No Parents Left Behind!
Gairre Henry and Sharon Pettey-Taylor
As most of us know, the home-school connection can be a fundamental component of our students’ educational growth. When we implement ideas and plans that incorporate parents appropriately into the fold, it creates stronger, more informed decision makers who reinforce the learning at home. Inevitably, guided support from our students’ first teachers (parents or guardians) adds an extension to the classroom experience, thus improving student performance.
Considering the reality of our world today, many of our parents are dealing with the nitty gritty details of daily life. Clearly, the desire of parents to support their children’s academic and social progress is there, but parents and caretakers alike need to thoughtfully plan ways in which they can be involved in the learning process of their children.
As our students advance from Pre-K through to the twelfth grade, the goal is to increase the ability of the caretaker to be multifaceted partners with teachers and administrators for the ongoing advancement and enrichment of the children.
Developing as a Professional educator is our sixth Professional Teaching Standard. It contains a subdivision which states that working with families improves our professional practice:
As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I engage families as sources of knowledge about students’ linguistic and social backgrounds? Provide opportunities for all families to participate in the classroom and school community? Ensure that communication with all students and their families is understood?”
Getting parents to be active participants in the learning community, which aids in providing students with every opportunity to blossom and succeed, is one of our primary objectives.
Consider using the following practical ideas to foster this invaluable collaboration:
- Hold a “Parents Are Invaluable Partners” workshop. Invite motivational speakers for problem solving and discussion or conduct the workshop yourself.
- Host a “Parent Tea” for exchange of ideas and practices.
- Organize a “Fathers Supper” allowing all voices to be heard.
- Start a “ Grandparents Focus Group” for support. We now have more grandparents as caretakers than ever before.
- Brainstorm with parents regarding the best ways to enhance appropriate communication.
- Use your Parent Coordinator as a resource, if you have one.
- Stay in contact with your PTA or Parents Association.
- Keep a clear record of all parental/guardian contact.
- Initiate a “Parent Support Group,” especially for parents of students with special needs.
- Introduce parents to websites, organizations and associations that support parent issues.
- Listen to what parents have to say during parent-teacher conferences. Their perspectives and concerns can be quite helpful.
- Create an “Annual Family Day Carnival.” Informal interactions are priceless.
- Invite parents to student performances, celebrations, special events, and competitions. Allow students to plan, prepare and serve as hosts for their parents.
As we continue on our respective professional journeys, let’s freely lock arms with our parents for an invaluable partnership of mutual support. Ideally, we share the same common goal that ultimately leads to higher student achievement, enrichment, and progress.
Reference: Developing as a Professional – Working with families to improve professional practice. The Professional Teaching Standards, New Teacher Center at The University of California, Santa Cruz, 2004.
Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion about this article? E-mail Sharon.
See also: "The Home School
Connection: Including ESL Parents in the Classroom" by Tobey Bassoff