Involved Parents

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What is an involved parent?  Are you one?  Do you define “involved” as being at the school for all of the class parties and events, or is it providing your child with additional learning opportunities outside of school, or something more?

Helping to increase our school’s family involvement was the main reason I chose to serve on our parent association board.   Recently, I have listened to feedback from school staff, been part of a parent-teacher book chat on family engagement, and spoken with parents from other schools about what they do. Early on, I associated being “engaged” with attending school events and activities.  I wanted to know what we needed to do differently to get the other families that we weren’t seeing at these events to join us.  I noticed we would get a very different turnout for educational related events versus fun family events, and much to my surprise, a larger attendance.  Proof kids have the desire to learn and families value the importance of education and are willing to support it in anyway.

We all have differing opinions on the definition of being a “partner”.  At our book chat with the parents and teachers from my children’s school we all shared our thoughts and ideas on the book Beyond the Bake Sale by Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp.  A book about how to build real partnerships between home and school…beyond the bake sales.   It was here that I had an eye opening experience.  In my conversation with another mom, who comes from a culture different from what I know, she shared with me that some cultures are involved strictly by supporting their children learning while at home.  They don’t feel that need to attend school events.  They are choosing to miss the events because they don’t feel it adds anything to their child’s learning.  I also had a kindergarten mom share with me how she wants to be that “bake sale” parent and nothing more just yet.

I will never be able to give up on attempting to get all of our families involved, but I have accepted the idea that not everyone is ready to dive in as I have.  Their definition of involved is just different from mine at the moment, and I wouldn’t trade the time these parents are willing to join us for the world.  The best we can do is to continue to provide options and reasons to attend, whether it be to enhance their child’s learning or the opportunity to learn from or teach others.

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About Gwen Pescatore

Mom of 3 ~ #PTchat co-moderator ~ @Edutopia community facilitator ~ @MomCorps Marketing Mgr ~ #ParentCamp ~ Co-host of ParentED at http://goo.gl/lS1xDu View all posts by Gwen Pescatore

4 responses to “Involved Parents

  • Carmelle Steel

    Schools need to ENSURE there are a varied number of opportunities for parents to contribute and engage as they see fit. Many unfortunately think they can choose which parents and what tasks … Excluding those that ask too many questions, expecting answers. We need to move away from “we don’t need your help” to a much more collaborative “how can you help us make our school/your child’s education better?”

    • gwenpescatore

      Thanks, Carmelle for reading and sharing!!
      There most definitely needs to be a variety of opportunities, tailored to the the families that are part of the community. It does no good to offer say a Christmas breakfast if no one celebrates it. The opportunities put out there need to be well thought out and planned with all relevant parties involved. This year my goal is to plan our calendar for next year with a variety of events suggested by the school staff and the parents. All opinions count if we want them to participate.
      As far as admin believing there is no room for parents in the school…they are doing a huge disservice to the children in my mind. I know you can go from a “closed door policy” to a full “partnership policy”, so you start small. To get started I think it goes back to building the relationships 1st. That may start with 1 parent & 1 teacher or maybe it is with the principal (but I don’t think it’s the only place to start). Once there is a level of trust, both sides have more of an open mind to trying something new.
      Parents are a valuable free resource that shouldn’t go unused.

  • Debbie R

    We need to ensure there are opportunities for all parents to be involved in whatever way they choose. The hope is that parents involve themselves in a way that most benefits their child and perhaps feeds their soul. Isn’t that what we want anyway?

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