As involved parents, we know our children well, including their talents, triggers, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s only natural to want to communicate this knowledge with educators once your child is in a formal learning environment outside the home. We want to advocate for our children and be abreast of their educational successes and challenges, but how much involvement is too much?
This will depend on different factors that are unique to your situation. Maybe you simply want to volunteer at your child’s school, maybe your child is struggling, or maybe you want to get involved with district policy. No matter what level you decide on, remember your true purpose and approach your offer of time with a sincere desire to help. Be open to direction and avoid the urge to micromanage.
The evil twin of the engaged parent is the pushy parent. Educators, administrators, and students alike desperately need parental engagement, but over-involvement can be very damaging to your child’s learning experience. Problems do arise, however, so here are five basic tips about keeping your involvement from becoming confrontational.
Start at the bottom and communicate in person.
If you do have a problem with how things are going for your child in the classroom, no matter what or who you believe to be the source, don’t jump over your child’s teacher and head straight to administration. This is more like tattling and less like collaboration.
Sometimes, digital communication can be a source of misunderstanding between parents and teachers, so setting up a face-to-face meeting with the teacher can help resolve misconceptions about tone that are common with emails and texts. If there is a behavioral problem to address, on the other hand, it’s not too pushy to ask for the school counselor to be involved.
Always keep your perspective in terms of your purpose. You want to contribute in a positive way, and it’s good to let teachers know this somewhat obvious fact as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it’s common for teachers to run across overbearing parents who seem to believe that only they know what’s best for their child. These parents often seem to be involved for their own benefit, not their child’s.
Don’t be that parent. A genuine offer to collaborate with your child’s educators is essential from the beginning. If you run into a problem, ask yourself if it will matter in a week. If not, then let it go. If so, don’t hesitate to involve administration if you can’t sort things out with your child’s educator directly.
Enroll your child in a private preschool with a proven record for positive partnerships with parents.
Getting off to a good start is always good, especially when it comes to your child’s education. More and more teachers are choosing to be trained in parental engagement, so look until you find a school that values your involvement as a parent.
When positive partnerships are built between parents, educators, and administrators, everyone wins. Starting off in a school where that’s possible, such as Phoenix Children’s Academy’s private preschool prep school, will uniquely enhance your child’s education right from the start.
Role model your learning styles and techniques.
One of the most basic and highly impactful ways you can participate in your child’s education from an early age is to be a role model for learning. The first time you expressively show curiosity in front of your child, this lesson has already begun.
As you learn to appeal to your child’s interests and learning styles, you will find creative ways to explore counting, nature, and reading, among other activities or areas of learning that your child finds appealing and fun.
Once your child begins learning in a school environment, you can explain to them the ways this new setting is an extension of what they were learning at home. This will help make the new environment more familiar and give their transition more meaning.
Find a balance.
Remember that no matter how much your child likes having you around for school activities or events, they also want – and need – their freedom to learn in your absence. The trick is to find a balance in all that you juggle and to make it work for you, your children, and their educators. This can be difficult, but make sure the level of your involvement doesn’t take too much time away from not only your family life but also your “me” time.