How Much Should Parents Be Involved in Their Children's Education?
Amie Diprima BrownRome, GAWith all of the talk about guns in schools, why it’s happening, and how to solve the issue let me offer a little different perspective. I’ve been teaching since 2003. This marks my 15th year in the classroom. Everybody always talks about how schools have changed, and it’s true, they have. Yes, there’s the “crazy new math” and “bring your own device” changes. However, there are some other changes that I think the general population is not aware of.
Every year for 15 years I have sent home the same assignment on the first day of school. I send a letter home asking parents to tell me about their child in a million words or less. I go on to explain that I want to learn the child’s hopes, dreams, fears, challenges, etc and jokingly ask parents to limit it to less than a million words since we all know we could talk forever about our children. I go on to say I’m not grading these, not looking at handwriting or grammar and don’t care if they send them back with their child, email them, drop them off at the office, etc. These letters have been so beneficial to me as a teacher and getting to know my students on a personal level. I have learned about eating disorders, seizures, jealousy issues between twins, depression, adoption, abuse...just to name a few things. These letters give me a huge head start on getting to truly know my students. I often pull them out when a child has a sudden change in behavior or issue that comes up. Just this week I had 2 students lose their mother unexpectedly. Brother and sister, I taught one last year and one this year. As I have done before, i immediately went to my folders to pull the letters that mom sent for her children. It’s a beautiful gift that I feel I can give students to get a glimpse into how much a parent loved and adored them. As I was putting the folders back in the file cabinet I noticed something. I know that the percentage of parents that complete this assignment each year has gotten lower and lower, but looking at the size of the folders shocked me. That first year I had 98% of the parents send back some type of letter on their child. This year... 22%. That’s a lot of opportunities lost for me to get to know students. Sadly, more parents have access to an electronic device that makes this task even easier and less time consuming.
On another note, this year’s average for homework turned in is riding at 67%. I’m talking a twice monthly 5 sentence summary of what the student is reading in their own time. I remind students daily, I send text messages through Remind, it’s on my website. The only other thing I could do is do it for them. Parents continue to let their child rack up zero after zero. But then again, that average used to be around 98% as well. It was rare for more than 1-2 students to not have their homework 15 years ago. Now, it’s just frustrating.
With all of our other responsibilities in our profession, how are we supposed to get to know students so that we can identify the ones with the mentality and disposition to become a school shooter if parents are checking out of the academic process? How are we supposed to educate children when their parents don’t require, expect and demand their child complete their homework?
Don’t wait until your child is the school shooter to let us know your child is struggling mentally. Don’t wait until your child is ineligible for sports or the day before report cards to check grades and question the teacher on why your child is failing.
Be a parent. Be involved in your child’s life so that you can help them through the issues with friends, the possible suicidal thoughts, and problems academically. I promise you, if parents spent more time with their children and got involved in their lives, we would see drastic improvements in our schools and our society.
As parents, our job is to grow the most amazing humans possible. Its the most important job in the world. The education and emotional stability a parent provides is priceless.