As school budgets are cut, class sizes increase and societal stresses compound behavior problems in the classroom, parental involvement can be a major help or a major hindrance to the educational process.
Extra hands or too many cooks in the kitchen?
Parents who come to their child’s classroom to help out can provide an extra pair of hands and eyes for already overworked teachers. Parents can help ensure playground and hallway safety At the same time, too many adults in the classroom can interfere with normal procedures and detract from learning.
Help with preparation or interference?
Many teachers are grateful for the assistance of parents, especially when it comes to preparing for specific activities. Parents can be shown how to operate an Ellison machine, make copies of worksheets or help prepare bulletin board displays. Some parents, however, will interfere with teacher’s efforts by insisting that they “know better” and pressuring the teacher to do things their way.
Skilled versus unskilled help
Teachers go to college to become skilled at a variety of subjects related to teaching and classroom management. Coursework includes learning styles, assessment methods, child development and motivational techniques. Parents who want to help often do not have any of this training. If parents are willing to help out where they are needed, they can be a big help to classroom teachers. If parents insist on doing things differently, they can bring conflict and confusion to the classroom.
Setting an example
Each of is a unique individual, with a variety of cultural, social and intellectual beliefs. Parents can provide a positive role model to students by demonstrating good manners, self control and delayed gratification. On the other hand, parents who come to the classroom with bad habits, poor social skills and inadequate hygiene can be detrimental.
While most parents who want to be involved at their child’s school mean well, there are confidentiality issues that may become a problem. Whether grading papers or monitoring the lunch room, parent volunteers must understand the privacy requirements for information garnered about various students.
Awareness versus meddling
Parents who are more involved with their child’s school may become aware of specific needs and problems being faced by the school and might be able to spread the word and boost further support. At the other end of the same spectrum, parents can become meddlesome in school policies, classroom routines and when working with individual students.
Support or suffocation?
Often, it is the parents who are already highly involved with their child’s education who want to be more involved with the school. While these parents bring added knowledge and experience about their own child, they may not necessarily have the skills or temperament needed to work productively with students in a classroom environment. Some parents provide valuable support to a wide range of students, while other parents’ actions may suffocate their own child’s efforts or those of an inexperienced teacher.
It is important to balance the pros and cons of parental involvement in schools on an individual basis. By being more involved in their child’s school, parents can provide valuable contributions to the educational process.