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"LEADER" Online: Vol. 6, No. 1

School Success Takes Teamwork
…says Successful Parenting’s Barbara-Lynn Taylor

by Virginia Murray

Now that the hustle and bustle of the first weeks is past, it’s time to get serious about schoolwork. Parents have some work to do as well—they need to join forces with teachers to help their children do their best. The problem is that many parents don’t know how to get involved.

Barbara-Lynn Taylor, M.Ed., is the author and narrator of two videos that can help. “School Success Takes Teamwork” and “Taming the Homework Monster”—videos that come with Facilitator’s Guides—show ways to break down barriers between teachers and parents, help with homework, and lay the groundwork for academic success.

“For the first video, I chose the title ‘School Success Takes Teamwork’ because that really summarizes how it should be approached,” recalls Taylor. “When parents and teachers work together as a team, they are doing what’s best for the child.” The video and Facilitator’s Guides offer ways parents can work to support the team, no matter what their background or education.

First step: defining “success”
Taylor suggests that before viewing the video, parents think about a very important question: What is success? How do their children define success? The answers can be surprising.

“Different people have different definitions of success. Some parents might think it’s straight A’s, while others think simply passing is success. A student might think success is being a good athlete or being liked by other students.” It’s important, notes Taylor, for parents, teachers, and students to define their expectations and be on the same wavelength so they can work toward a common goal.

Supporting students throughout their school career
“School Success Takes Teamwork” offers ways parents can support their students outside of school. The suggestions are age-appropriate, aimed at parents with children in preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school. This makes the program helpful even to parents with children at different levels of learning.

In elementary school, for example, parents should reinforce math skills by demonstrating real-life uses for math. “When shopping, parents can let their children add up the total and count the money.” This is also a great time to take field trips: “It can be far away or it can be somewhere near the house—as long as it’s for the purpose of learning.” Afterwards children should share what they learned by writing it down or telling it to someone.

High school is when parents need to become more serious about their listening skills. “It’s so easy to start preaching, and they are just not going to listen.” Many teens are capable of solving problems on their own, says Taylor, but they need their parents to be a sounding board while they work out a solution. And that is an important step toward independence—a goal shared by every member of school-success team.

Click here for more information about the Successful Parenting video series.

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Preparing for the Parent-Teacher Conference
“Getting ready for a parent-teacher conference is not just putting on your coat and getting the car keys,” jokes Barbara-Lynn Taylor. “Parents will feel less intimidated, even empowered, if they complete these steps before meeting with the teacher.”

  • Take a moment and think about your child.
  • Talk with your children’s other parent, family members, and key people in their lives.
  • Talk with your child. Are there any concerns about school? Does he think his teachers like him? (Because perceptions matter, the answer to this question can be very informative.)
  • Find samples of the child’s schoolwork. Do you see anything that worries you?

Reprinted from Leader magazine.
Copyright Active Parenting Publishers, Inc.