How can I work with my child's school to support learning at home?
The research makes it really clear – kids do better at school when their families are involved in their education. There are lots of ways you can communicate and collaborate with school if your child has to spend some time recovering at home because of a health condition.
What does the research say?
Research tells us effective partnerships between families and schools leads to better education results. Positive family involvement with the school can help:
- increase retention rates
- reduce absenteeism
- reduce disruptive behaviours
- improve social skills.
Ask about specific learning support
Schools have access to various support services to help them support students with a health condition. Ask the principal of your child's school how these services work at the school and in your home.
Take an interest in what’s going on
You need to keep up with the school news to stay in the loop. You could do this by:
- asking the school to send you communications such as the school newsletter
- logging onto the school website to see what is happening
- encouraging your child to ask their friends what’s happening at school and what they’re doing in classes.
Talk regularly with your child’s teacher
Things can change from day to day. Try to keep the teachers as up-to-date as possible. This will give them a better idea of what your child needs from the school. It’s also a way to build up connections between your child and the school.
Visit the school regularly
Find out if your child can go to school for short, social visits if they can’t attend regularly. They’ll still feel that they’re part of the school community and it gives them a chance to catch up on news.
Keep attending parent-teacher interviews. You can use the time to update your child’s teacher on their health status. You could also ask the teacher what they are teaching next term and how you can help at home.
Use everyday opportunities to educate
It’s often the little things that count. Encourage your child to use all of their senses to keep learning. Talk about the things they see, hear, touch, taste and feel.
Encourage your child to read, or read with your child
Put a real effort into reading. Read to them if they don’t feel up to it. Ask them:
- what they’re reading
- what their book is about
- why they like it
- what they’ll read next.
Use maths and science during your day
Show your child how maths and science are part of everyday life. For example, when you:
- fix things around the house.
Take advantage of technology
Online resources and other technologies will help your child learn and keep in touch with their friends.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Connect site has links to games, activities and information for projects. It’s divided into sections for:
Look at your child’s school work
You don’t need to do the homework (or even understand it). Monitoring homework helps get it all done and shows your child that you’re interested in what they’re doing.
Show that you value education
Education means more choices in work and in life. Have high, but realistic, expectations of your child and their school.
Family - School Partnerships Framework: A guide for schools and families provides some guiding principles and practical strategies to help families and schools to develop effective partnerships.
Shine@Home – Literacy and Maths tips to help your child has lots of tips for parents about supporting learning at home.
Keeping Connected: Identity, social connection and education for young people living with chronic illness has some interesting comments and contributions from parents.
Parent Update is a free email newsletter from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development helping parents to keep in touch with what is happening in the Victorian education system.
The Family-School & Community Partnerships Bureau has been set up to help Australian schools, families and communities build productive relationships.
The Raising Children Network has a whole range of advice and ideas for parents to try at home.