87% of U.S. parents attend public school or PTA meetings, according to a 2016 study by the American Institutes for Research. This is great news—but it’s not the whole picture of parental involvement.
While kids spend about 6.5 hours per day in the classroom and around 9 hours in dreamland, there’s still around 8.5 hours to eat, read, play, learn, and make-believe. And for several of those hours, they’re with you.
Parents play a powerful role a child’s growth. Research shows that a parent’s involvement in their child’s education results in higher grades and better-behaved kids.
What does “involvement” look like? Here are some simple things you can do at home to boost your child’s success in the classroom.
1. Read together.
We all know this one, but a 2014 survey by Scholastic showed that only 46% of kids ages 6-17 felt that reading books for fun was important. If you think your child is getting enough reading time at school, think again—only 17% surveyed indicated they did this nearly every day.
The solution? Read to your child if he doesn’t know how. When he does read on his own, read your own book next to him, or invite him to read to you. Although it’s tempting to guide your child toward “enriching” or “classic” books, we recommend you let your child pick his own book. Yes, there’s a distinct possibility he’ll choose the farting dog book, but the study also showed 91% of children ages 6-17 claimed their favorite books were ones they chose. (Worth it.)
2. Communicate with your child’s teacher.
In addition to showing up for parent-teacher conferences—which about 75% of us do—you can reach out to your child’s teacher for information and updates.
A couple guidelines here before we all go crazy emailing teachers: find out how your child’s teacher prefers to communicate (don’t just try to add him on Facebook), and try to keep all communication polite, brief and reasonable (e.g., not “just change my child’s grade” every week). This is mainly a way to show your child’s teacher that you’re available and willing to listen to his concerns whenever something comes up.
3. Ensure your child gets plenty of free play.
We’ve touched on the importance of free playtime for your child’s growth before, but you don’t have to get down on your hands and knees to make mud pies with your child if you don’t want to.
Invite friends or family over for playdates, or just let your elementary child play with siblings or on his own! That’s why it’s called free play—there’s no agenda for learning, yet somehow, studies have shown that free playtime can actually boost your child’s skills in math and reading. Bonus: you get a breather while he’s occupied.
4. Put away your phone.
A Stanford study showed the value of talking directly to toddlers and the huge difference it makes in their later vocabulary. There are even programs dedicated to teaching parents how to communicate more frequently with their kids. Yes, parents deserve to relax and decompress while scrolling through Facebook—but your early conversations with your child help to build his literacy and communication skills for the classroom and beyond.
To that point: it’s difficult to carry a good conversation with your child while you’re scrolling through Instagram. Just watch this video, where children (with adorable accents, we might add) detail how parents use of devices affect them.
Looking for more ways to boost your child’s education the fun way? Trust us, it’s possible! Follow ECR4Kids on Facebook for new ideas every day.