Notes from the field….Never underestimate the power of parental involvement
Parents/Guardians, never underestimate the impact of your involvement. As we drove on the grounds of the farm, I saw kids excited and running around with joy on their faces as their parents gear up for what seemed to be a daunting task; walking around all day (8:30-2:30) on 50 acres of farmland. There were activities planned across the farm to captivate the attention of the young learners. But what I found even more intriguing than watching the youngsters learn was the inadvertent learning that the children were undergoing with their parents by their side. We, my wife and I, were there for the exact same reasons the other parents were there; 1.) to support the classroom community, 2.) to support our young learner, and 3.) to engage. Needless to say, these simple, yet very much time consuming and conscience things will have a long lasting impact on your youngster.
Supporting the classroom and the teacher.
Classrooms are in dire need of the support you provide. Teachers are wearing more hats than ever before because the pandemic has exacerbated and highlighted the many social emotional and academic challenges in the classroom. The teacher needs your support in meeting both your child’s needs and those of other children. There was a time I used to hear older generations talk about this often. They would say that it didn’t matter whose child you were, everybody in the community looked out for you and disciplined you if needed. Today, we call it our village. Because of the rigorous academic standards set forth, teachers need your support, the village, to ensure that all students succeed. What ever the need is, as a parent/guardian, teachers are counting on your (the village) support to help meet it; especially for your child. Being engaged in the classroom sends a message that education is important. It communicates that this is the expectation. And, to children, it confirms the notion that I’m going to be with you to support you on this journey.
Supporting our young learners.
Children need support as they learn in the classroom. As parents/guardians, we are the very first teachers our children experience and know. When they go to school, our role as teacher does not stop. When children are experiencing new learning or problems, it is our responsibility to assist in the effort to scaffold them. This does not mean releasing them from struggle, yet ask questions and make statements that will lead them to discovery. Why? It is because there is amazing growth happening in productive struggle. This is essential in our effort to support our most impressionable beings. Learning should be a place of discovery. And we should always create environments and spaces the promote discovery in our effort to support them.
Research tells us that parental involvement is the most accurate predictor to how well a student will perform in school (Durisic & Bunijevac, 2017). It’s true. The degree of your involvement most likely determines how well your child will do. This is the main reason why we must get involved and stay involved. Engaging shows that you care. Engaging communicates your concern. Engaging speaks to your commitment. Engaging in the educational journey places you at the forefront of the effort to ensure that all students get a quality education. Engaging speaks to our collective accountability.
While on the trip, I noticed how super excited my daughter was to have me there with her. I saw her eyes light up when I engaged in the learning and in play. I heard some of the conversations she had with her classmates about how happy she was having her parents with her all day because it makes it “so much funner.” Even during the moments when she became uninterested in a presentation, she looked to me for the encouragement to keep at it. As parents/guardians, we have the power to change their trajectory and perspective just by being present and being involved. More learning happens than you can imagine through your involvement. You are teaching life lessons unaware. So I leave you with this… Go on that field trip. Go to the teacher parent meetings. Participate in the PTO/PTA/HSA. Get involved in the school community. Understand that your voice and your presence matters. Your child is watching and learning valuable lessons that will translate well into many areas as they grow and learn. Know that your involvement has power. Don’t doubt it. Never underestimate it.
Durisic, M., & Bunijevac, M. (2017). Parental Involvement as a Important Factor for Successful EducationMasa. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 7(3), 137–153. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.26529/cepsj.7.3