As a teacher and a parent I know both sides of parental involvement in school. I understand the need to be an active part of the school community and see the difference it makes. My daughter knows that her education is important because we talk about it. Being involved doesn’t mean that you have to go to meetings at the school instead of spending time with the family. It is your child’s education, attend the meetings with them and then stop for ice cream on the way home and talk about what happened at the meeting and what it means for your family. You don’t have to attend every meeting that comes along, and you shouldn’t attend every meeting that is offered. Communicate with your family about which ones you will attend or not attend and why. Sometimes, sharing your view points about why you are choosing not to attend are as relevant as your presence at an event. I feel bad because there are events that I am not able to get to because they are during the school day and I do not have the ability to leave my classroom to watch field day or chaperon a field trip. I talk with my 6 year old about this, sometimes her father or step father are able to attend, or one of her grandparents or aunts or uncles attend. There are also times when no one can go, but she understands that it doesn’t mean we don’t find it important, or don’t want to be there with her, but there are times when we just are not able to do it.
As a teacher, most of my students come from homes where English is either a second language or not spoken in the home. It becomes intimidating for parents to try to communicate if they truly don’t understand. I have learned that my attempts at speaking Spanish, very poorly I may ad, alleviate a lot of this fear and has brought more parents into my classroom, because they see that I value them. I encourage parents to talk about what the students are doing in school, and sometimes that is the homework, telling three people outside of school what it was that we learned today, and then bring back a question or comment that someone had when you were talking about it. This helps me as the teacher to understand what I can do to help make the educational experience more productive for the student and the person who is at home that loves and cares for them.
Even if you can’t be there in person, you can be there in spirit. Take a minute to talk with your children about what is going on in their educational life. The parent my be the first teacher, but some students spend more time with their classroom teachers than they do with their parents. Make every moment count, instead of playing video games, go outside, take a walk or play catch and ask, “So, what did you do in school today?”