Abbi Stoloff, a fourth-grade teacher at Fox Trail Elementary in Davie, says talking to your kids about school, regardless of their age, shows involvement. “If you can’t be involved during the work week, be involved on the weekends.” Rather than grilling them about their day, spark a casual conversation, she advises. “Listen, guide them and be a presence. Ask questions about what they’re working on at school. Good communication makes the day-to-day easier. That’s involvement.”
Unlike grade school, teachers expect more independence from middle school students. But that doesn’t mean parents should back off, teachers say.
Lori Goldwyn, a math teacher at Tequesta Trace Middle School in Weston, suggests regularly looking over your tween’s agenda and making a routine of checking teachers’ websites. “Bookmark them and communicate with the teacher.” Goldwyn says one of the simple steps working parents can take is to spend 10 minutes on Sunday nights talking about the week — what’s due, what needs to be signed, what tests are coming up.
By high school, some parents back off completely. That’s a mistake, teachers say.
Daniel Muchnick, a U.S. history teacher at Miami Norland High School, says working parents of teens can become stay involved with a few keystrokes on a keyboard. Parents should be aware that many school districts use online grade books, he says. “Grades, attendance, assignments…everything is available online.” Parents can also establish alerts so they can be notified by e-mail or text if their child is absent, if an assignment is missing or if a grade point average drops.
Muchnick recommends checking your teen’s grades at least weekly, and if you see he isn’t doing well, email the teacher. “We welcome communication from parents. When parents are involved, grades are better. There’s definitely a connection.”