Parental involvement with your child’s school is more than just attending PIBG (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru, or Parent-Teacher Association) meetings.
Parents who are actively engaged with their child’s school and schoolwork can make a crucial difference to their child’s success academically, socially and in life.
Best of all, you will also feel a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction in making a difference in their education by using a hands-on approach.
Little things such as getting them ready for school or attending school events show them that you value their education.
Being involved helps improve their school attendance, have a positive attitude about school, make more friends, learn lessons better, have adaptive behaviour, and form a stronger relationship with you.
How to get involved?
Here are some simple steps that can help create a positive learning environment in your home:
• Be curious about their interests and ideas about the world around them.
• Set goals with them based on their abilities and work together to achieve them. They can be both short- and long-term goals.
• Spend quality one-on-one time with them to talk about their day at school, and who their friends and teachers are, even if it’s just five to 10 minutes, but be sure to give them 100% of your attention.
• Revise their lessons together by asking them to teach you – this helps solidify their own understanding.
With new changes to the syllabus compared to our school days, who knows if you might actually learn something yourself!
• Fix a time for homework assignments and discuss those assignments with them to see if they need help.
Ensure they are rewarded in some way for carrying out their work at the specified times.
• Take note of their weaknesses for discussion with their class teacher at the appropriate time.
• Inform their class teacher if there are any issues (e.g. health conditions, loss of a loved one) that may affect their school performance.
Be more active at school
Some schools offer opportunities for parents to be more actively involved. This includes turning up to support your child at school performances, sports day, canteen day, etc.
Some schools encourage parents to volunteer for certain tasks, e.g. recycling day, canteen day, sports day, etc.
Do check with the teachers to see how you can contribute your time.
One more important aspect that should not be neglected is the parent-teacher relationship.
Focus on building a positive relationship with your child’s teacher.
The relationship with their teacher is very important, so strive for a problem-solving partnership, even if you disagree with the teacher’s methods.
When meeting their teacher, do so with the intention to collaborate to help your child.
It is important to be consistent with the teacher at school in managing your child’s learning and behaviour.
Getting confrontational and scolding/lecturing the teacher would only sour the relationship and may make things awkward for your child, especially if it was done in their presence.
Don’t become over-involved
Remember, you are your child’s most important partner in their education, so give them all the support they need, but not to the extent of doing everything for them.
The goal is to encourage them to be more independent and learn how to do things on their own, not to have them depend on you for everything, so let them pack their own school bag, do their homework or assignments (e.g. art or projects) on their own, etc.
Doing their homework or assignments for them may help in the short term with their grades, but in the long term, it will impede their resilience, independent learning skills and experience.
Instead, they are likely to become dependent and helpless with low self-efficacy when they reach late adolescence.
Avoid helicopter parenting and give them the space they need in order to flourish and grow.
With the right encouragement, they will be able to go far as an adult.
Make the extra effort to be involved now to reap the rewards in the long term.
You are also a model for independence.
So rather than do things for them, show them how it’s done and let them go through the trials and errors so that learning becomes more personalised to your child.