You might not have the time, desire or funding potential to educate your children at home personally, but that doesn’t mean your little one is going to be deprived of learning important lessons, understanding essential academic topics, and developing capably.
It also doesn’t mean you have to take a distant approach towards your child’s education, only asking them a few questions about school at the dinner table. While overly micro-managing every single aspect of their schooling can be quite harmful and lead to soured relationships between you and the school, it’s true to say that as a parent, you’re entitled to become more involved in your child’s education to determine their healthiest development, or to provide extra support where necessary.
A simple example, of course, is just helping them with their homework. This is a skill, as helping them understand the question asked and then discussing an answer is much better than hinting at the answer directly. As you can see, you’ll hold plenty of positive influence over your little one in this light.
But how can we become more involved in our child’s education without stepping on toes, causing undue confusion, or making perfect the enemy of great? In this post, we’ll determine eight ways this might take place.
- Get Involved In Your Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO)
It’s good to get involved in your parent-teacher organization for many reasons. It can help you keep up on the school calendar, help out with essential initiatves like school trips (volunteering as a chaperone may help a trip take place where it otherwise could have been cancelled), and even PTO fundraising for new events and utilities can be a fantastic useof your time.
These collaborative organizations help teachers better connect with parents, and parents better understand the teachers and their goals for the years. By enriching the academic, experiential and even social experience of school, your child is sure to have a much better time, and develop with care. These healthy relationships, well-nurtured, can be a fantastic place benefit worth spending your time on.
Furthermore, while the public or private school will ultimately be responsible for delivering the expected curriculum, you do get to implement your contributions, provided they’re not overbearing. You’d be amazed how beneficial that can be.
- If You Have The Time For It, Volunteer
It can be fantastic to volunteer as a parent for the school, as explained above, sometimes it will help teachers put on events that they may not have been able to otherwise. They will also be able to give you a little more access to the school than they would with anyone else, as having a child in the academy helps to vet you as a trusted person.
They might ask for simple measures, like explained above, heading with the school on the local museum trip can help you ensure the children are properly guided to the destination, can cross the road safely, and may be protected should an emergency happen. It may be more involved, such as asking you to help design the stage setting for the end-of-year theatre production.
This is unlikely to be paid, but if getting involved is what you want, volunteering like that provides its own form of value.
- Reinforce Learning With Cultural Activities
Of course, your child’s education isn’t going to come from school on its own. In fact, it’s possible to make an argument that a significant share of their development won’t necessarily come from sitting in a classroom, even if it is integral.
So – could you reinforce learning yourself? Heading to art galleries, historical sites, museums, aquariums, and planetariums, or even exploring your local town can be tremendously valuable. For instance, showcasing how rock has eroded over the years can be a good lesson in geography; as can showcasing how the moon affects the tides by heading to the waterfront and using this as an excuse to go crabbing.
Getting out there and exploring the world is a great use of your time, inspires a love for learning, and better yet, many of these examples are free thanks to government subsidised.
- Teach Topics That You Love
Children tend to pick up your interests through osmosis. If their parent is continually restoring classic cars in the garage, and allows the child to watch or to pass a tool from time to time, you can bet a natural interest will grow.
Odds are, you’re skilled or at least interested in a certain topic yourself. No matter if this is showing how you play the violin, or enjoy home baking and are happy to help them mix the dough, education can come from you also. If you’re a functional adult, which you probably are, then you have something to give.
Moreover, this becomes much better when delivered by a parent. So don’t be afraid to invite your child for that small fishing outing, or to garden and pot plants with them. They’ll learn.
- Make Homework Fun, & Try To Be Patient
Homework is often seen as a tiresome chore in the mind’s of many children, but it doesn’t have to be. This doesn’t mean you need to put on a home puppet show with live music just to get their multiplication tables completed, but being as patient as you can is key to help them engage with the work.
Working together as if you’re both trying to find the answer can make a major difference in how they approach the content in front of them. Watching a child-appropriate video on the Roman Empire can a fun way for you to both engage in the topic and serve as a preparation for a history project for example.
Of course, we’re aware that you won’t have all the time in the world, no questions asked, to interface with your child’s education in this way. But contributing what you can makes all the difference in the world.
- If You Can Afford It, Consider Sponsoring Musical/Sporting Lessons
Extra hobbies and skills can be a good way to help develop your child, without having to constantly focus on academic or cultural topics. For instance, dance lessons, martial arts, guitar lessons, or even niche hobbies run by certain teachers, like the science club if your child enjoys that, can be a healthy way to compound knowledge, try something new, and practice more skills.
This might require a little investment, for instance purchasing your child an acoustic guitar, a strap, a tuner and a book of chords to practice will take a little investment, but this can last years, and the school might have a program to help discount the cost of certain instruments purchased.
This not only helps a child learn more, but it will grow their confidence. Team sports are a fantastic example of this, but by no means the only one.
- Engage With Teacher’s Advice Where Possible
You are ultimately the person who makes decisions about your child’s education, within the appropriate confines of the law of course; as children deserve to be educated correctly and thankfully, this is mandated by the state.
That said, you rarely have the kind of impartial or professional perspective that a good teacher will have, and that’s important to recognize. Parent-teacher meetings, being asked to meet with the teacher, and end-of-year reports can make a big difference in understanding how your child is developing, their strengths, and their weaknesses.
Don’t worry – every child has at least one weakness at school, and that’s quite normal. It’s important to listen to these teachers, and taking their advice in an actionable sense – even if it means something difficult like approaching a behavioural therapist to help with your child’s candor, or potentially going to the doctor to make sure everything is okay. As you no doubt understand, educational utility is not always about how intelligent your child is, but how they fit in the school, social, and personal environment.
- Find The Correct School For Your Child If Alternate Arrangements Are Needed
A little more on that last point. Sometimes, children need a little support, or perhaps a little more stimulation. If your child is disabled, for instance, that doesn’t mean they can’t find a good education appropriate for their level. Finding a school better equipped to deal with their needs as opposed to forcing them to stay in a ‘conventional environment’ might be more harmful than helpful – but of course, you will judge the situation as best you can.
For some children, skipping grades or moving up a level is totally possible. It’s hard to see how a parent might disagree with this if it’s been heavily suggested by educational authorities within their school. That’s probably not an issue you would need advice with.
Regardless, with this advice, we hope you can become more involved in your child’s education in the healthiest possible light. You deserve to enact that kind of interest, it’s your child after all, but also to implement a kind of balanced approach where all parties are happy. If you’ve read this entire post, odds are you’re the kind of parent who will be excellent in this pursuit.