Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bring Parents Back Into the Schools

parentsIn the article, School Tells Special Needs 7-Year-Old His Parents Can't Walk Him To Class from Change.org's Education Blog , Megan Cottrell tells the story about a 7 year old boy with Asperger's syndrome. At first the school let the parents walk him to class and he stopped suffering from the severe separation anxiety that he felt. Later the principal stopped allowing this because other parents complained. There was no mention of any kind of disruption or problems with the parents.

Now this brings up one of my favorite pet peeves and I hope this won’t turn into a rant. But I feel we need more parent involvement in schools to help turn the education system around. I’m not talking about allowing parents to disrupt schools or disregard the safeguards we have to keeping schools safe. But let’s not hide behind these two reasons to keep reasonable caring parents out of the schools.

Let’s go back in time to when I was in school. (Yes, they had school way back then!) I remember lots of parent involvement in the classroom. We had classroom parents who helped out and did special things for us when I was in elementary school. In junior high and high school I remember seeing parent volunteers as hall monitors, school nurse aides, library aides, and even bathroom monitors to make sure no one smoked in the bathroom (yes, we even had that problem in the dark ages!) There was no telling where a parent would turn up. And boy, did we watch our behavior and language while we were in school because you were never sure if your own parent might be around the corner.

I have worked in schools where parent involvement was encouraged and I loved it. I had parents coming in to help my students read. I also had parents offer to run papers off for me and organize my non-confidential papers. I also loved having parents as chaperones for field trips.

I have worked in schools where parent involvement was discouraged. What a disservice we have done for our students! I was told that an administrator would have to approve any parent involved in my classroom and no parents were allowed to go on field trips with us.

I am always concerned when a school does not want a parent to see what goes on during the school day. As a taxpayer, I think they have a right to observe. I understand for safety and security that they must check in with an administrator and even possibly make an appointment. Of course, all of my parents knew that they were welcome in my classroom at any time but they did need to call an administrator to get approval. In fact, they never needed to notify me ahead of time if the administrator approved it because I never acted or taught in any way that I should worry who saw what was going on.

My husband mentioned that Hitler did the same thing with the youth. He discouraged the parents from being a part of the education system. He wanted the government to control and raise the children. I hope our government is not encouraging this train of thought and if it is, we need to rise up and stand against it. I think parents should insist that they be a part of their child’s schooling.

Here are some reasons why I think it would be beneficial for parents to be involved in the school:

1. Parents need to see how students behave in the school setting.

2. Parents would go home and warn their child not to act like some of the students they had seen.

3. Some students would behave better because they may know the parent present.

4. Parents would better see what the school needs and actually become an advocate for the school.

5. Parents would better understand the needs of the teacher and be able to offer support.

6. Parents might have some suggestions that may actually help the classroom or the school.

7. Parents would be able to share the positive things they see going on in the school and not just hear about the negative things in the news.

8. Parents make great volunteers and who couldn’t use an extra pair of hands, eyes, or tutors!

How do you feel about parent involvement in the schools? Do you allow it at your school? Tell why or why not. Please share!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: '42-15650295'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/70403129@N00/2492474509 by: Elk City Oklahoma

5 comments:

ksquirkyteacher said...

As a fifth grade teacher, I had few parents wanting to get involved. I did have a parent who would call my classroom phone to check on her student randomly throughout the day. I encouraged this, as he was one of my major behavior issues.

Now, as a second grade teacher, I have had much more parental interaction. I had a parent come and sit with her child after being informed of his disruptive behavior. She got to see first-hand some of the things he was doing during the day. Another parent has come after school to sit with her son who was refusing to do any of the assignments.

When we did a unit on Coming to America, a mother who had immigrated from Mexico came in to talk to us about her experience. She did a wonderful job, and the kids sat with rapt attention for 45 minutes soaking in her stories of the trials of life in Mexico.

Parents have so much to offer our schools, and too few of them are taking advantage of the opportunity. I, too, have an open door policy (literally, my door is rarely shut). I tell my parents they are welcome any time (thankfully our building allows this), and I wish more of my parents would come see just what their kids are doing.

loonyhiker said...

@ksquirkyteacher Thanks so much for youor comments. I'm so glad that you encourage parent involvement!

Travis said...

I 100% agree with your post that parents need to be more involved in the schools. When a parent knows what their student is doing on a daily basis, I feel they become more involved in their child's education and the student performs better in class. I see a student for one hour a day and the parent sees them all night, so they certainly need to be involved in the education processes.

In my school district, the administration is very good with having parents involved in the schools (especially in Special Needs classrooms). We have a parent who comes in and teaches crafts to students with severe C.I. as well other parents who help with fundraisers and field trips. The administration has also been very good with making themselves available to parents. Finally, our district has a monthly newsletter & encourages its teachers to send a monthly newsletter as well for the parents. Once again, this is all to keep the parents involved in their child's education.

On a side note, I'm new to your blog but I must say, I am liking it so far. Keep up the great work!

hakea said...

The school I work in loves parent involvement.

Some parents sit in on classes for half a day per week. We have fathers day barbequeues and mothers day morning teas, and afterwards the parents are asked to come into their child's classroom. We also have a parent class one day per year, where parents are asked to come to school to learn what their children are learning.

Many people in the community are not literate so they can't help with reading, but they get involved in so many other ways according to their ability. There is always a large group of parents around the school at any one time.

The parents took over the school canteen when the school couldn't retain a contractor. The P&C at the school is highly active, and the principal has delegated many decisions to them. There are parent representatives on many committees involving student welfare and programming.

The parents provide support for the teachers, students, and for each other.

loonyhiker said...

@Travis and @Hakea I love hearing about how your school encourages your parents to be involved. I also loved hearing about how it makes a difference. Thanks so much for sharing!