Our boys have received their education in a wide variety of settings — public school, private school, homeschool. Public schools included typical classrooms, parent co-op programs, special education, and now the 18-21 transition program. We did Christian school and speciality schools, and even had preschool with Gramma. I guess you could say we’ve pretty much done it all!
From my experience, here are some tips that can help make the school year a success for your child, the teacher, and you.
1. Volunteer in the classroom. There are dozens of ways a teacher can utilize parent volunteers. In both the co-op and Christian school programs, I brought in library books that supported a theme the teacher was emphasizing. Kids often need tutoring or special assistance with a project. Sign up to go along on field trips. Be a hall monitor or offer your services to the school secretary.
2. Get to know the other kids in your child’s classroom; get to know their parents. It will help your relationship with your own child if you know his or her friends and even the class bully.
3. Show your appreciation to the teacher and other staff with an occasional note or phone call. They really do work hard and are grateful to know that people appreciate what they do.
4. Approach difficult conversations with kindness. Your gentleness will pave the way for a much better outcome than your anger ever could. Don’t ignore the hard stuff that needs to be discussed, nor let your emotions drive you.
5. If your child needs special help, pursue it. Not all kids will function well in the traditional classroom. If your child is one who doesn’t fit, explore options with the school.
6. Stay involved in your child’s education, even when he or she gets into middle school and high school. You are your child’s best cheerleader and, when necessary, advocate.
7. Be on the lookout for other people who can be involved in your child’s life, people in the community who can be aware of your kids. On more than one occasion, people I consider my “eyes and ears in the community” have expressed a concern that has prompted action on our part as parents!
8. Look for mentors for your student, adults who can help shape your child’s experience and worldview. Coaches or music teachers can often fill this role, or maybe some of the parents of your child’s friends. You might find a man or woman from your church or community who would be a good influence on your child.