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Parent teacher partnership: How important is it for me, as a parent, to be involved in my child's education?

Recent studies show that when families are involved in their children's education in positive ways, children get higher grades and test scores, have better attendance at school, complete more homework, and demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior. Families who receive frequent and positive messages from teachers tend to become more involved in their children's education than do parents who do not receive this kind of communication.

One way to foster children's learning is through efforts involving both families and schools, where parents and teachers share responsibility for creating a working relationship to help children succeed academically. Following are suggestions on building positive parent-teacher relationships.

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Parent teacher partnership: Parent-teacher conference

  • Read together. Read with your children and let them see you and older children read. When adult family members read to their children or listen to them read regularly, achievement improves. Take your children to the library to get a library card and help them find books to suit their interests.
  • Establish a family routine. Routines generally include time for completing homework, doing chores, eating meals together, and going to bed at an established time. These daily events are important to make life predictable for children and satisfying for all family members. Encourage your child's efforts and be available for questions while she is engaged in academic work and spend time discussing what she has learned.
  • Use television wisely. Limit the amount of time children spend watching television. Help them choose appropriate programs for viewing. Sit down and watch that program with them. When chosen carefully, some TV programs can help increase interest in learning.
  • Keep in touch with the school. Stay aware of what your children are learning, what their assignments are, and how they are doing. Visit the school and talk with teachers via parent/teacher conferences or family nights. If you can't visit, schedule a telephone call to discuss your child's progress.
  • Offer praise and encouragement. Parents and families play an important role in influencing a child's confidence and motivation to become a successful learner. Encourage children to complete assignments and introduce them to outside experiences that will enhance their self-confidence and broaden their interests.

In the efforts to connect schools with parents, educators can:

  • Involve parents in classroom activities. Teachers can let families know how they can be helpful and can ask for their assistance with specific activities. Parents can participate by preparing classroom materials, serving on committees, or sharing information about their careers or hobbies. The more involved parents are in what goes on in the classroom, the more likely they will understand the teacher's goals and practices.
  • Communicate to parents at the beginning of the school year or semester about school policies and services. Inform them about classroom goals and give a few examples of what the children will be learning.
  • Foster good communication during parent/teacher conferences. When meeting with family members, create a comfortable environment in which parents feel free to share information, ask questions, and make recommendations. Point out the projects that involved their child and share information in a way that encourages respectful two-way communication. Be careful not to make assumptions about a family member's level of knowledge, understanding or interest. Schedule an adequate amount of time for the conference so parents do not feel rushed.

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What education choices are available for my children?

Schooling

When your children reach pre-kindergarten/kindergarten age, you are faced with the decision to send them to a public or private school.

Public schools are the most readily available option. Attendance to public schools is assigned by neighborhood, but there are instances when you can choose which school your children attend as long as you provide transportation. These schools are usually comprehensive, providing general education, services for exceptional students, as well as preparation for college and careers.

For information about programs offered in the Miami-Dade Public Schools, call 305-995-1000.

Private schools have many possibilities. You can choose alternative schools for at-risk children and children with particular needs and problems. Parochial schools provide religious focus in addition to academics. Accelerated schools are tailored to the needs of gifted children. Specialized private schools emphasize various subjects or goals, such as fine arts, academic, college preparation or technology. Depending on your children's abilities and needs, these options can be very beneficial. But costs can be substantial, ranging from a few thousand dollars to $15,000 or more each year. Please also be prepared for the possibility of entrance exams and waiting lists.

Home schooling is increasingly popular. Many supports are available for parents who choose this alternative. Teaching materials and books are available for a cost, and children are required to take national standardized achievement tests. Home schooling is particularly appealing to parents of children who seem to have abilities in areas not measurable by report cards, who want to spend more time with their children, and who feel traditional education does not adequately fulfill their children's as well as parent's needs. You also could choose a combination of teaching your children at home while enrolling them in a couple of classes at your closest public or private school.

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Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education


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