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Being a Good Parent


This is not an article on how to be a good parent in the general sense. I've only been a parent for over a year and I'm sure I still making mistakes. This article is about how to be a good parent when it comes to the education system. It is extremely important that you take initiative and become part of your child's life when it comes to their school education.

As a high school teacher, I have seen my fair share of good and bad parents. I wonder sometimes why people think young people have such problems these days. Is it maybe because their parents have problems as well? The following are suggestions from an experienced teacher.

Call Your Child's Teacher

The first step in being a good parent is to keep an open dialogue with your child's teacher. I know this sounds simple, but it is the best way to make sure that you child is successful in school.

You might think this is too much work, especially if you have more then one child or if your child has multiple teachers. No matter how much work you think it is for you, it is much more work for the teacher to contact you.

On average, elementary school teachers have anywhere between thirty and sixty students. This is assuming that a class has no more than thirty students and that they have no more then two classes. If they teach a specialized subject such as computer studies, or physical education, they might teach the whole school that subject. This could mean up to two hundred or more students.

A high school teacher has many more students. If they teach three classes a day they might have up to ninety students. If there are shorter periods in the day they might have upwards of two hundred students. Either way, that's a lot of students and a lot of parents to contact. What normally happens is that if your child is doing fine or not really struggling, you will not get a phone call. A lot of times phone calls are made to parents when a problem has reached the breaking point. Something could have been done beforehand, but if the parent doesn't put in the effort to make themselves aware of any issues, it's difficult to deal with later on. With the amount of work a teacher has to do during the school year sometimes students fall through the cracks but in my experience a student who has an involved parent does not slip through the cracks.

As a parent, you might have anywhere between one and ten teachers to contact. Obviously, it is easier for you to call and ask if there is a problem than to sit and wait until there is a serious problem.

Contacting your child's teacher shows that you are interested in their education and helps the teacher understand any social or emotional issues that might come up. A teacher can do their job better if you are willing to make the first contact.

Support the School

This is an interesting concept and is similar to the argument of what came first, the chicken or the egg. Do students do well in school because their parents are involved in the school community or do parents become involved in the school community because their children are doing well? That is an argument for another day.

You don't have to be the chairperson of the PTA to support the school. Make sure you know what is going on at school. When do report cards go home? When are parent teacher interviews? These are important things to know. Stay in touch with the school and help out whenever you can. This might mean volunteering in the kindergarten class once a week or it might mean complaining to the board when they decide to cut funding to the arts program.

Be Accountable for your Child

As a high school teacher I only know what happens at an elementary school from what my colleagues tell me. I would love to say that the following issues only happen in a high school, but they don't. Either way though, this is an important step.

If your child makes a mistake, acknowledge that it occurred. It is not a reflection of your parenting skills. If you get a phone call from the principal or vice principal, they are not criticizing you ability to parent your child. They are working together with you to make sure your child doesn't continue to make bad choices.

I have heard horror stories about what happens when administrators call home. One vice principal called home to tell a mother that her son had been involved in a fight. She was in denial and refused to believe that her son had started a physical altercation. She then stated that she was so mad, she would go over and punch the principal in the face.

I have also heard parents defending their children's action when they have been caught on school property with alcohol and drugs. I'm not saying that their child didn't have a legitimate reason to do that, but it is important that the parent supports the decision of the school. Parents need to teach their children the importance of authority. If children see their parents not respecting the authority of the school, there is no way they will respect them either. This could also stretch to the real world, which would have disastrous results.

This is just a short list of ways that you, as a parent, can help your child develop into a well mannered, respectable, mature individual, who will be a great asset to society.

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