For quite some time in American, the trend for upper middle class Americans has been to send their children to private schools when they felt public schools weren’t working. Recently, that trend has turned to home schooling – which is a more economical choice if one parent can afford to stay at home. But parents don’t always have these options. Especially in today’s uncertain economy, sometimes neither private schooling nor home schooling is feasible. This is the case for my family and is an issue I’ve seen from all sides. I’ve had kids in public school, watched them floundering, opted for while for the private bipoc astrologer school, then later home schooled, and finally put them back into public school because I myself had to go to work – and what do I do? I’m a teacher. I’ve been a parent – on the outside looking in – and I’ve been and still am a teacher within the public school system. I know the downfalls, many of which cannot be fixed mostly because of political agendas both at the federal and the state levels. But I have learned through this gamut of experiences – that there are a few precise actions that parents can take to make public schools work for them.
First – Be Visible
Whether your child is in elementary school or high school, make sure you have met and talked with his teachers and even the principal. Know their faces and make sure they know yours – and especially in middle school and high school, make sure they associate you with your son or daughter. This doesn’t have to be more than an initial meeting but it goes a long way in establishing expectations with the teacher. If the teacher knows who you are, she knows she can count on you for support and will make the extra effort to contact you if problems arise.
Second – Establish Quick and Easy Methods of Communication
Make sure your teacher has your email address, your cell phone number, and your home number. Let her know when the best time is to reach you. Get the same information from her. If your child’s teacher knows that you want to be informed, you will have a much better chance of knowing what is going on with your child and how you can help. Many times, especially in the upper grades, a teacher may hesitate to call or email if she doesn’t know how receptive you may be to what she has to tell you.
Third – Read to Your Child and Make Your Child Read to You
When a child is in elementary school, reading to and with him is expected, but as the child goes into middle school, parents often assume this is no longer needed. As middle school teacher, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Many times I have listened to a 7th grade student struggle to read aloud and wondered if his parents had any idea how poor his reading skills were. As a parent, you don’t have to worry about teaching your child to read; more than likely he has gotten the reading fundamentals. However, what he needs from you is practice, practice, practice. Read to him, read with him, and make sure he always has a book handy and that he takes time away from the TV to read. If he can read and read well, the world will be his oyster – no matter how good or how poor his schooling may be. You can make sure that he is a good reader, and then nothing will be able to stop him.
Fourth – Make Sure Your Child Knows His Multiplication Tables
This one is so simple yet so very necessary and literally can open or close the doors to future math ability. In today’s world of computers and calculators, actually memorizing the multiplication tables is often put on the back burner or even considered unnecessary. Sometimes school systems will adopt math programs that do not stress the memorization. However, as a teacher, I can tell you for a fact that the students who struggle the most with the higher math concepts nearly always have not thoroughly memorized their multiplication tables. They have to think too long and too hard on simple math facts to be able to quickly and efficiently solve the equations they are asked to solve. It’s like asking them to lay a brick wall when they have to go searching for the bricks. So, even if your child’s teachers don’t require him to do it, you need to make sure he memorizes his tables. Get simple flashcards; give him rewards every time he learns a new set – whatever you have to do to ensure this happens. Just like good reading is the cornerstone to all other learning, knowing the multiplication tables is the cornerstone to all higher math concepts.