As a parent, what is my role, and what can I do to best support my child’s education?
Page 4: How Do I Find Out What My Child Should Be Learning?
Now that they have a bit of experience with managing instruction during a pandemic, schools and teachers are better equipped to provide guidance and resources to support learning in multiple ways, including:
- Virtual — learning happens outside of school. The types of support for this mode of learning will vary from district to district.
- Face-to-face — learning happens in classrooms, inside school buildings.
- Blended or hybrid — a combination of virtual and face-to-face. For example, a school might have roughly half its students attend face-to-face on Mondays and Tuesdays while the other half attends virtually. The school might have all students learn virtually on Wednesdays while a deep cleaning takes place in the building. Then the students “swap places” on Thursdays and Fridays.
As a parent, part of your role is to keep up with what your child should be learning so that you can support him or her. To do this, you can:
- Stay in contact with your child’s teacher or school
- Support learning opportunities provided by the school
- Create learning opportunities for your child
Read on to learn more about each of these.
Stay in Contact with Your Child’s Teacher or School
Schools and districts are providing guidance for at-home learning in different ways, but quite often this guidance has changed over time and may continue changing. To keep up with what your school or district is doing, you can:
- Check your regular mail and email, the school’s website or social media page, and phone messages from the district, school, or teacher.
- Be sure the teacher has your email address and phone number so that he or she can reach you.
High School Seniors
If you are the parent of a high school senior, pay close attention to any information that comes from the school district and your state’s department of education. As the school year progresses and conditions are likely to keep changing, make sure you and your senior know the latest updates on:
- Attendance requirements
- The number of credits required for graduation
- What schools are doing to help students meet credit requirements
- How dual enrollment courses are being handled
- Changes to testing requirements
Support Learning Opportunities Provided by the School
No matter how instruction is being delivered at your child’s school, your role is to support that instruction. To do this, you can:
Encourage your child. Under normal circumstances, you may have had to encourage and remind your child to do homework. You might need to do this more often now if he is learning at home.
Be there to help. Talk to your child, answer questions, and offer guidance when its needed.
Ask questions. Contact the teacher with questions about the assignment or to ask for help. For tips on how to do this, see Conversation Starters for Discussing Teaching Approaches with Teachers.
Help your child stay on track. You can remove distractions and use schedules and timers to help your child complete and turn in work on time. For more on how to remove distractions, see Page 2. For more on how to create a schedule, visit Page 3.
Find or Create Learning Opportunities for Your Child
If you think your child would benefit from supplemental learning opportunities, in addition to her school assignments, that’s great! Make sure these are meaningful—not just busy work. They should also be appropriate for your child’s age. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Pick one or two subjects. Remember, you don’t have to cover every subject! Start with one (maybe reading or math or a subject your child is interested in) and then add another when you’re ready.
Find resources. It is good to offer your child a mix of learning activities—online activities as well as other activities.
Find out what the activity requires. You can do a few simple things to make sure that your child enjoys an activity and is successful. When you choose an activity, make sure your child:
- Is able to read the instructions and the material
- Understands what he or she is being asked to do
- Has all needed supplies
- Has the needed tech skills
- Can stay focused long enough to complete the activity. If not, consider breaking it up.
Be sure your child can do the activity. Sit with your child for a few minutes when he starts an activity. By doing this, you can find out what types of supports your child might need. This can be especially useful for young children, struggling learners, and students with disabilities.
Keep in Mind
Supporting your child’s learning doesn’t mean that you have to take on the role of the teacher. You don’t have to recreate the school day. And you don’t have to teach an entire lesson.
For Your Information
When you select a learning activity, tie it to something your child is interested in. For example, if your child likes sports, she might read a book about a sports figure. For math, she might graph the athlete’s stats.
Listen to your child. If your child gets frustrated, consider changing or replacing the activity. The activity might not be age-appropriate, or your child might not have the skills to complete the task. This is particularly important if you have a child with a disability. For more information on supporting a child with a disability, see Page 8.
Embed learning opportunities into everyday activities. Not all learning has to be scheduled. You can create opportunities during everyday activities. Examples include reading recipes or the instructions for a board game, cooking with family members, counting money, telling time, or spotting items of different colors or naming trees when taking a walk.