Parental Participation

Parental Participation

I am a parent and educator and have been thinking a great deal lately about parental participation in schools. A parent is a child’s first educator, who remains their primary educator through out their life.  I remember when I was a new classroom teacher I cringed when ever I would get a note in my mailbox asking me to call a parent.  I used to wonder what now.  But having been a parent for 16 years, and a paid educator going on 30 years, I have a much different perspective.

How much do we welcome parents in our classrooms?  Do we just want them back up our policies on homework and classroom rules?  Do we want them discuss how their children learn or what strategies work best for them?  Honestly do you welcome their comments and suggestions? I would love to hear your thoughts, please share.

12 thoughts on “Parental Participation

  1. We want supportive parents. We want parents on our side. Unfortunately, I think many teachers are not experiencing parents like they used to. I’m seeing parents taking the side of the student, who often is lying and yelling at the teacher or principal. Many students I see have no respect for their teacher, principal, or any other adult in an authority position.

  2. I would feel very uncomfortable if parents were to stay in my classroom while I am teaching because I would feel like a fish in a very small fish-bowl. On the other hand, some research has shown that when parents are involved in their children’s education, their children perform better in school. Because of this, I welcome parental involvement in the form of them supporting classroom routines and expectations, supporting their children’s learning at home by assisting with learning strategies or with homework completion. I welcome open communication with parents and prefer for them to speak directly to me if there are any questions or concerns.

  3. I agree with Chad Lehman in that parents often become a stress on teachers because they often take the side of the dishonest student, and I also agree with Marilyn Edwards that it can be nerve racking when a parents stands in on your classroom. It can very much feel as if you are in a fish bowl. However, maybe if the parent was actively involved in your classroom often, then he or she would understand the truth of incidents that go on with his or her child. The truth is that parents just want to be involved. They want to know that their precious little Billy is becoming a success, and that you are teaching to the best of your ability to get him there. If the parents is involved in your classroom often, hopefully they will be able to notice your efforts to give Billy the most successful learning environment as possible. Send the parents emails randomly just to let them know that their student is doing well. Don’t wait for their child to do something wrong to send them an email. Send an encouraging email before it gets to that point to create a positive and trustworthy bond with the parents. These are just some suggestions that I have learned from my experiences with teaching. Great blogpost and great comments!

  4. I did not grow up with parents in any of my classrooms. You can imagine how odd it was to me the first time I was told about parent helpers. I have been pushed and encouraged to have parent helpers in the classrooms. Many schools have made it a requirement that parents spend a certain amount of hours in the classroom each year/semester/quarter. I have found that some parents do this soley to get in the requirement set by the schools, but other parents are actually a huge help. They can help with keeping the class on task, grading papers, basically taking some stress off of you. There may even be one parent that you want and do keep around for years. Obvioulsy there are pros and cons to this and parents can make this a great experience or a horrible one, however, if you show that you are in control, and only have their child’s best learning interest in mind, then I think you will be very successful.

    I agree with Jaclyn. I think you should send home notes/emails, not only when the child has done something unacceptable, but when there is something good that you want to recognize. This gets the parent on your side, which is essentially what you want to do to make for a smooth year.

  5. Having been a parent before I became a teacher, I might look at things from a different perspective also. As a reading teacher of struggling students, I need input from parents about strategies their child is using at home, the child’s interests, study habits, etc. I look at it this way – I can be the person who can more easily compare one student against the rest of the class and give the parents some input into how their child is doing in relation to their peers. The parents, on the other hand, would be the people who are the supreme experts about their child. If I communicate with them regularly, including both praise and concerns, and work to build their trust, a parent’s input is invaluable. After all, if I cannot convince the parents that I truly want to help their child, who is going to follow through with the suggestions I give for reading strategies to use at home? My goal is to move from a monthly newsletter with personal comments to a blog which will hopefully become a tool for regular two-way communication between school and home. Any suggestions for how to build or increase comments from home through a blog or wiki?

  6. As a cyber school teacher I have a different perspective on parents involvement in a child’s education as the parent is the one there with the student each day. I sometimes communicate with parents more than I do the students themselves.
    I love having parent involvement in students’ education. I find that students succeed when parents are involved. I do see some of what Chad mentioned above with parents supporting students in inappropriate behavior, but in general I think the parents are great and in my teaching environment they are an essential part of student success.

  7. I have worked for several years as a teacher and I have found that parents tend to come into two categories. The first is the parent that generally wants to help. I have taught kindergarten. They are generally very helpful and want to be involved in their child’s education. These parents generally make great “room mothers or fathers.” They are involved and want to make sure that they help in anyway that they can to get their child the best education possible.

    The second type of parent is the parent that has a problem child. The child is generally a slower learner or has issue with acting out in the class. Most of the time I have found that these parents are difficult to deal with because the often feel that their child could never do anything wrong and it must be a problem that I have with their sweet innocent child. These are the parents that are so frustrating to work with. They tend to put their effort into finding something wrong with my educational instruction or the way I handle their child. This can be very challenging. I look at it is part of the job and try not to let it bother me. Malcolm Forbes once said that job without adversity, isn’t a job. I wish I had a magic solution on how to solve this case but as we know, their is not one case fits all solution. Sometimes we just have to grin and bear it!

  8. I apologize for not responding earlier, I wish there were more hours in the day, or I had fewer items on the ‘to do’ list. Reading your comments it seems some of you may have had more negative interactions with parents then positive, which is a shame. I often wonder if parents were more aware of what goes on in schools (curriculum, technology, testing, mandates, teaching) they might not become advocates for change in schools. I know that when I feel I have no control over a situation I tend to be more judgmental and stressed. Do parents feel they have lost control of their child’s education and are also dealing with all the new challenges of raising children today that they react defensively?

    Jaclyn, I like your suggestion for offering lots of information and positive feedback early may deflect or prevent some of the defensive and negative barriers that can arrive later on in the school year. Sandy I think that a classroom blog or wiki would be a nice way to get students involved as well. They could be guest authors for the week or day sharing a new skill or strategy they learned. They could share their favorite reading books and make suggestions for other.

    Caroline, as the mother of a child with unique needs I was probably one of those problem parents. As an educator I knew what the school should do and also aware of my child’s strengths and weakness. I was in there often, especially at the beginning of their education. Both the school and I needed to learn about the situation and develop strategies for not just getting by but develop strategies to be independent and successful. I also knew the difference between need and want. I took care of the wants not the school and I handled some of the needs as it was quicker if I did it then wait for school bureaucracy, so I may not have been a complete nightmare.

    Eric, I know of some teacher/tutors who support students who are at home and they rely heavily on parents as the parents rely on them. Some very supportive and collaborative partnerships have emerged and those students’ success has just blossomed.

    Why do parents send their children to school anyway? Is it because it is the law, because they want us to assist them in educating their children, or did they abdicated their responsibility to educate their children and passed it on to schools? I guess what you think about why parents place their children in our care influences how we work with parents.

  9. I think that parents do need to be in the classroom. Parents are a big help when they are in the classroom. When a students know that their parents will come to the classsroom it is less behavior problems. Parents will help in the classroom and sometimes purchase things for the classroom. I love it when a parent comes to our classroom to me it show that the parent care about what their child is learning or doing in school.

  10. I think we live in a very complex world and the adults in our students’ lives are also leading complex lives. It would be a challenge to find a home where either natural parent worked outside the home to sustain the family while the other parent maintained the home and supported educational pursuits. Those days are long gone. We now have homes where both adults work and often more than one job. They come home exhausted and are reluctant to attend to homework. Children also have multiple activities after school that often take priority over school work. Homes environments are more complex because of the relationship between the adults and their extended families. Weekends are often complicated by children spending time in a different home. If an adult wishes to control educational efforts, it can often be thwarted by time spent in an alternative home. Certainly I wholeheartedly agree that contact with these adults and sustained positive relationships can only enhance a child’s education. However, adults in the home and educators can often have very different agendas for the same children. Certainly everyone wants a child to be successful in school but the responsibility for that success may not be shared in agreed proportions. In fact there seems to be more of a shift towards the concept that education is solely the school’s responsibility not everyone’s. A conversation with a parent may be very helpful in determining his/her perception of the extent of everyone’s contribution to a child’s education. I would agree that technology can provide greater adult access to information about school and a child’s educational progress. I think spending time with parenting adults- talking about their life, home environment, and expectations could do a great deal to align teacher demands with children’s real worlds.

  11. It is hard to get the parents inivolved in the community that i work at. I think that it is very important for a parent to be involved in the childs education and feel welcome in the school buildings at all times. I think that they are so many parents today that could care less what kind of education their child recieves. As a result of this, you see state testing scores decrease. When parents are not involved in most cases it causes discpline problems with that student. I have seen so many parents who thinks that their child does no worng and belives everything that they say. This hurts our classrooms as well. I would love to see all of my students parents involved.

  12. Hi there. I’m a little late in this post, but I’m hoping someone will still read and respond. I am a recent career changer, former public relations professional turned 7th grade science teacher two years ago. I am taking on our school’s journalism class next year and I want to start a campus news blog to help parents become more involved in our campus. My hope is that they will feel more a part of what is going on and will take a more active role in their child’s education.

    So here’s why I’m hoping this technology blog can help . . . I have used typepad in the past and was planning to use it again because it allows junior authors to write posts, but only the owner can post them. However, in this process it does not allow junior authors to upload photos. Since this is a journalism blog, I need students to be able to load photos, just not to post without permission.

    Does anyone know of a service that would allow me to do this? Do you know of other school blogs/websites with the same purpose?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.