The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Education is a Joint Effort Between the Home and the School

The education of children is a joint venture between home
and the school. The more the spirit of cooperation can be
developed between parents and teachers the more successful the
school year will be for students. There are many ways that
adults can foster this spirit of cooperation.

It helps if parents are positive about their attitude toward
school. Parents with doubts about the school, have difficulty
letting their children go, or are nervous about their children’s
safety can dampen their children’s enthusiasm for this new
adventure. It is best for parents not to voice these fears to
the child. Instead of warning the child about what might happen,
help the child to become independent enough so that he or she
will be able to handle most situations. If you feel confident,
the child will sense this and feel confident himself. When the
child expresses fears, listen well and be reassuring and
encouraging. Do not belittle those fears or say they are not
realistic. To the child they are real. Instead, discuss ways of
confronting the problems and resolving them.

It is sometimes difficult for parents to have a positive
attitude toward school. They are disappointed because their
child did not get the “most popular teacher.” They are unhappy
because they feel there are some children in the class who are
“undesirable companions” for their own children. They feel their
child is “not being challenged” by the curriculum the teacher is
offering, or they might feel their child is being overwhelmed by
work. When parents have these kinds of concerns, it is best to
resolve them on an adult level with school personnel and not
involve the children. The child does best if he approaches the
new school year with confidence in his ability to succeed. He
should not feel that this ability has been compromised because of
perceived deficiencies which may not really be problems.

I suggest to parents who have concerns about their child’s
reaction to school to make an appointment with the teacher early
in the school year. This is especially true for parents of
children who tend to be misunderstood by teachers or who take a
long time to adjust to new situations. Sometimes parents wait to
see what is going to happen and then react. I think it is best
to take action first. Teachers appreciate having information
about their students which helps to understand them better.

In this type of initial conference, parents and teacher get
to know each other so that they can cooperate more fully for the
benefit of the student. It is, therefore, important that the
student be discussed in positive terms. The parent, who knows how
the child learns best, can mention strategies which take
advantage of the child’s strengths rather than his weaknesses.
The parent might say that the child learns best visually,
therefore, oral instruction should be repeated or written down
for her. Or she does better with short assignments rather than
long ones. Or she is very conscientious and becomes very
concerned when she makes a mistake. Or she tends to be
distractible and does better when she can take short breaks. The
parent might want to mention that the student is very shy and
might need help becoming a member of the group because she covers
up her shyness. It is important to mention the child’s strengths
and interests: She loves to play soccer and is interested in
animals. At this conference, it would help the teacher to know
about any unusual home situation that would affect the child in
school.

It helps, also, if parents can get a feel for what the child
experiences during the school day. This can be done by
volunteering to help in the classroom or by going on class trips.
If the parents’ work schedule makes these choices impossible, it
might be possible for the parent to eat lunch with the child in
the cafeteria once in a while. Parents with special expertise
can also volunteer to share this with their child’s classmates.

It is everybody’s responsibility to foster a spirit of
cooperation in the school. The more it is developed, the more
successful the students will be and everyone can look forward to
another wonderful school year.

Posted in From Experience, Getting the Most For Your Child, Parenting, Teachers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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