President Obama says that schools need parents’ help to succeed.
This was the title of a headline by the Associated Press. I have to admit the article did get me rather annoyed. Haven’t educators around the United States been saying this for years? Will things change now that President Obama has mentioned this as well?
Parent involvement is one of the most important factors in a child’s success in schools. As an educator, I have seen many cases where a parent’s involvement in the educational life of a student, has helped a floundering student succeed.
Educators have to put on many hats during the day as they interact with children. They have to not only be a teacher, but also a mediator, counselor, and sadly, a parent in the classroom, in some cases.
Why have some American parents forgotten that education isn’t something that happens only in schools? Education is a continual process. Children learn in school, but children also learn in social situations outside of school as well. While, this can be with friends, or friends’ families, the first place a child learns is in the home. If parents are supporting the education that a child receives from school in the home, they can help their child succeed and do better at school. Asking a child if they have completed their homework and letting them watch TV if they say, “Yes,” is not enough. Parents need to actually sit with their child and review their homework with them and remain in touch with teachers.
I’m not advocating “helicopter parenting.” Children need adult guidance, but children also need to be allowed to make their own choices, make mistakes, and learn from the consequences of those mistakes. But, I am saying that it doesn’t hurt to ask to leaf through a child’s homework. Even if, as a parent, you can’t help a child with his or her AP Calculus homework, doing some as simple as looking over the assignment can help you identify if your child is having trouble with it. For example, if a parent looks at their student’s planner for the day and asks to check the said calculus assignment and only 2 out of 10 problems are complete, then obviously you have a situation where your child is A) trying to dupe you or B) Having trouble with the homework, but is afraid to say anything. This situation is common with children whether they are a straight “A” honor student or not. Sometimes, children don’t like to admit they are having an issue with something. I know I still have an issues admitting when I need help. No one wants to look incompetent.
If parents are sensitive to situations like these they can make it easier for the child to succeed. Even something as simple as talking to a child about his or her day at school can be helpful. Even if a parent only gets a one word answer, the child does notice the effort (even if they sometimes complain to trusted teachers or to friends about the nosy question their parent asked the night before.)
So, parents, get in touch with your child from time to time. You don’t have to hover about them incessantly, but make the effort and keep some open lines of communication with educators. At the same time, remember that you are one of many parents so don’t hound the educators to death either. Schools need parents’ help to succeed. Well, that means some parents might actually have to do something.
(For more info about Obama’s visit to New Orleans, you can look at the news articles referring to it.)