A teacher’s job is rewarding, but it can feel like an uphill battle when parents are unable or unwilling to get involved in their student’s academic life. Parents have a wealth of knowledge about their children that teachers do not yet or cannot know — especially in preschool and kindergarten, a child’s first couple years in school. Parents can help teachers understand their child’s emotional, social and academic needs. Many teachers welcome parental involvement and want to know parents and their children more. Rather than looking at an impersonal file with test scores, parents have the insight teachers often need to create a program that fully supports students.
Kindergarten and preschool are huge transition periods for kids. Parent volunteers can help a child assimilate into a half-day or full-day preschool or kindergarten by assisting the teacher in preparing materials and facilitating activities. This can also help parents feel at ease and get a feeling for the classroom environment. Teachers who have regular parent volunteers or parents invested in their children’s learning feel that their job is easier. This is perhaps supported by the fact that parental involvement has a positive effect on student achievement. This is a win-win for both the school and students. Schools receive more funding and support from communities for higher achievement rates, and students can continue to build on their knowledge for academic and career or vocational success. Early childhood learning is a predictor of high school graduation.
Minimize Negative Classroom Behaviors
Teachers who collaborate with parents are able to join forces to determine and create intervention strategies best for the child and help minimize negative behaviors. Teachers can only do so much during the day at school. This may be especially true for children in preschool or kindergarten who have had little socialization with other children such as at a daycare. These children may have had less practice in learning to share and communicate needs and wants to peers or adults.
Parents and teachers can come to a compromise to determine appropriate goals for children and reinforce that behavior the same way so that a child has a consistent environment from home to school, with little disruption. This way the child knows what is and is not expected. This can help decrease negative behaviors and increase desirable behaviors such as borrowing toys or taking turns. Collaboration can result in parents reaffirming to the child at home what is acceptable at school even if the concepts are a bit foreign to them. Fewer negative behaviors also mean less wasted time and classroom disruptions.
Parents initiating or responding to communication to and from home helps teachers know pertinent information is getting home. This includes parental release forms as well as letting parents know what students are learning. At the beginning of the year, this is especially important for teachers. Parents may already have an idea of what their child needs to work on and can give the teacher a clue as to how their child learns. The teacher can watch for these cues and can implement strategies early on in the year. Parents can also practice the same strategies with students at home to reinforce learning. Communication is a time-saving process. Instead of having to research different strategies for each of the students in the class, the teacher will already have an idea of where to start the year with your student.
A teacher’s time is precious, and many have commitments outside of teaching during the school day. This includes family responsibilities, staff meetings, parent conferences and sometimes a second job. Parents should be cognizant of a teacher’s time but should know that many teachers want and welcome communication. Remember, it’s probably best to make an appointment first. This may help the teacher to feel respected and valued as part of your child’s life and more willing to share information and time with you.