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Why Parent Involvement is Key

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Great amounts of research and media attention has been given to the question:

What makes a student successful?

Parent involvement is cited often as a key ingredient to a thriving school community.

As a teacher, I often hear peers talk about needing more or less of it.  As a parent, I listen to other parents who want to help, but don’t know how.  Depending on your school community, parent involvement can look very different: parents volunteering in classrooms, taking prep work home, popping in for school events, and/or maintaining regular communication via email, notes, or face to face meetings.

Here are 8 factors to consider about parent involvement:

  1. Your children need to know we are all on the same team. 
    Often children come home with stories that place blame externally. If you jump on the opportunity to blame the teacher or the school, you can miss out on the important other side of the story. When kids know that we communicate, they will be more apt to ask for help instead of blaming. Also, when we communicate often, we can use the same language of encouragement.
  2. We are with your child a good portion of the day.
    We have information that is important to you and can help you address your child’s needs both educational and otherwise.

  3. Together we have power. 
    When up against the bureaucracy of a school system that often makes decisions not in the best interest of a child, we can work together to exert the pressure for officials to make the right decisions. I have worked together with many parents to help them advocate for services for their child.

  4. We need mutual trust.
    Just as you may have had prior experiences with teachers, we have had challenging encounters with parents. Open communication builds trust.

  5. When you participate in school events, you get to see a different side of your child.
    Perhaps you have never realized the leadership skills your child possesses. Conversely, maybe you are not seeing the difficulties your child is facing socially.

  6. Our worlds impact each other
    Your child’s life outside of school influences his/her home life.  We need to be sharing solutions and challenges that impact your child’s educational success.

  7. If we don’t have input from you, we make assumptions.
    Not purposely, of course. We fill in the gaps of information by what we think we know. Maybe you have a very good reason why your child is late 3 times a week. Help us out so we can help you!

  8. Together we can put pieces of your child’s learning into a puzzle that makes sense.
    When you give us the history/background of problems and solutions with your child, we save a lot of time in choosing interventions.

So how do you get involved? Begin by observing the patterns at your school. What are common practices for parent involvement? Knowing the way communication is usually handled or how parents are welcomed into the classroom is key.

What if you want to make change? You can, of course, get involved in the School-Parent Association or other mechanism of action in your school. By respecting and knowing about the practices already in place, you will have a much better chance to connect with others who may also want to make positive change in your school.

If you’re yearning to read more check out Education World’s series on parent involvement. Don’t sit back and be an observer: jump in and be a part of your school community!

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