This piece was originally featured in Mediaplanet.
Over 40 years of research shows that regardless of a family’s income or socioeconomic background, students whose families are engaged attend school more regularly earn better grades, enroll in higher-level programs and have higher graduation rates.
Here are four ways you can help your child reach their full potential:
1. Talk about school matters at home
Encourage your child to talk about their day and express any concerns. It will help you understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what activities they like and don’t like. Two-way communication is essential to developing an active and positive relationship and an open, ongoing dialogue is critical to keep your child safe, happy and learning.
2. Be a partner in your child’s learning
Every child’s education experience is unique, and ensuring it remains a positive one is a shared responsibility between families and educators. It is important to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher, keep the lines of communication open and work together to support your child.
3. Advocate for your child
You are your child’s best advocate. It is important to speak up for your own child — and every child in your school community — to ensure they are treated fairly and have access to opportunities that will enable them to reach their full potential. Use your voice to advocate with local school boards and state and federal government to ensure your child’s school has the resources to provide a world-class education to every student.
4. Join up with your PTA
Get involved with your local parent teacher association. Families are busier than ever and as an on-the-go parent, you will find support from others in PTA who share your questions, concerns, hopes and dreams for their children. You will also be part of a dedicated network of families, educators, businesses and community leaders who are working to ensure all children — including yours — receive a high-quality education.
The work your family does at home to support and reinforce what your kids are doing in school will have a significant academic impact. Don’t strive for perfection — remember that involvement looks different for every family — and any level of involvement in your child’s education will help ensure they have every opportunity for success.
Laura Bay is president of National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA), a nonprofit association dedicated to promoting children’s health, well-being and educational success through family and community involvement.