Learning how to navigate the school year can be challenging for children and their parents, Linda Inmon, Extension specialist for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said.

New teachers, ever-changing homework assignments and relationship building are a few of the challenges many parents face, according to a news release.

“Today, even knowing how to help your children with their homework can be confusing,” she said. “Homework assignments have evolved over the years. If we hear our children say, ‘That’s not how it’s supposed to be done,’ we may want to throw our hands up in frustration.”

Inmon said parents shouldn’t be discouraged. There are a few steps they can take to understand how to navigate the current and subsequent school years.

“One of the most important steps parents can take to ensure a positive school experience is to start building a relationship with their child’s teacher,” she said. “This will help them understand the teacher’s requirements and expectations in regard to the student as well as the parents themselves.”

To establish a relationship with their child’s teachers, parents can:

• Visit the school and set up appointments to meet with the child’s different teachers.

• Discuss class requirements and expectations, as well as any concerns.

• Inform the teacher of any special circumstances related to the child – for example, the death of a loved one, a recent move, or a new baby in the family.

• Ask how they can assist in their child’s education.

• Take part in parent-teacher conferences and ask questions when clarification is needed on a matter.

Inmon said it is also important for parents to stay actively involved in their child’s education at school and in the home. They should:

• Take part in parental-involvement activities at the school.

• Ensure the child’s homework is completed and returned.

• Inquire about the availability of a tutor if the child is experiencing difficulty in a particular subject.

• Praise the child for their efforts.

• Communicate with the child about how their day went.

“Parental involvement is necessary for the success of any school, teacher or child,” Inmon said. “It helps instill a climate of learning for all involved. As Socrates said, ‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.’”

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.

— Will Hehemann is a writer/editor with the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.