You know your child better than anyone else. You are not only your child’s first teacher, you are your child’s permanent and most important teacher. Educators are important, but temporary partners in the process.
Your child’s kindergarten teacher needs your help to best support your child’s learning. When families and teachers build respectful trusting relationships, they can become full and equal partners in supporting the learning and development of children.
Research shows that when families are partners in their children’s education, children do better in school – from preschool all the way through high school. They:
- are healthier
- have better attendance
- are more successful in the classroom
- get along better with other children
- have fewer behavior problems
- move more smoothly and successfully from home or preschool to kindergarten, then to first grade, middle school, and high school
- get better grades
- are less often held back
- are more likely to graduate from high school
- more often go on to college
Your role in your child’s education is important to your child’s success. You have exactly what teachers need to do their best job teaching. You know your child, your family, your neighborhood, your culture, and your faith – things your child’s teacher needs to know about. Add your knowledge to your teacher’s knowledge, and the best setting for your child’s learning will result.
There will be many opportunities for you to:
- help and encourage your child
- partner with your child’s teacher and school to support learning at home and in the community
- keep an eye on your child’s habits and learning at home
- bring your talents to the classroom
- volunteer in the classroom and at school activities
- make decisions about your child’s education
- be a leader at your child’s school and in your community
- be a model of life-long learning for your child
- work for the best instruction and supports for your child
You may not choose to take on every role in the list above – just find what works best for you and your family. Given your time and resources, ask your teacher how you can help your child do well.
When families and teachers interact regularly in the way that works best for families, they can support children’s learning. Let your teacher know how you want to communicate – face-to-face, in writing, phoning, emailing, texting, or any combination of these methods. Back and forth communication honors the knowledge families and teachers each have.
Teachers would love to see you often, but demands on their time and your own schedules, obligations, and preferences make that hard sometimes. Talk with your child’s teacher to find the best ways for you to communicate and learn from each other so that you can support your child’s learning together.
But wait until the dust settles to ask the teacher your specific questions. The first day of school is not the best time for personal requests, sharing information, or asking questions. Remember, your child is one of 20-25 children the teacher is getting to know. Trust in your teacher as a professional who will make your child feel welcome and like he/she belongs. Your role is important, but be patient with yourself and with your child’s teacher in getting your questions answered and your concerns addressed.