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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 6, 2006

Involved parents aid education

By Dana Shishido

As a parent, you are the single most important influence in your child's life.

Research has shown that children excel academically, socially and emotionally if their parents are involved in their education and school activities. Getting involved in your child's education sends the message that you are genuinely interested in his or her life, and that going to school is an invaluable experience.

Here are a few simple ways to get involved at your child's school:

Meet the teacher. At the beginning of the school year, set aside time to meet your child's new teacher in person. This will give you a chance to discuss your child's learning habits as well as his or her interests and hobbies. Let the teacher know that you are always available, and when it is best to reach you.

This also is a good time to ask how you can support your child's learning at home. Open lines of communication between teacher and parent ensure you will be informed of your child's progress.

Volunteer in class. Every parent can contribute to classroom learning. You can listen to children read, assist them with their work, help with library duty, playground duty, fundraising events or even on school trips. Spending time in the classroom also allows you to observe your child's learning environment.

As a parent, you are entitled to take a front seat in your child's education. This can help you learn whether your child is an active learner. Is he or she is engaged and asking questions?

Join parent groups. Groups such as the PTA and PTO foster a positive environment where teachers and parents can easily discuss current issues facing their school. Talking to other parents at meetings, school functions or even at the bus stop will give you better insight into issues that may have an effect on your family as well as theirs.

Talk to a school counselor. In middle school, your child most likely will be assigned a counselor. Set up an appointment with the counselor to discuss your child's future. Talk with both the counselor and your child about the courses your student should take to reach his or her goals.

Do they match or exceed the standards set by the school district? Will your child's schedule set him or her up for success in college?

Stay up to date. As a parent, it is your job to stay current with the latest changes to the academic calendar, school policies and the curriculum.

It is also a good idea to call your child's school to see if help is needed for bake sales, car washes or field trips. Schools often need volunteers to help with upcoming events. Show your support for school functions, especially those that involve your child.

This column is provided through the Hawai'i State Teachers Association. Dana Shishido is a teacher at Wheeler Elementary School.