How To Be Involved In Your School-Aged Child's Academic Life
In elementary school it's appropriate for parents to be more directly involved with their child's school work. Elementary teachers tend to send work home in children's backpacks daily so parents can get a sense of what their child is working on. Parents can take this opportunity every day to try and engage with their child as they go through the child's backpack together. General questions like, "Can you tell me more about this activity?" are a good way to start a conversation with your child.
If your child is engaging in conversation, explore all that they have to share - good and "bad". Help them to feel like they can share anything with you and that your love and care for them will remain constant. Praising them with comments like, "It's great that you can let me know what's going on at school" helps to encourage more conversations like this in the future.
When children bring home completed schoolwork that is done well, it's important for parents to focus on their child's successes. By making comments that focus on effort, like "It looks like you worked really hard on this," or "Look how much you have grown! I remember when you were just starting to learn this" can help to promote a growth mindset.
For completed work that your child may have struggled with in class, try to offer an open ended question to get your child's perspective, maybe something like, "Can you tell me more about when you were working on this?" You want to try and get a sense of what is going on for your child as they worked. Perhaps another student was distracting them, perhaps they forgot their favorite pencil, or maybe you'll learn that they need more support with the subject matter. Children are more inclined to open up and discuss school in relationships where they feel free to express all of their emotions without fear of judgment. So when your child does tell you about something they are struggling with, listen and offer your support that is free from criticism or lectures.
Some children may not like their parents going through their backpack. If this is the case, parents can ask their child, "Can you show me the work that you have brought home today?" If your child says no, this is okay, but try to help them explore their feelings with questions like, "Is there something that you are worried about?" or "I understand this may be hard, but going through your backpack together is one way we can take care of you."
Nurturing a relationship with your school-aged child where they feel comfortable talking to you about their school and learning, helps to establish a relationship that they can turn to when they need help and support as they grow.