A Love of Learning


Developing engaged students starts at home. Teachers and school administrators share this responsibility. But when parents take a one-good-day-at-a-time approach, raising a child who loves school can be easier than you might imagine.

Many parents have experienced their own anxiety, fears or first-day jitters about their child’s school. But just keep your interactions with the school constructive and upbeat, follow these guidelines and watch the magic happen as your child’s love of learning grows.

Share to prepare

Tell your child what you enjoyed about school. If your spouse enjoyed school, encourage him to share his stories too. If either of you had difficulty, have that conversation with another adult, and talk about how your struggles might color your expectations of what school might be like for your child.

It’s a good idea to get school fears or biases off your chest. Let them go rather than unwittingly passing them on. Clear your mental decks for positive school experiences for you and your child.

Step back and trust

A teacher won’t treat your child like you would. She will probably expect more and will challenge your child to realize her potential. Best advice: let her do her job.

Smart parents know that school is not just about academics. While in school, your child is learning to be a member of a community and to socialize. She is learning how to express herself through art, music and physical activity. The folks who run schools are trained professionals. Through them, your child can experience every day as an adventure in learning and growth.

Be positive and proactive

Try to find something to like about her school on a regular basis. Attend open-house days and meet the front office staff and principal. Make sure the teacher knows you are on her team. In the case of miscommunication or misunderstanding, strive to work things out in a calm, proactive manner.

Don’t hang on to negative perceptions or seek a negative consensus with other parents. Seek solutions, not squabbles. Put yourself in the teacher or administrator’s shoes before you pick up the phone or fire off an email.

Get involved

Some parent volunteers willingly pitch in and help. Others don’t really want to spend time at school but do it for their kids anyway. Be honest about the kind of volunteer you are, so you can find ways to be a cheerful contributor.

If you like to help, join the PTA or sign up to be a room parent. Every school has plenty of opportunities. Benefits come when you happily contribute, not when you use an insider position to address grievances. Your role is to help. Do your best not to criticize less committed parent volunteers.

Divide the school year into three seasons and try to pitch in and help or chaperone at least once per season. Get your spouse involved. Don’t feel guilty about not being a PTA volunteer, as there are plenty of other ways to contribute.

No matter how you do it, when you give to the school, you’ll set a great example for your kids. Parents who invest time and energy cheerfully and proactively in their child’s school stand out for all the right reasons and pave the way for their children’s success.

Christina Katz is a freelance writer.


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