Fostering Connections between Home and School

As a parent, you are the major provider of your child’s education from birth through adolescence. You guide the development of her character and mental health and help form the foundation from which she’ll develop lifelong attitudes and interests. And because your home is the primary environment in which your child’s potential and personality will take shape, it’s important to make sure that you create a positive, open atmosphere that will not only support what goes on in the classroom, but will also instill the desire to learn.

And while it’s true that all of the facts, skills, and concepts your children learn at school are influenced by what you do at home, your child’s education is equally impacted by the relationships you form with her teachers. Building an effective relationship with the teacher is a critical task, and, like you, every teacher wants to achieve this goal. As with any relationship, mutual respect, the ability to listen, and lots of communication form the foundation.

Most educators believe in parent participation in children’s education, but “participation” means different things to different teachers. To some, it might mean helping children with homework, returning notes and sending things in on time, and coming to school when notified to do so. But it should mean much more. Work with the teacher to find out some ways you can contribute to the classroom, but always be sure to do it within the guidelines she’ll provide for you.

As often as possible, try to participate in field trips and classroom events such as festivals, story or sing along events, art shows, and class celebrations or simply be part of daily routine classwork. Include grandparents, siblings, caregivers, and family friends wherever possible. Your child will be delighted. Ask about ways to share your culture — food, music, photos, and traditions — with the class. Not only will this help strengthen your child’s self-esteem, it will also enrich the learning experience for the entire class and foster an appreciation of diversity.

For parents and teachers alike, the goal is to play active roles in your child’s life and to work towards forming a real bond. The child’s best interest is always served when she has lots of people rooting for her and all the pieces of her life fit together. A successful parent-teacher partnership also shows a child that an entire team of adults is on her side. A strong home-school connection will set the stage for a confident child who will grow up with a love for learning.