How to Effectively Communicate with Your Child’s School
Recent literature suggests that parents become involved with their children’s education for three primary reasons: 1) their personal understanding of the parental role; 2) their personal sense of responsibility for the academic success of their children; and 3) their perception that children and the school provide parents both opportunities and demands for interaction Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler state that for good school-parent relationships to occur certain events need to happen.
The social construction of parental roles, means that parents and the group most pertinent to children’s education, the school, should work together to define parents’ roles…teachers should be enabled…to spend at least a portion of the work week interacting with parents. Some of this time might be well spent creating a feasible, mutually constructed set of expectations for the parent’s role in relation to the child’s schooling: some of it might be similarly well spent in devising specific ways for parents to offer limited but academically useful help to their children…
However, the same authors are careful to point out that, …(w)hile the literature suggests strongly that parental involvement in general has positive effects on children’s educational outcomes, it is important to note that parental involvement may also have no consequences or even negative consequences for some children. For example…if parental involvement is either developmentally inappropriate…or constitutes a poor fit with school expectations for involvement…(then) children, parents, and teachers may experience negative outcomes.
It appears that if parents are to be actively involved in helping schools work with their children they must be encouraged to understand the relevance and importance of their contributions. Most teachers have long recognized the value of the contributions that parents can make. Past experience relates that parents are much more effective helpers if they are viewed as people who can contribute more than in just a mundane fashion, for example, serving only as chaperons or room-mothers, and without regard to the “learning” experience itself. Involvement means much more, but parents often wonder how they can ‘best’ help. Teachers generally welcome parents who want to be a part of their child’s learning, as long as what they do, or request, is congruent with overall classroom decorum or best educational practice. The key that unlocks the door to parent and teacher team teaching is personal communication, with an emphasis on the personal part. The following steps will enhance that communication.
Reprinted with the permission of the Center for Effective Parenting. © 1998-2004 The Center for Effective Parenting. All Rights Reserved.
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