Parents have incredible power when it comes to the education of their children. Not only do parents serve as their children’s first teachers, but they also have numerous opportunities to nurture learning once their students enter school. While it might seem that students spend most of their waking hours in the classroom, the numbers tell a different story. Students are in school approximately 180 days a year for six hours a day. That adds up to 1,080 hours of dedicated instruction time from teachers. Add in 8 hours of sleeping per day, which accounts for another 2,920 hours per year, and this means children spend 4,760 waking hours with their families each year. That’s over 4x more time at home than in the classroom! Used well, this time is an unbelievable resource for parents to support student achievement.
How can Parents Leverage Time?
Teachers want your help, but sometimes lack the time or access to best involve parents in student learning. The first step in supporting your child’s education is to understand how and what your child is learning during their limited time in the classroom. Aligning your time at home with your child’s time in the classroom starts with asking the right questions.
- First, what is your student learning? Get to know the grade level standards for ELA/Literacy and Math, as these subjects are the cornerstone for all other learning. Inquire about the curriculum used for these subjects so you can support your child as he or she brings work home. Ask for resources from your child’s teacher and school to extend learning at home. This engagement can help students understand the connection between home and school and recognize their role as learners in both settings.
- Second, how is your student learning? Ask about the kind of instruction your child receives. Do students participate in small group instruction? How are students being assessed, and how often? What effect size do the strategies teachers employ typically have on student learning? You will become proficient in terms used by teachers and students in the classroom as you have these conversations, and can then extend these conversations at home.
- Third, ask to be actively involved in and out of the classroom. Ask for ideas to broaden your child’s horizons at home. There are many educational resources available, and teachers are usually glad to make recommendations that will align with their classroom plans. Additionally, offer to provide support to the school by volunteering in the classroom or preparing materials at home. Most teachers have a list of things they wish they could incorporate into their lessons if they just had the time—the more parents volunteer to help, the more of these activities the children will get to do.
The work of educating a child well takes persistence, knowledge, and above all else, time. When parents are informed and engaged, efforts at home and school become aligned and complimentary. Ultimately, when parents are actively engaged in student learning, students thrive!
Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT):
Center for Public Education:
Parent Teacher Association:
Utah Core Standards:
 School, Family, Parent, Teacher Engagement in Education — WestEd. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.wested.org/service/academic-parent-teacher-teams-aptt-family-engagement-in-education/