5 Ways to Get Involved in Your Child’s Learning
by John Bunyi
The people we consider “family” play a huge role in our lives, and how we have come to be in the world. If we play the role of “family” in someone else’s life, we can influence their decisions whether we mean to or not. In this ongoing piece, we take several perspectives on the importance of appropriate involvement in the lives of those we care about.
As a parent, being a part of your child’s education is important. It’s something we covered briefly in a past article, and something we’ll continue to cover for a while. Here’s a short list that we at BrightBrain came up with of ways how you can stay involved in your child’s learning:
1. Sit in on Tutoring Sessions
You certainly don’t have to sit in on the whole tutoring session, and you don’t have to sit in on every single session. But every now and then, ask to sit in, especially if you have time. This is probably less important for students that should be more independent, such as upperclassmen in high school, but it’s still something that you should try to do. It helps the student feel comfortable knowing that there’s someone there who they’re very familiar with. Also, it’s helpful for the tutor to know that there’s someone present and available who knows the student’s history. Finally, it helps you, the parent, by giving you some new strategies to approach education and learning with your child.
Part two of this pro-tip: be active. Don’t just sit idly and watch: ask some questions, make some jokes, work with the tutoring team. Of course, tutors and students aren’t always comfortable with having the parents hovering around, so you should probably double-check beforehand and let them know you’ll be checking in. But 15 minutes here and there of learning how to work with your child never hurt anyone, so don’t be afraid to hop on in there.
2. Talk to the Educators
Teachers, tutors, TAs. Talk to everyone you can and gain some insight on how your child learns, and what they need to work on. We all learn differently, and we all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. And chances are, as a parent, you’ll see your child more hours in the day. So finding out what your child needs help on and finding out how they learn best, gives you the opportunity to maximize their exposure to whatever it is they need to learn.
3. Ask to See their Assignments
There’s no need to ask every single day and breathe down their neck. But once in a while, check in, especially if you never see your child working at home. Sometimes, they just need a small prompt like asking to see their homework to know that it’s important, and that someone other than them actually cares if they do well.
4. Stay positive
This is possibly the most important tip on this list. The worst thing we can do is discourage a student by getting on their case too much too often. If they get a grade that you consider “bad,” it’s best to let the student know that while it’s a bad grade, it’s not the end of the world. Use phrases like, “That wasn’t the best grade you’ve gotten. But, I know you can do better this next time.” Or, “Looks like you hit a bump in the road. No worries, we can sit down and figure this out together.” It’s reassuring for anyone to know they’re not alone in a tough situation, and most likely, your child is already feeling stressed just coming up to you with some bad news. Plus, be sure to offer solutions to the problem. Don’t just point out the bad situation; they already know it. This is the easiest way to bum out your child and completely close them off to at least make an attempt to do well in school. As a part of staying positive, keep your expectations reasonable. A “B” on a report card isn’t the worst grade. And, if there is any improvement, whether it’s from a “D” to a “C”, or an “A-” to an “A”, make sure you let your child know that it’s recognized and appreciated!
5. Be open to suggestions (from everyone)
Try to hear the educators out. Find out what they have to say about things you can do at home to help your child with his/her learning. I’ve seen plenty of parents close off any outside ideas, and this can make things difficult for educators. Most importantly though, don’t forget to listen to your child. Chances are, they have some input of their own when it comes to any struggles they’re having.
Given our experience as educators, we know there are many other ways you can stay involved with your child’s education. These are just a few of the most effective ideas we have. So, how do you make sure that you’re staying a part of your child’s education?