Start the school year off strong by building routines, plans and strategies that will last all year long!
As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. When parents and families are involved in their children's schools, the children do better and have better feelings about going to school. In fact, many studies show that a family's actions are far more important to a child's scholarly success than how much money the family makes or how much education the parents have.
There are many ways that parents can support their children's learning at home and throughout the school year. Here are some ideas to get you started!
DEVELOP A PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD'S TEACHERS AND SCHOOL STAFF
1. Meet your child's teacher. As soon as the school year starts, try to find a way to meet your child's teacher. For some, it may be at our Teacher Meet-and-Greet. For others, Discovery Night may be the perfect opportunity to have a moment with your child's teacher. Let the teacher know you want to help your child learn. Make it clear that you want the teacher to contact you if any problems develop with your child.
2. Get to know who's who at your child's school. Every single person at Radcliffe Creek School is there to help your child learn, grow socially and emotionally, and navigate the school environment. Whether it be a classroom teacher, Ms. Margie at the Front Desk, or even Ms. Fitzgerald in the Finance office, every single team member has the same #1 priority: our students.
3. Attend parent-teacher conferences and keep in touch with your child's teacher. Radcliffe Creek usually has one or two parent-teacher conferences per year. You can also ask to meet with your child's teacher any time during the year. If you have a concern and can't meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note or set up a time to talk on the phone. Each teacher's contact information can be found in their respective bio! And, don't forget about your student's Communication Book! This is the perfect conduit for quick, easy and consistent communication.
SUPPORT YOUR CHILD ACADEMICALLY
4. Find out how your child is doing. Ask the teacher how well your child is doing in class compared to other students. At Radcliffe Creek, our schedules are designed for your student to be in classes with peers of similar academic skill sets. With tools like ALS and AIMSweb, teachers are able to provide reports which offer analyses not only to how your child compares to students in their class, but their given grade level and the national average for a student their age. For daily notes on your student's progress, be sure to read their Communication Book!
5. Make sure that your child gets homework done. Let your child know that you think education is important and that homework needs to be done each day. You can help your child with homework by setting aside a special place to study, establishing a regular time for homework, and removing distractions such as the television and social phone calls during homework time.
If you are reluctant to help your child with homework because you feel that you don't know the subject well enough, you can help by showing that you are interested, helping your child get organized, providing the necessary materials, asking your child about daily assignments, monitoring work to make sure that it is completed, and praising all of your child's efforts. Remember that doing your child's homework for them won't help them in the long run.
6. Find homework help for your child, if needed. If it is difficult for you to help your child with homework or school projects, see if you can find someone else who can help. Radcliffe Creek, for example, offers a Homework Club as part of our Radcliffe Reach Aftercare program! If you need a program closer to your home, maybe contact tutoring groups, other after school programs, churches, and libraries. Or, see if an older student, neighbor, or friend can help! There are plenty of resources and friendly faces that will want to help your Radcliffe Superstar. Rest assured, however, no new material is ever sent home as homework. If a sheet is in your student's homework folder, they would have completed similar work that day in class. At RCS, homework is meant to reinforce lessons and principles learned in the classroom.
7. Help your child prepare for tests. In traditional school environments, tests play an important role in determining a student's grade. At Radcliffe Creek, however, tests play a slightly different role in your student's academic plan. Tests are not meant to gauge a student's likelihood of success, but rather the effectiveness of their academic program. With individualized, differentiated instruction, we craft plans and programming around each student. The effectiveness of these programs and plans are gauged by periodic assessments. This is a critical point to understand. By normalizing the use of these assessments, we try our best to alleviate any kind of test-taking anxiety. As a parent, however, it is fundamental to this success for you to communicate when your student feels pressured or anxious about tests.
GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR CHILD'S SCHOOL
8. Learn what the school offers. Read the information the school sends home! Talk to other parents, like your child's respective Homeroom Parent, to find out what hidden gems/programs the school offers. Explore extracurricular programs such as Radcliffe Creek's after school care, sports teams like Basketball and Soccer, our tutoring program, or fun clubs that your child would enjoy. Remember to keep track of events throughout the school year.
9. Volunteer at your child's school and/or join the school's parent-teacher group! Teachers appreciate it when parents help out at the school! There are many ways you can contribute. You can volunteer at special events, in your child's homeroom class, or even in the school library. If you work during the day, you can attend "parents' night" activities or your child's performances. At most schools, a group of parents (commonly referred to as a PTA) meets regularly to talk about the school. At Radcliffe Creek, this group is known as the Parent-Teacher Committee (PTC). You can learn more about the PTC on their dedicated webpage! PTC meetings also provide a stellar opportunity to talk with other parents and members of the school's administrative staff.
GET INFORMED AND ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILD
10. Ask questions. If something concerns you about your child's learning or behavior, ask the teacher or Head of School about it and seek their advice. Your questions may be like these — What specific problem is my child having with reading? What can I do to help my child with this problem? How can I stop that bully from picking on my son? How can I get my child to do homework? Which reading group is my child in? Your fellow peers can also offer tremendous insight. Post a question on the Radcliffe Creek Forum! With a community as compassionate, insightful and robust as ours, you may be surprised how many words of comfort and wisdom come your way.
11. Learn about your rights. If Radcliffe Creek is not an option for your family, it's important to know what your rights are as a parent regarding special services in the public school system. With IEPs and 504s, it is easy to grow confused, disheartened and disenfranchised with the system. At Radcliffe Creek, we are always happy and eager to help any family that seeks our guidance -- whether they enroll in our school or not. Our mission is dedicated to fostering and facilitating prosperous futures for students. Period.
12. Let the school know your concerns! Is your child doing well in school? Is he or she having trouble learning, behaving, or studying? Is there a problem with another student, teacher, or administrator? We not only welcome your feedback and insight, we encourage it. You are the expert on your child. Radcliffe Creek's administrative team is always eager and willing to meet with you.
SUPPORT YOUR CHILD'S LEARNING AT HOME
13. Demonstrate a positive attitude about education to your children. What we say and do in our daily lives can help them to develop positive attitudes toward school, learning, and building confidence in themselves as learners. Showing our children that we both value education and use it in our daily lives provides them with powerful models and contributes greatly to their success in school.
In addition, by showing interest in your child's education, you can spark enthusiasm in your Radcliffe Creek Superstar and lead them to a very important understanding: learning can be enjoyable as well as rewarding (even when it's difficult).
14. Monitor your child's television, video game, and internet use. When compared to other areas of the world, American children on average spend far more time watching TV, playing video games and using the internet than they do completing homework or other school-related activities. While some of these programs and activities can offer real-world insight and lessons, more often than not, the content is not nearly as wholesome. For context, the Pew Research Center reported in 2008 that 97% of youths ages 12 to 17 played some type of video game, and that two-thirds of them played action and adventure games that tend to contain violent content.
15. Encourage your child to read. Helping your child become a reader is the single most important thing that you can do to help the child succeed in school and in life. The importance of reading simply can't be overstated. Reading helps children in all school subjects. More importantly, it is a fundamental key to lifelong learning.
16. Talk with your child. Talking and listening play major roles in a child's scholarly success. It's through hearing parents and family members talk and through responding to that talk that young children begin to pick up the language skills they will need throughout life. For example, children who don't hear a lot of talking (and who aren't encouraged to talk themselves) often have difficulties learning to read. In addition, children who haven't learned to listen carefully often have trouble following directions and paying attention in class. It's also important for you to show your child that you're interested in what he or she has to say.
17. Encourage your child to use the library. Libraries are places of learning and discovery for everyone. Helping your child find out about libraries will set them on the road to being an independent learner. Remember that libraries also offer a quiet place for students to complete homework, and are often open in the evening. Radcliffe Creek's library is also an excellent resource for study tips, new books, and conducting research.
18. Encourage your child to be responsible and work independently. Taking responsibility and working independently are important qualities for school success. You can help your child to develop these qualities by establishing reasonable rules that you enforce consistently, making it clear to your child that they have to take responsibility for what they do, both at home and at school, showing your child how to break a job down into small steps, and monitor what your child does after school, in the evenings and on weekends. If you can't be there when your child gets home, give them the responsibility of checking in with you by phone to discuss their plans.
19. Encourage active learning. Children need active learning as well as quiet learning such as reading and doing homework. Active learning involves asking and answering questions, solving problems and exploring interests. Active learning can also take place when your child plays sports, spends time with friends, acts in a school play, plays a musical instrument or visits museums and bookstores. To promote active learning, listen to your child's ideas and respond to them. Let them jump in with questions and opinions when you read books together. When you encourage this type of give-and-take at home, your child's participation and interest in school is likely to increase.