How You Can Help Your Kid Succeed in a Large Class

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 If you are reading this because you just found out how many students are in your child's class and you are worried, take a moment to learn a little more and evaluate how big is too big, and if the measures you can take will make a difference.

First off, the number of students in the class may not be telling you the whole story.  It could be that your child is in a large class that has two co-teachers, or other adults who assist the children in learning.  This would give the class a low student to teacher ratio - still a very good situation.

The second thing to consider are the variables that really make smaller class size cost effective for a school.  In other words, not every group of school students will really benefit from being in a small class.  If the class is passed the earliest grades, the teacher has a great deal of experience, and there is not a high percentage of vulnerable students, the teacher can probably do an effective job of teaching this group. 

But what if it is a young grade level?  What if you know that the school your child is going to recently faced personnel cuts and now has more students per class than they have had in years?  What if the teacher even seems overwhelmed by the sheer number of students?

Complaining and sulking about the size of the class won't help anyone.  It may even discourage your child from doing their best in school.  Instead, try to do the most positive and helpful things that you can do within your abilities.  If your child's teachers are facing the challenge of a truly large class, anything parents can do to help the situation will help ease the stress on everyone.

1.  Make Sure You Read All Communications From the Teacher and School

An overwhelmed teacher has limited time to follow up with parents to make sure that they received a note. These notes could be permission slips, what the class is learning this week, or a note of concern for your child.  Find out how your child's teacher communicates, and be extra certain to make a daily habit of checking for any communications.

2.  Volunteer Any Way You Can

Larger Classes can really benefit from all of the little help they can get.  This could mean coming to the class to help the class once a week, reading to younger grade kids in school, or even making photocopies for the teacher.  Doing a task that only takes a few minutes still, takes one more task off the teacher's busy agenda, and makes sure it gets done.  It also shows support for a teacher who might feel stressed.

3.  Find Or Become a Volunteer Organizer

Find one person who coordinates all of the little tasks so that the teacher doesn't have to.  If you are worried about finding enough volunteers to help, look into ways to recruit volunteers.

5. Make Sure You Child Stays Current On Their Work

Kids who miss school or fall behind in their homework can take up a lot of a teacher's classroom time.  The teacher has to find time to repeat lessons to these children while moving forward with the regular class plan.  Obviously, you should keep your child home from school if they are truly sick.  You can ask for any missed school work  and help your child complete it at home as soon as they are able to work on it.

5. Support The Other Kids and Parents, Too

Keep a positive, supportive attitude yourself and it just may rub off on other parents.  You can also work together with other parents to make sure work is completed.  Not only is it important for your child to get their work done, but all of the kids in the class.  Students who fall behind or miss school can use up a lot of a teacher's classroom time getting make- up lessons or in class help with their work.  

Coordinate with your child's friends from school to have combined homework/playdate times.  This can help make sure other kids get their homework done and have fun together.

It may also help to know that American schools on average have class sizes that are much smaller than they were in the 1950's.  Data from theNational Center For Education Statistics shows that student-teacher ratios have fallen from 27.5 to 15.2 from 1950 to 2012, respectively.  This does include data from smaller classes and increased support for disabled and special needs students.  Still, it gives me some hope that is children were able to learn in large groups in the past, they can learn in large classes today.

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