Dr. Renee Clauselle, a practicing child psychologist with a private practice in Franklin Square, New York, and Director of School Mental Health Services at St. John’s University, says parents should prepare their children before going to school so they can start the day off right. She also says that parents should get involved in their children’s academic and social well-being, not only at home, but in school.
To make sure their child is prepared for the next school day, parents should check their child’s backpack when they get home from school and sign any necessary paperwork. “You want to start the school year right and stay on top of you child’s paper flow from school,” Dr, Clauselle said.
Parents should also learn about their child’s learning style and see if their child learns best by seeing, hearing or experiencing the lesson. “While most good teachers try to teach lessons in several different modalities, there is only so much time in the day,” Dr. Clauselle said. “So one way is to assist your child is to make sure that you are supplementing the lesson at home in your child’s primary learning style.”
When asking about their child’s day, Dr. Clauselle says, parents should target these three areas: recess, lunch, and the school bus. “These are the places where behavior issues and social issues occur,” she said. “By routinely talking about social issues when there are no problems, it makes it easier to discuss and guide your child if and when problems occur.”
Parents should also speak with the teacher not just about their child’s academic goals and issues, but their child’s social issues. “This will give you information to jumpstart conversations with your child, rather than the usual ‘How was school?’” she said. Some of the questions parents can ask their children when they get home from school include the following:
• What happened in music today?
• Did Johnny do anything silly today?
• Who made you laugh today?
• Who did you play with on the playground?
• What did you play?
For the first parent-teacher conference, parents should look around the classroom and view their child’s work, if it is hung around the classroom. “Look at your child’s areas of strengths and areas that need improvement,” Dr. Clauselle said. “Be creative. Think of ways you can support, supplement or strengthen your child’s academic performance at home.”
Parents should also reach out to their child’s teacher and see if they can volunteer in any capacity. If they are unable to volunteer during the day, parents can get involved at events held during school nights, such as bake sales, fundraisers and school dances. “When you volunteer, you get to see your child in action,” Dr. Clauselle said. “It gives you a better understanding of what you may need to support, supplement or correct at home.”