The oft-forgotten role parents could play in their child’s education


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Two childrenAs parents, we tend to entrust teachers with the responsibility of educating our children through curriculum studies and by instilling proper social behaviour. For the most part, parents play a support role, ensuring that their child eats well, gets a good night’s sleep, and hands in homework on time –limiting the abuse of the legendary “the dog ate my homework” excuse. However, parents could continue playing this task-manager role while also becoming a navigator. They can advise their child on how to manoeuver through the new and sometimes unchartered waters of a classroom environment. In this oft-forgotten role, parents can help their kids understand teachers’ expectations, learn how to interact in a group setting, and identify personal strengths, which are all useful skills in school and throughout life.

Parents can help their children understand teachers’ expectations

Everyone instinctively knows that a child should raise their hand in class in order to ask a question or to answer one. However, not every child will understand that a raised hand indicates to their teacher that they are interested in the lesson. As a navigator, a parent could explain to their child that teachers expect to see hands raised, perhaps not all the time, but on a regular basis, as a visual cue of knowing that the child is actively listening. This would also present an opportunity for the parent to explain to their child that teachers don’t expect every response to be 100% correct, but instead perceives their answer as one step in a child’s learning process.

Parents can help their children survive (and thrive) in group settings

On occasion, individual participation will be substituted with group work when children are required to work collectively to complete a task. This situation can be challenging for a child who rarely interacts with the other group members, or who feels that their interests are ill-matched with the interests of the other students in the group. As navigators, parents could advise their child on ways to better work with others, overcome obstacles, or consider ways to take a lead on some aspect of the project that does interest them.

Parents can help their children uncover their own intelligence style

Measuring success in most school systems continues to be primarily based on linguistic or mathematical intelligence. However, there are widely accepted multiple types of intelligence that a parent could use to help their child incorporate their strengths in the classroom and in group environments. The child’s success may not be measured by the school’s standard test scores, but it could offer the child a way to excel in their own way.

It is evident that the classroom has changed drastically since many of us were in school: from black boards and white chalk to Smart Boards and iPads. The role parents can play in their child’s education has also changed. This provides parents with an opportunity to teach their child about expectations, diversity and personal strengths so that they better understand who they are, and what they might bring to the classroom. This success and awareness could help the child sail through potentially choppy classroom waters, and hopefully ease their transition from their current school desk to their future cubicle or boardroom table.

By Talya Rotem.

For more advice on how to help your child, visit or call 1 866 833-7690.

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