Parents, You are the Teacher’s Helpers


Be A Partner in Your Children’s Education

by Barb Duncan

Mom? Dad? Put your best foot forward in supporting your kids to succeed at school.

What happens at home has a huge impact on how your youngsters manage in the classroom and in the schoolyard. Here are a few everyday things you can do, as parents, that will make a positive difference.

The Basics

Maintain predictable routines, including regular times for homework and bed. Kids need to be well rested in order to concentrate in class. Get them in the habit of packing lunches and backpacks the night before school.

Provide the fuel that drives learning: make sure they eat a nutritious breakfast. Even if you’re short on time, have wholesome, portable items on hand. Talk to your kids about lunches and nutrition. Get them to go shopping with you and give them choices of healthy items. If the contents of their lunch bags are appealing, they’re less likely to trade with classmates for junk.

The Collaboration

Attend Meet the Teacher Night. Introduce yourself and be cordial. If there’s something you want the teacher to know in confidence, ask the best time and way to contact him or her.

Offer to help. If your schedule allows, volunteer as a classroom helper or chaperone on a field trip. When you don’t have time during the day, there may be ways you can use your skills to be of assistance. Ask.

Follow the rules. If an agenda is supposed to be initialed each night, tests are to be signed and forms filled out, get it done. You’re setting a good example for your kids, paying attention to what and how they’re doing, and showing the teacher you are supportive.

Reinforce learning at home. Read to and with your kids, go to the library, and discuss math concepts as you go about daily life. Cooking, shopping, hiking, watching sports, saving an allowance and making crafts can all involve fun with math. Resources are available at

Create quiet study space and time for homework; and be available to help your kids brainstorm, practice skills and talk through problems.

Let your kids do the work. Though you may be tempted to take over the Grade 6 science project—or hire an electrician to help—give the control, responsibility and opportunity back. You can help; that’s it.

The Attitude

Establish school as the priority. If your children are competitive athletes or social butterflies, be clear that education comes first. Homework, effort and marks need to be maintained in order to keep doing extra activities. Help them develop good time management skills so they can succeed at both.

Be cooperative and collaborative. If something happens at school that makes you upset, observe the 24-hour rule. Wait a day, think it through, find out the whole story, and talk politely and honestly with the teacher or school officials. You can solve problems together.

When marks on tests or difficulties with assignments indicate your kid may be struggling, don’t wait until report-card time to address it. Be proactive. Ask what you can do. Consider a tutor if it will help. If you have reason to believe your youngster has a learning difference or exceptionality, don’t panic or ignore it. Get informed and take action. There are supports, resources and options available that can be tapped to help your child flourish. Start at the Ontario Ministry of Education website. There’s a special education section.

Be a role model and advocate for your child. Ask what happened at school each day, attend parent-teacher conferences, and stay informed about school happenings via the website and social media accounts. When you’re interested and engaged as a partner in education, everybody benefits. ◆

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