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The Busy Parent's Guide to Raising Successful Students

Research suggests that parental involvement in school is vital to a child's academic success. However, if you're a single parent, a working parent, or a parent with little spare time, you may find it difficult to find ways to get involved. The following list of recommendations comes from the Harvard Family Research Project, an organization committed to advancing education.

At school

  1. Attend teacher-parent conferences. If the scheduling of conferences conflicts with your work schedule, speak to the teacher and principal about your situation, and work out a time when you can meet.
  2. Get over your own insecurities. The Harvard Family Research Project found that parents who had negative childhood experiences at school are less likely to get involved in their children's academic programs, and may feel uncomfortable contacting teachers. Remember that your child's academic experience is important and vital to his professional success; don't let your own obstacles hinder your child's success.
  3. Get to know your child's teacher. If you work the late shift, drop your child off at school and chat with the teacher in the morning. If you are not available during the school day, send notes along with your child -- or call or email the teacher -- to introduce yourself, to ask questions, and to raise your concerns.
  4. Drop in on extracurricular activities. If you are unavailable during the day, try to pick your child up from after-school activities. Arrive a few minutes early and watch your child in action. Sit in on her student council meeting or theater rehearsal.
  5. Find out how your school can help. Speak to a counselor or school administrator and explain your situation. Many schools have after-school programs or activities that supervise kids and keep them busy while their parents are still at work.
  6. Use a translator. Parents who speak English as a second language can get in touch with their child's school and request a translator. It's important for all parents to have their questions answered and their concerns properly communicated.

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