Being a youth mentor I appreciate the parents who are involved in their child’s development. They trust me with their daughters and are very attentive when it comes to their child being empowered and inspired. On the flip side, some of those parents are not as involved with building relationships with teachers or being involved in school Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTA). The PTA (or PTSA) is an official organization composed of parents, teachers and staff that is intended to facilitate parental participation in a school. As we enter into the upcoming school year, I wanted to do an open call asking teachers how involved parents were in the student’s academic career and ask parents if they were involved in their student’s academic career, including why or why not. I prefaced the fact that they were sharing their answers in a NO JUDGEMENT ZONE. My intent was not to judge right or wrong, but to open a dialogue to facilitate building better relationships between teachers, parents and students.
Below are a few of those responses:
“As a high school math teacher, about 10% on average of my students' parents get actively involved in their kids' educations. I would welcome more involvement for the sake of the child and the child's education. All parents have the ability to show more interest in their children’s education. They may not be able to assist them in the work, but they should be encouraging that work to be done on time so that the child doesn't fall behind. If the child is struggling, the parents have the means to find out why or to talk to the teacher. Simply having no interest in your child's education shows your children that their grades are not important; that their success is not important; that their future is not important. Most parents want the best for their children. Very few care enough to monitor their educational progress to follow through with assistance if things are not going smoothly or to reward and praise when things are going smoothly.”
“I am not as involved in my child’s school as I could be. I admit that. I am concerned about working and making sure they have a roof over their heads. I can sacrifice more often and go to a PTA meeting or at least check in with the teacher or show my face. This year, I plan to do better. I owe that to my child.”
“As a child of a teacher parent, I was blessed with knowing that my parents were aware of my capabilities and made sure that I was on target to achieve them. If I was not on the right path to achieve excellence, they would find another way to correct my path and improve my prospects.”
“I was involved in my child’s academic process more when he was in pre-school through elementary school. When he got into middle and now high school, I slacked up on coming to awards shows, visiting his classroom, etc. His grades were As and Bs so I didn’t feel a need to be as involved. This past semester however he did make a D in a class so I emailed his teacher and NEVER got a response. After months of trying, I finally got in touch with the guidance counselor to for my son to get help in that class.”
"As a teacher, I would love for more parents to be involved. It seems as though they just don't have the time to devote to one on one relationships with academic officials. I will continue to reach out to my parents in hopes that they begin to see the value in being involved."
“I don’t feel adequate enough to ask questions or go to PTA meetings. Somethings I don’t understand and don’t want to feel embarrassed.”
“I am very involved in my kids' academic careers. One is in the gifted program where the other one is in public school but doing very well. I had to recognize how my boys were wired to learn and make the adjustments that would allow them to develop based on their learning abilities. One is a go getter and the other one has to be encouraged and pushed little more. I've made their success a personal goal of mine as a parent. I do reinforce the lesson plan with additional practice when school is not in session. I salute our educators but I do not rely solely on them to educate my children. With 20-25 students in a class, everyone cannot get the individualized attention they need. This makes it my business to partner with the teachers to make sure my sons get the quality education they need. This is accomplished with the parent/teacher communication, tutoring if needed and extra home practice. I also do unannounced drop-ins. Lastly, I am an active participant of the PTA.”
I also had the opportunity to virtually chat with an Educator in the Cumberland County, NC area. Phyllis G. Williams, a special education teacher and certified school psychologist for DODEA in the Fort Bragg School system, believes that “it is vital for parents to be involved in their child’s education progress.” She goes on to say that “this gives the child or children goals to reach and stresses the importance of education at an early age. This assists in reducing the drop-out rate in high school and also promotes life-long learners.”
Continue reading below for more of our online interview.
In your experience, what percentage of parents are hands on such as requesting teacher meetings, being at PTAs, working together with teachers to better assist their child student? Sadly, my experience witnessing parent involvement is very low. The fact that I work at a military school may contribute to lack of parent-involvement. If I was to give an estimate, I would say five percent are actively involved.
In your opinion, do you believe that school education is alone enough? Do you believe parents also should have a responsibility in reinforcing their child's learning? I don’t feel that school education enough is alone. I think parents are an important factor in success at school. This includes morals and determination towards tasks. As an African-American, I don’t feel that schools emphasize our culture enough. Parents should reinforce this at school. Parents should also reinforce their child’s learning through homework or just simply ask them for an update.
How important are after school programs to a child's academic development? I had the privilege to participate in an after school program two years ago. One student that I assisted improved drastically in math. She went from a D to B student. I think that some student’s require extra assistance that can only be given after school. They also have after school programs outside of academics such as yearbook, post office, and even second languages. Many after school programs are being cut for lack of funding.
For the upcoming school year, what are the top 3 improvements you'd like to see take place to improve parent/teacher relationships?
1. Teachers have to communicate with parents more to improve parent teacher relationships. Many schools are requiring that teachers utilize weekly newsletters or websites so parents can be informed of events in the classroom.
2 Parents have to be proactive. This includes mastering the basics. Did you read the Parent Handbook for the year? Have you ever been to the school’s website? I question what percentage of parents actually does this because many of their questions can be answered through the handbook.
3. We have to understand each other. We both have a difficult job but at the end of the day, teachers want the best for their students just like parents want the best for the children. This is a three part relationship that includes the teacher, parent, and child. Responsibility fluctuates based on the child’s age.
What advice would you give to parents about the importance of being involved with not only the child's academic progression but also being involved in their child's school as a whole? Administration and teachers are more willing to accommodate those parents who are on the fore-front. It doesn’t require weekly visits but it can include simply having lunch with your child once a quarter. This also gives you insight on the organization of the school, who does your child interact with at school, and builds a closer bond between the two of you.
What are any last words, motivation or encouragement you'd like to share? My motto is disabilities don’t define and disadvantages don’t disable. All parents are their child’s first teacher and hero so do the best that you can so you can feel confident in them being productive adults.
Ms. Williams is also hosting a FREE event to equip and empower parents for the upcoming school year. The speakers will give short speeches followed by a question and answer session. The event is on Saturday, August 8th at the Hope Mills Public Library in Hope Mills, NC. The Parent Toolbox event is a great resource to ask questions, share your voice and build a network to that will ultimately benefit your child’s academic career!
Until next time, remember to CREATE each day INTENTIONALLY GOOD and Be Beautifully Inspired!