As a youngster, a commercial had a tremendous effect on my view and attitude concerning drugs besides the concern expressed by my parent. That commercial was the commercial that depicted a father catching his daughter using drugs. He asked his daughter how she learned about drugs. She responded, “I learned from watching you dad! I learned it from watching you!” The following scenario is adapted from that commercial:
Mrs. Davis goes into her son’s room to put away his laundry. As she opens his underwear drawer, she sees a sheet of folded paper. The mother grabs the paper, unfolds it, and reads it. It happens to be her son’s report card that was given out two weeks ago. She continues to put away the laundry and decides to confront him when he arrives home from school. Her son walks in and she immediately shouts at him about hiding his grades. “Johnny, why do you have four F’s on your report card, she asks. Johnny responds, “Mom, you don’t care about my schooling. You never talk to me about school. You have missed every parent-teacher conference since school began and now you want to talk to me about my grades. This is the third term. You have not asked me about the other two terms. I don’t think that school is important. It’s not important to me! It’s not important to you!”. . . . . . . .
The above scenario is a microcosm of households throughout the metro area. Parents are not monitoring their child’s grades and are surprised to see failing grades. Parents of low socioeconomic students need to know they are condemning their children to their fate if they do not get involved in their schooling. They are doomed to that fate because they internalize the educational values of their parents. If you had a bad experience at school and are not involved, you are sending a harsh message to your child. That message is that school is not important.
School officials assume parents do not want to be involved at school- some do not. Parents assume school officials do not want them at schools- some do not. Both parents and school officials assume that students do not want parents involved in school- some do not. We need to stop making assumptions when it comes to the education of our children. It is just too important.
Breaking the cycle of low test scores
One of the keys to breaking the cycle of low test scores is parental involvement. It is the responsibility of both schools and parents. Schools do a poor job of reaching out to parents and parents do a poor job of reaching out to schools. There is s positive correlation between parent involvement and student achievement. The promotion of parental involvement supports attitudes that bolster achievement in schools. It is not the fault of one particular group of stakeholders.
The following are suggestions for each adult group of stakeholders:
- Talk about the importance of learning
- Make sure a child gets to school on time with the proper materials
- Keep lines of communication open between home and school. If you don’t have a phone, give teachers a neighbors phone number.
- Monitor your community
- Take your children to the library and museum
- Model positive behavior for your children.
- Praise your child’s efforts
- Network with other parents. When you cannot make a meeting, find someone else who can.
- Involve the grandparents. Grandparents are a terrific resource for school because most of them are retired and would enjoy spending that extra time with their grandchildren
- Hire parent liaison. Most schools have them. However, they do not utilize them to their full potential.
- Use layman’s terms. Sometimes “fancy” words are counterproductive.
- open a parent resource room, where staff members conduct parent workshops, and where parents can come and get ideas to help their child. This room is a very good tool for breaking the barriers that parents have towards school that were caused by bad experiences.
- Provide specific information about how parents can help their children. Many parents want to help their children. They just don’t know how. This is due to the change in instructional strategies and objectives.
- Provide information on assessment as well as the curriculum
- Listen to parents
- Open up the lines of communication early in the school year. This will let the parents know that their involvement is wanted in your classroom.
- Create school or classroom newsletters.
- Celebrate the good news
If your child is failing, get involved. If your students are failing, get your parents involved. It is a team undertaking!