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Communicating with your child’s teacher is one way to help him succeed at school. But just how often should you contact the teacher, and what questions should you ask? And when do a your questions get to be too much? Or can you ask too much?

 

We asked Jerry L. Parks, a social studies teacher at Georgetown (Ky.) Middle School and a member of the 2007 USA Today All-USA Teacher Team, to share his thoughts. Parks keeps in touch with parents through email, class websites, and phone calls. He is the author of Help! My Child Is Starting Middle School! A Survival Handbook for Parents.

What differences do you notice in students with involved parents?

“Parents who take an active interest in their child’s work and school well-being are one of the biggest contributors to my students’ success,” Parks says. Children of involved parents typically have higher self-esteem and have fewer behavior problems in school. And students’ grades usually improve when their parents become involved.

How can parents stay informed about their child’s school performance?

If your school posts grades online, be sure to check them often. Emailing the teacher is also a good way to get a quick status report. “Email has been a godsend,” he says, because it is “less intrusive for the teacher and less threatening for the parent.”

What are some questions parents should ask about their children?

Ask the teacher whether she thinks your child is giving his best effort in class and whether she has noticed any significant changes in your child’s behavior or grades, Parks suggests. It’s also a good idea to find out whether the teacher has concerns about the friends your child has chosen. Make sure you understand the teacher’s policy for making up missed work, and don’t forget to ask about the best way to keep in touch throughout the year.

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