“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ~ Anonymous
Be attentive to the dynamics of your school community. Changes are inevitable, so try to be anticipatory, flexible, and ready. Information-gathering should be ongoing, whether things are running smoothly or not. Here are 4 strategies:
UTILIZE NEIGHBORHOOD RESOURCES.
Investigate different sources of information relating to your child’s interests and learning preferences, their teachers’ suggestions, or questions or concerns you might have. Tap into networks you trust (perhaps comprised of family, friends, and professionals). Explore ideas and recommendations from various viewpoints. Peruse local publications, and credible online sites to discover learning options—for example, extracurricular activities, athletic programs, volunteerism, mentorships, and creative outlets. Check out libraries, museums, and cultural centers, too.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND CHAMPION THEM.
Does your school district have parent associations, groups, or online forums that provide platforms for information-sharing or advocacy efforts? Be savvy about trends and shifts within the local educational system—including progress, gaps, constraints, and problems. What specifically do you want to know more about? Gifted education? Funding cutbacks? Service provisions for children’s mental health and wellness? Make connections so you can acquire helpful information and support.
BE WARY OF MISINFORMATION.
Reflect upon potential learning opportunities. What merits closer attention? What information should be questioned, ignored, or taken lightly? New research is always emerging about how kids learn, how educators teach, and how parents can support their children. What’s best for your family, and set of circumstances? Be open-minded but discerning.
Convey optimistic and encouraging messages to children. Let them know you’re working cohesively with teachers to strengthen connectivity between home and school. Parents who are collaborative, informed, and resourceful are well-positioned to help effect meaningful learning for their child at any time of year.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Adapted from a previous article by Dr. Joanne Foster, published by Best Version Media’s Neighbours Magazines, and distributed across Ontario, Canada.