There is a great article on the MSN home page today. It's written by Craig Playstead (did he make that up?). The article is about the mistakes parents make and I want to specifically comment about one of them.
Here is what Mr. Playstead says is #3- Failing to get involved at school
"School is where your kids will spend more time than any place besides your home. It's also the place that will have the most responsibility for shaping their life—from teachers and their peers. That being said, how can you not want to be involved in what's going on there? It doesn't matter if it's you or your spouse: Your family needs to have a presence at that school. And don't use work as an excuse—take a vacation day if you need to. You'll see immediately that it's time well spent. You should also have at least an e-mail relationship with their teacher. It's a great way for that teacher to see that you're interested in your child's development, and the teacher can alert you to anything concerning that may be going on with your son or daughter. Your kid's teacher may take a much more active role with your child if they know you're keeping close tabs."
From a teacher's perspective I just want to add a big "Amen!". This is my tenth year as an public school teacher. (I also taught many years in private daycare.) I've taught in five different school systems and they all have the same problem- lack of parental involvement. Yes, I know about work schedules and family responsibilities. However, I once met the parents of my four-year-old student at a ballgame, in November, because I introduced myself! And I never saw them again!
Granted, that situation was the extreme. It is far more common for me to see parents two or three times a year, with a few notes and emails in between. However, the more you visit school, participate in field trips and activities, and communicate with your child's teacher, the more satisfied you will be with your child's education. And your child will be more successful- I can almost guarantee it! Parents who stay in touch with their child's teacher not only understand expectations, but are quick to help with minor problems before they become major ones.
Older children may not express delight if their parents hang around school "too much", but younger ones love for their parents to visit. A surprise lunch visit or participation in a class activity makes them swell with pride. Parents are often hesitant at first, but I always encourage them to visit and see for themselves what I teach and how I teach it. If your child's teacher doesn't want you in the classroom once in a while, I would question why.
If you haven't been very involved in your child's education, you have a chance to change that. When the new school year begins, ask your child's teacher about the most effective way of communicating: notes, phone calls, emails. Every teacher has a preference. Notes and emails fit my schedule best. Each of my students has a "daily communication" folder that they carry in their backpack. Ask the teacher about field trips, projects and class activities. Ask about lunch visits. And most important of all, get a schedule of the parent-teacher conferences and mark them on your calendar.
Be involved. Be an advocate for your child. Be a partner with your child's teacher.
And read the rest of the article.