As made evident by nationwide organizations such as the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and Parents and Teachers Together (PATT), a healthy partnership between parents and teachers of all grades is essential to learning and character development both on and off campus. Local Coronado educators shared their thoughts on how parents can help reinforce what teachers are trying to achieve in the classroom.
Read and repeat
“Read, read, read, read, read to your kids,” said Christ Church teacher Lissy Rooney. This sentiment echoes across all grade levels. “Make sure your kids are reading all the time — it doesn’t matter what,” said Eric Pondrom, a Coronado High School history teacher. In fact, the National Center on Education Statistics reports that reading to your child in elementary school directly correlates with higher academic achievement in middle and high school. In addition to reading with your kids, teachers stress the importance of working with them on their understanding of what they read. “One of the most important things parents can do for their children,” said Village Elementary teacher Ashlee Colleton, “is to ask them questions about what they’re reading to help deepen their comprehension.”
Know when to use the power button
Teachers are conscious of the ever-growing role of technology in their students’ lives, but they also stress the importance of limiting screen time. “Play games and talk to your kids at night instead of watching TV,” said Rooney. Pondrom explained that technology can be distracting and even detrimental to a student’s grades. “If your child is struggling in school, move his or her computer to the living room,” he advised. “That way, you can monitor time spent or wasted online.” Teachers across all grade levels also stress how difficult it is to reach students who are distracted by their personal technology devices in the classroom — so teaching your kids responsible use is important. On the upside, parents can harness technology to stay in tune with how their student is performing academically. The schools in the Coronado Unified School District use an online platform called Haiku to post assignments and grades, as well as contact students. Parents can take a more active role in their child’s education if they log on frequently and become aware when grades start to slip.
Make the real world a classroom
A big part of retaining new information is applying it in the real world. Colleton suggested that parents provide their children with examples of math being applied in daily life, whether in the kitchen or at the cash register. Many students wonder when they will ever use long-division outside of a classroom, but real-life applications of core subjects motivate students to work harder in school and help them to retain skills. In upper grade levels, teachers appreciate when parents discuss college and future career options with their students. The future can be daunting and overwhelming, but parents’ involvement can assuage that stress and show their children the opportunities that exist. For example, Coronado Middle School Performing Arts teacher Linda Kullman wants students to be exposed to adults who make a living working in the entertainment industry. “I encourage parents to take their kids to see a professional show,” she said. “It just might inspire a young person to do the same when they grow up!”
Let the student become the teacher
Coronado Middle School science teacher Karoly Tippets said that parents can help their child’s learning by asking him or her for an explanation of challenging concepts. “One of the best ways for someone to construct a thorough understanding of a topic is to teach someone else; parents can facilitate this process by asking questions,” she said. Steve Patrick, who teaches fifth grade at Village Elementary, agreed that parents should non-confrontationally ask students questions beyond “What did you learn at school today?” Take it a step further by asking your children to teach you what they learned. Libby Patrick, who teaches first graders at Village Elementary School, suggested checking a grade schooler’s homework folder every day after class. Doing so will give you an idea of what was covered so you can ask the right questions and reinforce what was taught that day (and make sure they do their homework!).
Encourage play, rest, and relaxation
Physical well-being is a vital part of intellectual growth. “Parents should encourage lots of sleep and daily exercise, especially if their child is not out playing sports,” said Coronado Middle School physical education teacher Todd Thielman. Coronado High School psychology and statistics teacher Dianne Chrisman also stresses the importance of adequate sleep, saying that most teenagers need at least eight hours every night. “Make sure,” she added, to feed your students nutritious food and provide them with a quiet area to do their homework.” Many teachers express that homework and extracurricular demands can be time consuming and difficult to balance — but nurturing students with ample time for rest and relaxation should be a priority as it is necessary to their success.
Debbie Collins, a guidance counselor at the high school, said, “It is important for teachers and parents to communicate effectively to ensure students are getting the most from their education. Parents need to know what and how their student is learning. Teachers need important information regarding a student’s academic and social development.” Coronado High School Assistant Principal Stephen Abbott suggested that parents maintain an open mind when communicating with their kids’ teachers and checking up on students’ study habits. “Especially as kids get older, it becomes harder to know when to let them have their independence and when to be in control,” he said. “But parents and teachers can work together to find a healthy balance.”