope those ideas help. Again as it is early in the school year, as a parent you still have a number of really good opportunities to help open up the lines of communication with both your child’s school and your child’s teacher.