The first teacher is any child knows is their parent(s). Even though the formal education of a child is given over to a teacher, the involvement of parents should never waiver and is vital in the learning, comprehension, and mastery of education. As the University Middle School adopts the NJ ASK for grades sixth, seventh, and eighth, and the six common core state standards, it is vital for the success of the students that parental involvement be at its peak.
Standard One: By expressing the vision of the plan, objective to achieving the goal, parents are aware of not only the expectation on their student, but also to the teacher will be engaged in the process. The parent will know the plan and be able to help and monitor their child’s progress throughout the preparation period. It is up to the school to help engage parents to what is going on with the child’s education. Presenting the overview of the new standards and the testing measures provided insight as to how involved this schools parents are in what is going on. Meetings about local changes are the perfect opportunity to engage parental involvement.
Standard Two: Just as students do well when they have a steady schedule and the same teachers every day, steady help, support, and involvement from the same family member will help their success. Parents must create, maintain, and cultivate an environment where learning is at the forefront. To that end their child will also understand the importance of getting an education. From the little things such as visiting school, dropping off and picking up and knowing their child’s teachers promotes advocacy, and presents a united front on education.
Standard Three: Just as the teachers, staff, and faculty work to create a safe environment, it is up to the parent to create that safe environment at home which will be conducive to reading, writing and doing homework. Having a dedicated place to do homework, reading to their child, and spending time together sharing details about their day, gives students a sense of comfort and safety and cultivates a relationship of trust so that children will talk to their parents about what is going on at school. In high crime areas, children often do not feel safe anywhere. Security guards and off-duty police officers are ways to make children safe. When children feel safe they will be able to concentrate on studying.
Standard Four: It takes a village to raise a child. Calling parents, emailing progress reports, sending details about school functions are ways to foster parent involvement. Awards’ assemblies, concerts, movie night, these are ways to get parents and students involved with the school so that all stakeholders are able to recognize the people involved in the student’s daily lives. With extended days and after-school programs, students spend the majority of their time at school. Getting to know the people that students see more than their parents, is a vital part of collaborating to promote good learning standards.
Standard Five: No matter how good the teacher, there may be times that a student will feel that they have been treated unfairly. For the parent who is not involved in their son’s or daughter’s school, and does not know their teacher, it may be easy to believe that the teacher is in the wrong. Yet, for the involved parent who knows the type of person their child’s teacher is, parents will be able to get to the core of any problems that may be occurring at school. This can only be achieved when parents attend parent-teacher conferences, come to school for report card pickup, and be available for calls. Parents should also initiate contact and keep the element of surprise, keeping their child on their toes. For the student who never knows when their parent may show up at school, it will be harder to misbehave and not stay on task.
Standard Six: Parents should consider their child’s teacher as a resource and tap into that resource for help. In low income areas, school staff is vital in helping parents get public transportation passes to get to and from school, have resources for housing, and options for after-school programs to keep students busy and away from potential gang and other criminal activity. For parents with special needs children, the school is a wealth of assistance to help children learn on their level, and get additional learning assistance if required. On the opposite side, involved parents are effective vehicles in advocating and getting additional resources that their child, or even neighborhood school needs.
This activity provided an insight into how parents view change to their child’s educational structure. Attempting to convey this much detailed information into a 60 minute presentation was not an easy task, and there were many questions asked for clarity. Even for teachers, changes in standards can be problematic as their teaching styles must adapt to include the standards. For parents, without formal teaching training, trying to grasp the concepts is problematic. It would be better to present this information in stages, or at least have a dedicated representative available to discuss any concerns parents may have.