Parent-school partnership, part 1: 
what families can expect from schools
         Your presence at school and in school activities says a lot to your child.
The two most important messages it conveys are (1) that school is important and
(2) that you care about your childís success in school. 

         In the fall and the spring most schools schedule parent-teacher
conferences. There are frequently book fairs, writing fairs, math fairs, science
fairs, and other performances scheduled during the same time, to get parents to
come to the school to see what their talented children are learning.

         The teachers, administrators, and children put a lot of work into preparing
for your arrival. You owe it to your child, yourself, and the school to be present at
as many of the scheduled events as possible. Since most of these are planned
far in advance, make yourself aware of the school calendar and plan to attend.
This is particularly important if your participation means having to take time off

         Public education is most effective when families and schools forge a
partnership and are synchronous in the process of teaching children. Each
partner has responsibilities specific to its role in the childís life.

         These are some responsibilities that schools have toward families. Look for
these when you are searching for a school to which to send your child. The
teachers and administrators should:

         1. Treat all members of every family with the dignity and respect that they
deserve. Each of us has feelings and is trying to do our best. They should be
especially welcoming in the event that younger siblings have come along to the

         2. Treat family members as equal partners in the education of the children
involved. If parents need help, the school should be prepared to give it to them.

         3. Keep families informed about school personnel, meetings, activities,
rules and expectations, classroom activities, and curriculum innovations. 

         4. Speak in a simple manner about curriculum and expectations without
the use of jargon. They should be clear. Parents are not professional educators.
Many times, the curriculum is different than it was when they attended school.
Teachers and administrators should be prepared to explain it in a way so that
parents are comfortable in getting the skills they will need to be successful.

         This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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