Parental involvement is important. That much is clear. Currently, the media blames teachers for the current state of education. But before the media blamed teachers, they blamed parents, especially parents in the inner cities.
Research and dozens of studies show that what happens at home with regard to school can be more important that financial circumstances and zip code. Justice Sotomayor and President Obama are also examples that what happens at home can be more important than other circumstances.
It’s clear that parental involvement matters. What’s unclear a lot of the times is how parents can be involved. Here are 6 ways you can be more involved in your elementary school student’s education. Or if you’re a teacher, here are 6 things you can encourage your families to do.
1. Make sure kids get to school…on time. One of the big ways parents can help is by getting kids to school. This could mean anything from making sure they get to the bus stop on time to dropping them off in front of school. Parents who need to leave before their kids in the morning might consider arranging to have the school call them if a student is absent or late.
2. Help with homework. This is the standard way parents can be involved. When we think “parental involvement,” we think homework help. My mom continues to help my siblings with projects and book reports. Sometimes knowing the material isn’t necessary. Sometimes all parents need to do is create a safe, quiet space where the kid can work for a couple hours. But being realistic, sometimes helping with homework isn’t always possible. Good thing there are four more options in this article!
3. Attend parent/teacher conferences. Parents can be involved simply by meeting with teachers. Teachers can help with this by making themselves available outside of standard work hours. As a teacher, I had parents who just dropped by class (they asked ahead of time, of course) and sat in the back for an hour or two. I also made my phone number available to parents so that they could reach me if they need to. That parent-teacher relationship is crucial to student achievement.
4. Emphasize Education. If parents think school is stupid and say it aloud around their kids, chances are the kids will think school is stupid too. If parents say school is good and important, it definitely helps with the kid’s perspective on education. They are not yet at an age where rebellion and finding their identity is key. When they are young, let them know that school is important and college is attainable. That’s what my grandmother did for me, and I think I turned out pretty good.
5. Do your own teaching. Teaching is one of the many hats that good parents wear. My grandmother taught me a ton of things. From virtues like perseverance and patience to the difference between Monet and Manet, she taught me a lot. She taught me about life, love, literature, history, science, and more. I learned as much from her as I did in my 16 years of education. Parents can be that for their kids regardless of how much education they have. Parents still have things they can teach their kids. Most of my learning happened at my grandparent’s dining room table.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of ways parents can be involved with their kids.
What are some ways you as a parent are involved or you as a teacher encourage parents to be involved?
(Photo Credit: Dell’s Official Flickr on Flickr Commons)