Instead of Complaining, Schools Should Show Parents How to Engage in Their Child’s Education

If you are in the field of education, then you know that if you ask a teacher to name the biggest problem that they deal with, lack of parental involvement would be number one on over 75% of the lists. This is not a scientific figure, but as an estimate, it is pretty good. These teachers are being honest in their answer, but few think about parental involvement in its totality.

What do I mean by that? Imagine this, you are a parent with 2 children, a couple of years apart. Based on your reference point, how your parents raised you, parental involvement means sending your child to school with clean clothes, a packed lunch or lunch money, and school supplies and completed homework. And yeah, you show up for a parent-teachers conference 1-2 times a year. The school does the rest.

You assume that your child has been taught the necessary skills by their teacher, so there is no need to help them with their homework or tutor them. If they fall behind in a subject like math; their teacher will take care of that. You have heard of the PTA, but you don’t have to participate, as other parents will fill leadership roles in the organization. Teachers have asked you to volunteer in your child’s class, but you think that this is just ceremonial and not an essential need. After all, schools have all the help they need.

In a sense, as a parent, your heart may be in the right place, but you don’t understand that parental involvement is a partnership between you and your child’s teachers. They may do 75% of the work, but they need you to do the other 25%. This means checking your child’s homework every night, tutoring them if they fall behind in a subject, Joining the PTA, volunteering in the classroom, etc. It also means staying in control of your child’s academic performance, frequently checking their average in all subjects and nudging them when their grades begin to dip.

I know we think that all parents should understand the scope of their parental involvement duties, but many do not. They don’t understand how to be fully engaged in their child’s education. Because of this, schools have to show them how. When their children enter kindergarten, invite them to professional development sessions aimed at teaching parents how to help their child be academically successful, and emotionally well balanced. These sessions can also be open to all parents with children in PreK-12. For parents that don’t attend, just send handouts home.

Sure, you may continue to have issues, with parental engagement, but now you can rest assured that you have done all that you can to bridge the gap.

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