A big part of your child s education success is a good relationship between the school and family. Adie Simmons, director of Washington state s Office of the Education Ombudsman, explains more.

What exactly does the office of the education ombudsman do?

We offer free services to parents who are experiencing problems with the school their student attends and have not been able to resolve the situation by any other means. For example, a student has been bullied or harassed and is depressed and doesn t want to go to school anymore or a student has been suspended or expelled and the parent is desperate to get him or her back in school. The parents that I talk to are deeply involved in their children s education and need help to overcome obstacles to getting the best education possible for their children.

We hear so much about parental involvement in education. How do you define that?

Well, we are now using the term Family Involvement in Education as we see family members also raising children and actively participating in education. To me, it s really a partnership between the school, the family and the student. Educators can t do their work alone, in isolation, and neither can families. Educators also parent and families also teach.

I like to use the term School-family partnership to describe Family Involvement because it not only implies shared values and goals but also shared responsibility. Both schools and families are responsible for the future of the children they share.

With schools facing deep budget cuts, what roles can families play in the education of their kids?

Families and educators are natural allies. And with diminished resources, schools need their students families more than ever. Families bring enormous social capital and a wealth of resources and information to their kids schools that go sometimes underutilized.

But you know, family involvement is about student academic success and research shows that families also play a very important role supporting education from home.
This involves sending consistent messages to their children and making sure that they know they have a solid partnership with their teachers.

What are the best tips for parents who want to help their kids succeed in school?

Parents should talk to their children starting at an early age about their future. Let their child know they have high expectations of them. For example, say when you go to college not IF you go to college.

Let them know the family values education.

Discuss their children s hopes and dreams for when they grow up.

And most importantly they should consistently demonstrate how they are working together with their teachers as partners.

You can learn more about having a good relationship between your family and school plus other hot parenting topics at ParentMap s Education Extravaganza. That s Tuesday night from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bellevue s Meydenbauer Center. It s free to the public.

For more information:

Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman

ParentMap Education Extravaganza for Families

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