One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to be involved in your child’s education. Studies have shown that children with parents involved in their schooling have higher academic achievement, have greater respect for teachers and learning, are more involved in extracuriccular activities, and enjoy school more than students whose parents aren’t involved. Even before your child is school-age, you can be involved in their education. Some helpful ideas are:
Age 0-1 years: This age it’s important to build a strong relationship with your child. This enables the child to form relationships with other adults later on in his/her life, including teachers. It also allows your child to know that you will always be there for him/her whenever s/he is struggling. In order to form a relationship with your child, attend to his/her needs, play with him/her, sing and read books with your child, keep your voice calm and caring with disciplining, and involve your child in your day-to-day activities.
Age 1-2 years: This age, vocabulary is the essential educational tool. Your child is building his/her vocabulary by listening and watching. Some great ways to help build his/her vocabulary are reading to/with your child, talk to/with your child about things that you’re doing, involve your child in your activities such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc., get down and play with your child, and elaborate on your child’s sentences.
Age 2-3 years: This year is the year children need experiences. Play dates, outdoor adventures, story time, trips to orchards, and other experiences help build your child’s schemas. A schema is a location in the brain that holds all the information about one particular topic, and links topics together by relevance. Having experiences such as walking through the woods, helps your child to connect ideas such as wild life and habitats.
Age 3-5 years: These years are the years children start to understand and build social skills. Playdates are helpful, as well as pretend play (dress-up). Children will “try out” different personalities and roles in your home; encourage this, and discuss how the child’s choices are linked to the outcomes. This will help your child later when they deal with children they may not like.
Elementary School: Children in elementary school are gone most of the day. However, parents can still become actively involved by providing enrichment activities at home. For example, if your child is learning about fractions, have your child help you cook/bake. Discuss how fractions are in a recipe, and how you divide the fractions in half if you’re making half the recipe. These connections can help your child later in the classroom. In addition to providing enrichment activities, parents can talk with the teacher to find out what they can do to volunteer in the classroom. Even if you don’t have time to volunteer, the teacher might like you to send along a favorite book that can be shared with the other students. Seeing you actively engaged in his/her school will tell your child how important school and education are.
Teachers love to have parents involved, because it forms a relationship between you and the teacher. This relationship is a net, that catches the child in case he/she ever falls. Often communication is lost between home and school, and neither the parent nor the teacher sees a problem until it’s too late.
Becoming actively involved in your child’s education is a simple, inexpensive way of ensuring that your child succeeds in life. Remember that you as the parent are the advocate for you child: stand up for him/her, and push him/her to succeed.