Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Parental Involvement in Children's Education

I was able to read an article in my McKay Today Magazine called "Parent Involvement:  The Beginning Defines the Future" by Bryan Korth.  I was pleased to see the article and all the ways parents can be involved in their kids' education, both at home and at school.  The ways Korth mentions:

1.  Parents assisting teachers by preparing materials or filing paperwork.
2.  "Classroom parents" who organize classroom events.
3.  Parents who actually instruct in the classroom.
4.  Communication between parent and teacher.
5.  Being engaged in homework.
6.   Parental support to develop strong bonds with the child.
7.  Regulation:  appropriate expectations and structure regarding a child's behavior.
8.  Acknowledgment of the child's independent self, whereby parents avoid intruding, exploiting, or manipulating the child.

Like I said, I was pleased to see the article, but I was also kind of disappointed in the content.  For one thing, I was looking for some new ways to be more involved, but as I read, I pretty much feel like we're doing every single one of those things already.  I suppose the only way we could be more involved is to home-school our kids, and I'm just not going there.  I felt good when I realized I help with homework books for my kindergartner's class; and I felt good that although I'm not really participating in classroom events, I am participating in the PTA (but don't get me started on that one today.  I just added up my hours for the last 3 weeks and I'm looking at 20+; and I still have 2 events next week before I record my monthly hours!!!  I'm good for 5-15 hours/month, but this is getting ridiculous.  I oversee 12 events this year.).  I also felt good that next month I will begin instructing my 3rd grader's class on art for the next 3 months.  I'm no art expert, but no one had signed up for the assignment, and I used to be kind of good at art.

Another thing I was disappointed in was (oh how do I say this without being too offensive) the acknowledgement that most parents don't actually have the time to help out at the school, but if they're involved in other ways with their kids, then that's great.  Now that's fine, but I'm feeling a little burdened here putting in so many hours at/for the school.  I guess I just need some validation that these big school activities (book fair, carnival, reading activities, etc.) are actually worth helping out with, or I kind of just want to stop.  I'm feeling like the work to carry out the activities is in no way balanced with what my kids personally get out of them.  It seems like the activities are great and all, but there seem to be too few of us left/willing to be able to carry them out.  The reason I've done PTA/school activities is that more people want to be in the class with their kids, and fewer want to help the PTA/school, so I thought I'd help where the help was needed most.  Maybe I'm just being too nice by helping out the PTA/school and should be more selfish and get more into my kids' classes.

Anyway, it seems like there was one more thing, but I can't remember it now.  If you've had experience with PTA/school activities, what do you believe is their purpose?  Are the activities really valuable, or does classroom involvement outweigh the school functions?  Are we holding these big activities just to show how awesome we are, or could we do without them and focus more on the classroom?


Rebecca said...

I think those bigger activities serve different purposes. I know that my favorite ones are the parent/child activities....mother/son, father/daughter one year and then switched the following year. When I help at those, I see these children getting to spend time with that one parent. It is a special night for them and all the hours of work go into creating the experience for each child that comes that otherwise would probably not have gotten that time with their mom or dad.
I agree about the frustration of there being fewer and fewer parents available to volunteer. I REALLY believe in the influence that parent involvement can have in a child's education...but so many moms I know are going to work (mostly by choice) and that simply leaves more burden on the shoulders of the few SAHM's still around!

Emily said...

Hi! Nice to meet you Rebecca. Thanks for commenting! What's really interesting to me, too, though (something I've learned this year when trying to find volunteers), is I bet about half the people volunteering DO work. I was shocked!!! I thought it would be the SAHMs holding it down, but I guess it's just a priority thing. The trick is, that yes, the ones who work are volunteering, but they are also more limited in what they can do. Have you noticed that at all?

Emily said...

I'm totally impressed with the ones who change their work schedules so they can help out. I think it's really cool (of course, not everyone can do that...).

Amanda said...

My mom wasn't involved in school activities. As a result, we didn't go to events and activities much either. I don't know what I was missing and it doesn't bother me. We spent A LOT of time together as a family doing all kinds of things together. School was just the place we went to for our formal education and after school is when we lived. I wouldn't trade that for anything. So, it's just a matter of how you want to spend time enriching your children's lives; whether through school or home activities -as long as your with them in a positive environment is what matters.

TJ said...

interesting question. i choose, for the time being, to be more involved in my kids classrooms. mostly because of my son. he is on a 504 plan, and i want to have good communication with the teacher, as well as being able to watch him in the classroom and with the other kids. my daughter just loves me coming to her class, so i continue to do that. i have tried to help when i can with the larger activities, but the meetings for our booster club are at an inconvenient time, and sometimes our schedule just doesn't allow for it. i'm sure my lack of commitment also stems from the fact that i've known since we got here that we would move in a few years (we're army) so while i do my best, i don't want to invest too much of my time and efforts into something that i'm not in for the long haul. i will try and make an effort though, in our next location. gave me some good things to think about.