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11 Questions You Absolutely Must Ask Your Child’s School

posted: 07/30/15
by: Mara Betsch
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Every parent wants their child to have the best possible education, and most will go to great lengths to ensure their child attends the right school, takes the right classes and has the right teachers. But even with the best education, parent involvement plays an enormous role in your child's educational success. Studies show that having engaged parents better predicts how well kids will do in school than the actual quality of their education.

So what should you be doing? Checking homework, attending school events, and letting kids know school is important for starters. But in addition to that, the U.S. Department of Education recently released a checklist (read the full version) including questions to ask your children's school as well as things you can do to support them throughout their academic career. As schools reopen in the next month, be sure you know the answers to these critical questions:

Quality: Is my child getting a great education?

  • How will you keep me informed about how my child is doing on a regular basis? How can we work together if my child falls behind?
  • Is my child on grade level, and on track to be ready for college and a career? How do I know?

Ready for Success: Will my child be prepared to succeed in whatever comes next?

  • How will you measure my child's progress and ability in subjects including reading, math, science, the arts, social and emotional development, and other activities?
  • How much time will my child spend preparing for and taking state and district tests? How will my child's teacher and I know how to use the results to help my child make progress?

Safe and Healthy: Is my child safe and cared for at school?

  • What programs are in place to ensure that the school is a safe, nurturing and positive environment? What are the discipline and bullying policies at the school?
  • Are the meals and snacks provided healthy? How much time is there for recess and/or exercise?

Great Teachers: Is my child engaged and learning every day?

  • How do I know my child's teachers are effective?
  • How much time do teachers get to collaborate with one another?
  • What kind of professional development is available to teachers here?

Equity and Fairness: Does my child, and every child at my child's school or program, have the opportunity to succeed and be treated fairly?

  • How does the school make sure that all students are treated fairly? (For example, are there any differences in suspension/expulsion rates by race or gender?)
  • Does the school offer all students access to the classes they need to prepare them for success, including English language learners and students with special needs (for example, Algebra I and II, gifted and talented classes, science labs, AP or IB classes, art, music)?

And a few ways to support your child.

  • Set high expectations for your child.
  • Make sure your child is in school every day and on time. Attendance matters.
  • Work collaboratively with your child's teachers and talk to them about goals and expectations for your child.
  • Talk to your child each day about what he or she is doing in school and discuss what he or she learned.
  • Encourage your child to complete assignments, and see that she or he finishes them.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Participate in family engagement and volunteer opportunities.