While it is true that some parents are happy and grateful to bring their children to school and keep off until it is time to take them home, possibly because they have A LOT on their plates, it is also true that a majority of parents want to be actively involved at school. They just don’t know how to and when. Sadly, some schools don’t know either.
Modern parenting has brought in a balance of interaction and companionship between parents and children, unlike in the past when parental roles were mostly disciplinary, then feeding and clothing the kids and sending them to school, or not. We do not despise the traditional parenting methods, but we must agree that society does not reflect it as having been very successful. The same adults who pride themselves in having been properly disciplined as children are undisciplined now that nobody will whack them. Modern parenting has made a parent a companion, sometimes even a playmate! The benefits in the home front are immense, whenever a keen parent taps into them.
But how can your child’s school harness the benefits of modern parenting?
Does your child’s school know to embrace active parents and do they realize that their active participation benefits not just their own children but also the children of the parents who cannot be involved (or won’t be involved)?
Cooperative and collaborative effort between parents and schools in the education of a child ensures that the teaching on morals and conduct is clear and consistent, our children’s talents are discovered earlier in life and their growth in extracurricular activities is enhanced. The academic expectations on the child are well-supported, leading to better grades. Parents will have better understanding of the curriculum being offered thus be more likely to help their children and also have respect for the teachers’ work. The teachers and school admin will have higher morale and satisfaction at work and the school will get community support and better reputation.
This is what the school has to do:
- Have a parent-involvement program that is clearly known to all parents and that has well-laid procedures for them to plug into the learning process and environment. Parents will be more involved when the school clearly communicates that it wants and is ready for their involvement. If your child’s school does not communicate their need for your involvement, ask politely.
- Provide the school staff with knowledge on how to involve parents and have proper attitude towards parental involvement. We do not want to make the teachers feel attacked and invaded, feeling as if we are helicopter parents or tiger moms. Let the teachers reach out to the parents of their students, class-teachers can enlist parental involvement with a little more ease than the school management can.
- Encourage parents to volunteer as chaperones during school excursions, join in community service activities, serve as mentors to students alongside the teachers, help in classroom activities such as crafts or literacy lessons etc. Let all the other parents know which parents have volunteered as chaperones or mentors or coaching assistants and let the volunteers expect to be contacted by the rest of the school community in matters relating to their respective areas of volunteering.
- Invite parents into extracurricular activities that are in line with the parents’ skills and talents. These can help the children to muster skills and discipline for success in those activities. These parents can also network the school-clubs with successful adults who have excelled in such activities to motivate the students, such as swimming champions motivating swimming team or famous footballers motivating the team. Media personnel can motivate public speaking or debate clubs. Actors and actresses can help drama club, etc. Making use of parents’ networks will ease the logistics of organization from the school management and reduce costs.
- Organize information workshops/seminars for parents to support them in parenting skills. A two-hour session would do, inclusive of a plenary session to address a broad topic and small-group meetings on key topics, whereby a parent would choose which discussion topic is most necessary to them and attend only that. Topics can include: Help with bullies and self-esteem, Help with homework and performance, Help with drugs and teenage behaviour, Help with health and hobbies, etc.
- Make a dedicated committee of parents, teachers and school administration to oversee the implementation of parental involvement. This committee can initiate development of a parent-club, a pool of parents who want to be actively involved, and remind them of their volunteer commitments as scheduled. When parents see other parents leading and organizing these activities, they are likely to get on board. This committee can set up a desk during school open-day and other occasions for enlisting other parents into school involvement. The committee can also take care of teacher-appreciation so teachers don’t have to organize their own appreciation. This is a big lesson on gratitude to our children, which is not to be left to teachers.
This is what the parent has to do:
- Realize that your involvement at school does not take up your entire work-day. If you are volunteering in a club for instance, that’s one hour of your evening. Or take up something that’s done on a weekend. Chaperone the occasional trip, bake something for teacher appreciation week, or make a card with your child! If ever a free morning comes your way, give an hour to volunteering in a literacy class! You will get guidelines from the teacher. Let the children in your child’s school see constant interaction between parents and teachers, let them know their parents work together.
- If your school does not give you much chance for involvement, still attend any meetings called for by the school. Give input, or give feedback.
- Teach your child respect for the teachers and all school authority, demonstrate it too. If your child thinks they/their parents are above the teachers, they are unteachable. And you are wasting your school-fees.
- Have a consistent rapport with the school, and mostly with your child’s main teacher. You will always know about your child’s performance and behaviour at school. Don’t wait for alarming situations to show up.
- Check your child’s homework, and if the previous one was marked and corrected. Teachers have 25 students per class, at best. You have just a few children, you can look into their books every now and then.
- Network with other parents. Your child spends 8 hours daily with peers who are of great influence in their lives. If you know who are the friends of your child, you have done well. If you know who are the parents of their friends, you have done much better. It still takes a village to raise a child, stay woke !