It is important to communicate regularly with your child's teachers from kindergarten through high school. A deployment can make it hard to stay involved with your child's teachers. With the use of communication technologies and a little advance planning, you can stay involved with your child's school life throughout your deployment. The following tips can help you stay in touch with your child's teacher:
- Enlist the help of your spouse or your child's guardian. Before you deploy, discuss with your spouse or your child's guardian how you can work together. Your spouse or your child's guardian can help with school attendance, homework and communication with the teacher. If he or she has limited English-speaking abilities, your child's school may be able to provide a translator. This may be a new role for your spouse or your child's guardian if you normally help with homework and communicate with teachers. Give specific information on what his or her role should be while you are deployed.
- Know what resources the school has available. Many schools have websites that will keep you up to date on your child's schoolwork. If your child is in a DoD school, for example, you can get connected to GradeSpeed, which will keep you current on your child's grades and attendance. To access GradeSpeed, visit dodea.gradespeed.net.
- Make plans before you deploy. Be sure to meet with your child's teacher before you deploy. Make sure he or she understands you want to stay a part of your child's life while you are gone. Ask if you can stay in contact with your child's teacher via email or if the school has accommodations to help you stay in touch, such as a website. Plan to communicate on a regular basis as your mission allows. Let the teacher know if you would like to be informed about specific issues, like a low grade or an unexcused absence.
- Decide on the best ways to communicate. For many deployed parents, email is the easiest way to communicate with teachers. If you are communicating with several teachers, you may want to set up an online chat. Much of your communication will depend on what technologies you have available to you when you're deployed. Before you leave, check out what you will have access to and talk to the teachers about the best way to communicate while you are gone. If you have not heard from your child's teacher in a while, send an email to check in. Teachers can get busy and a friendly email will remind your child's teacher that you want to stay involved. Try not to be concerned if you do not hear back right away. With time changes and the teacher's busy schedule, it may take a few days.
- Send a box to school. Ask your child's teacher what the class will be studying. If you can send something from a faraway place that relates to their work, the students will feel like the subject is real. Plus, your child will beam when the box is opened.