Magazine article Work & Family Life

10 Ways to Make the Home-School Connection Work

Magazine article Work & Family Life

10 Ways to Make the Home-School Connection Work

Article excerpt


The job of preparing our children for an uncertain future is too big for just the school or just the parents. Principals, teachers and parents must work together. We are all responsible and each of us has much to gain from partnership. -The Family Matters Project, Cornell University

Why are schools best for kids when parents and teachers work together as partners?

Children are more motivated to learn when they know their parents value education and are keeping in touch with the school about their progress. When parents and teachers are comfortable talking with each other, tensions around small problems such as lost homework or a misunderstood assignment can be sorted out while larger academic or behavior problems can be avoided or at least dealt with more easily. In schools all over the country, parent involvement has been shown to make a difference in the quality of education children receive.

What's standing in the way of better communication?

Some parents carry over negative feelings about teachers from their own school years. Parents from some cultures find it difficult to relate to teachers as partners because they hold them in awe. Differences in age, race and income between parents and teachers can also make a positive relationship more difficult to establish, according to research by Work & Family Life Executive Editor Ellen Galinsky and Marybeth Shinn from New York University.

Parents find that some schools are not welcoming to working families because they continue to schedule PTA meetings and parent conferences during the day. Although many teachers are working parents themselves, they are often judgmental when parents are unable to join a class trip, come to the school immediately to pick up a sick child or attend a meeting or conference. Dr. Susan Kontos of Purdue University has also found that teachers tend to be more critical of single or divorced parents and families in which both parents are working.

How to make the home-school connection work for you

1 Take time now, at the beginning of the school year, to make yourself known to your child's teacher and to the staff in the school office. Tell them where you work and when and how you can be reached on your job. Can you be called directly? …

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