The smell of education is in the air. Parents have bought uniforms and school supplies are packed up and ready to go. Teachers have completed their beginning of the year requirements, decorated their classrooms and received their finalized student rolls. Students are fully aware that summer break is shortly coming to an end.
As the new school year comes upon us, the goal is to have the most efficient and successful year possible. To achieve that goal, a fundamental commitment to education by both parents and teachers is of the utmost importance. We need to provide our children with the tools they need to progress in life when they come of age.
Sure, we are optimistic, but I’m talking about a recommitted zeal to the development of our children’s foundation, an intentional acceptance that more work needs to be done and a pledge that better home-to-school partnerships are at the forefront of our short and long term plans.
Here are a few ideas I believe would go a long way to making not only this school year better, but also changing the course of education moving forward.
6 Tips for Parents
- Make your presence known. There is no one who will speak up for your children or represent them better than you. It is vitally important for you to learn how to advocate for your child and become an educational activist.
- Set clear expectations for your child. State clearly what you envision academically to your child. It is said that attitude is everything and studies have shown that students are 81% more likely to finish high school when parents express high hopes and solid expectations.
- Introduce yourself to everyone in your child’s school building. From the Head of School to the custodian, the leadership, faculty and staff should all know your name.
- Stay involved in your child’s education. You, a relative or a close family friend should be actively checking homework and assisting your child with their lessons away from school. Encourage and actively engage in reading with your child. It will increase their skills, as well as give them a greater interest in their own education.
- Stay Connected. Check regularly for all information coming from the school (letters in backpack, text, email, voicemail and the school’s Parent Portal).
- Know your rights. It’s important to know what rights parents and students have in public schools. Review this information with your children and remember that knowledge is power.
6 Tips for Teachers
- Encourage and support parental efforts. Engaged parents have the right to advocate for their kids. Make sure to partner with parents. Be an extension of the home, reinforcing a positive attitude and reminding students of the hopes and expectations expressed by their parents.
- Keep families informed. The families that you serve should be aware of everyone who may service children in their school. They should also have access, if requested, to any information on any person employed or contracted with the school.
- Create a Support System. As families set new goals, give them the support to make those goals possible.
- Get to know your students and their families. And realize that students have unique support systems that come in many shapes and sizes. Knowledge and understanding of each family’s circumstances goes a long way in educating each student properly. A family’s encouragement and engagement with homework and reading may depend solely on their personal abilities. This doesn’t mean they are not involved, but they may be limited in their effectiveness. Assist them if necessary.
- Make yourself available. I know emails create a paper trail, but nothing is more inviting and comforting as a phone call or face to face meeting.
- Be allies to parents on this educational journey. Let parents know that they and their children have rights and help them find the information and resources they may need. Trust goes a long way in establishing great home-school partnerships.
These elements are essential and vital to achieving improved educational outcomes for all parties involved. I know for a fact that most of these elements are not unfamiliar to us, but I believe that we have collectively taken them for granted. But now the complacency must end. We must get back to the time when we took pride in taking care of our neighbor, when we handled business and when we went the extra mile to get the job done.
The success of our kids and our future is dependent on us embracing this work. Let’s show our kids that we care more than ever, while getting back to the basics. Let’s start this new year with both optimism and a committed effort. I truly believe it’s easier than we know!