Type 1 Parent Involvement: Basic Responsibilities of Families
The most basic involvement of parents is their continuous responsibility for raising their children and providing them with food, clothing, shelter, health, and safety. The National Education Goals for Year 2000 indicate that "all children in America will start school ready to learn" (Children's Defense Fund, 2000, p. 63). What does "ready to learn" mean? It goes beyond teaching children across the nation their basic ABCs and numbers. It means parents should form the foundation for their children's success in school by providing and maintaining a positive home environment that is conducive to learning and the development of physical, intellectual, social, and emotional skills and values. This is a continuous process of teaching and guiding children throughout their school years and helping them build self-confidence and self-esteem (Gonzalez-Mena, 1998; National PTA, 2000).
Parents vary in their experiences and parenting skills. Thus, schools will have to take an active role in assisting parents with parenting and childrearing skills, helping in understanding child and adolescent development, and providing ideas for creating a home environment that supports children's learning at each age and grade. Research indicates that families want to learn and receive ongoing information on how to help their children succeed and excel in school. Concurrently, teachers and administrators need the families to assist schools in becoming better informed about their children and families. Information about children and family backgrounds, cultures, needs, interests, goals, and expectations can be provided by families. Therefore, Type 1 involvement consists of a combination of information for parents and from parents about children and families (Epstein, 2001).
Sample Activities That Support and Assist Parents in Parenting and Child-Rearing Practices
- Provide ongoing information to all parents in a variety of ways:
- workshop, parent education, and grade-level meetings
- newsletters and pamphlets
- videos and audiotapes
- school websites and email
- computerized phone messages
- Establish a parent resource room—a family-friendly center where parents can come together and discuss parenting issues and check out resources and materials.
- Organize a family support program—encourage parents to organize a parent-led support group where families can connect and share their experiences and their knowledge with each other.
- Provide home-visit opportunities for teachers to learn and to become more aware of the families, as well as for the families to understand school expectations.
- Provide information on community services, such as free immunizations and clinics, services offered by social services, community parent education, parent-child community activities, and religious services. (Epstein, 2001; National PTA, 2000)
Tips on Successful Planning and Implementation of Parenting Activities
- Relevance and meaningfulness of topics. It is critical that topics selected are relevant and meaningful for parents regarding the age or grade level of their children. An ongoing survey of needs and wants from parents is highly recommended throughout the year. The survey allows the parents to be a part of the decision-making process when their topics of interest are selected and presented.
- Disseminate information to all families. Information should be distributed to all parents regardless of whether they are able to attend workshops or parent meetings. Workshops should not be limited to school premises; instead, the content of topics discussed can be viewed, heard, or read at times and locations that are convenient for the families (Epstein, 2001). For example, the workshops can be videotaped or audiotaped, allowing families to receive the information at their convenience. Workshops can be summarized and put in a variety of forms, such as newsletters, school websites, or computerized phone messages. Parents can read them at home, in the school's parent room, or public library. Allow parents who were unable to attend meetings or workshops to discuss them online with other parents and speakers.
- Provide sufficient notice to parents. Workshops or meetings that require parents to come together at the same time and place need sufficient notice. Such notice should include location, date, and time of the meeting, a brief description of the topic, and name of the presenter of the workshop.
- Location should vary. Workshops may be offered at the school building as well as other locations in the community that represent families' neighborhoods.
- Time schedules. Workshop information should be made available at various times rather than one scheduled time. Additionally, families have other obligations; therefore a conscious effort to start and end on time is critical.
- Concise, clear, easy to understand information. Ongoing verbal and written information on parenting should be concise and clear and should use plain language that is free from educational jargon. Translation of information is needed for families whose first language is not English. (Epstein, 2001; National PTA, 2000)
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