Parents often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Some days, I look up from work, and it’s already dinner time. Many of us may feel like we are never doing quite enough. And, as working parents, it can be difficult to master time management. Days can get away from us, and to-do lists grow longer.
Life can seem like a never-ending juggling act when you consider responsibilities at work, household chores, pick-up and drop-off, children’s appointments, school, sporting events, and homework. To help, we’ve asked two experts for tips on supporting your kid’s education and managing school involvement.
How To Stay On Top of Your Child’s Schoolwork
Allison Wilson, Senior Director of Curriculum and Innovation at Stratford School, said parental involvement boosts student achievement. “As parents,” Wilson said, “we have so many conflicting priorities, but we can intentionally create time to talk and listen to our children. By doing so, we display a genuine interest in their learning, form deeper connections and bonds, and support their growth.”
Wilson also said the key to staying on top of schoolwork is open lines of communication with your child and their teacher. She offered the following tips:
- Get to know your child’s teacher and how to best communicate with them.
- Homework can serve as a great tool in building your child’s responsibility. Know the school’s homework policies and processes. Encourage your child to learn what is expected from them regarding homework expectations.
- Discuss what your child is learning about each day, and schedule time in the evening to discuss the highs and lows of the day.
- Set simple and achievable goals together throughout the week. (In our family, we set an academic, physical, and social goal each morning.)
Donna Whittaker, VP of Curriculum and Education at Big Blue Marble Academy, said, “Open communication with your child’s teacher will help everyone involved. A parent might be privy to information about how and where their child is struggling or succeeding and be able to share that information with a teacher. Some children may not feel comfortable sharing their struggles in a classroom setting but will share with a parent across the dinner table or right before bedtime. In contrast, your child’s teacher may be able to provide some insight on what is happening in the classroom that your child hasn’t shared at home.”
In my household, having a designated daily time to sit down and discuss my daughter’s academics has been extremely helpful. I ask her what subjects she loves, but also what things she is having trouble grasping. If your child also has a take-home folder, look inside and review it together at a set time each day.
“Parents need to know what their children are learning, what is expected of them, and how they are progressing,” said Whittaker. “As my daughter’s cross country coach would say, ‘It is easier to stay up than catch up.’ This holds true for your child but also for you as the parent.”
How To Stay Involved With Their School
Be an active member of your child’s school community. Although volunteering at school may seem like another to-do added to the laundry list of parental responsibilities, the benefits are great. It teaches our children the importance of community. It creates bonds with other parents and, in turn, creates closer bonds between your child’s peers.
There are so many different ways to show up for your child’s school. Whittaker said, “Contrary to popular belief, there are more ways to be involved in school events than volunteering to be a judge at field day or reading to children on a Tuesday morning. Ask your child’s teacher how you can be of service to them, to the classroom, or to the school as a whole.” Whittaker offered some examples:
- Are you a night owl who could type out a class newsletter while watching your favorite TV show?
- Are you an online bargain shopper who could spend an early Saturday morning searching for the best deal on decorations for the school’s fall festival?
- Does the principal need someone to serve on the parent advisory board that meets via Zoom once a semester?
The point is that being “involved” doesn’t necessarily mean volunteering as the room parent or leading the parent-teacher organization. As long as you’re involved with your child’s schooling, and they know you’re there for them—you’re doing amazing!