Benefits to Teachers and Caregivers
When teachers and caregivers make the effort necessary to involve families and community members, they benefit in many important ways:
- The involved adults have a greater appreciation of the challenges of working with young children in group settings.
- Families and community members come to value and respect teachers’ efforts and are more likely to speak positively with others about early education (Gestwicki, 2007).
- With added assistance, teachers can also do a better job in their teaching (Berger, 2004). While a parent or community member is busy with a small-group art project, for example, the teacher is freed up to work with other children in the classroom.
- Bringing in other adults with unique talents and abilities also adds to the excitement of the classroom and often leaves teachers feeling more satisfied with their work (Gestwicki, 2007).
- As teachers work to involve parents and community members, their relationships with children also tend to improve. With more time for each child, increased understanding, and a more exciting curriculum, children respond more positively to teachers.
Benefits to Parents and Families
The difficult task of parenting is often a struggle for many adults. When parents are involved in the schools, they find opportunities for support that make this task a little more manageable (Powell, 1998). Just knowing that other parents are struggling with the same issues is reassuring to many. Talking through parenting challenges with others gives parents new ideas and renewed motivation to manage their struggles with children.
Conversations with teachers and opportunities to see them deal with similar issues in the classroom also provide parents with good options to try with their children at home (Gestwicki, 2007). Parents who get involved also gain new insights into their own children’s lives in a different setting. All of this tends to strengthen their self-esteem and hone parenting skills. The Head Start program has many examples of parents who have gotten involved in school activities and gone on to improve their lives in a variety of ways (Administration for Children and Families, 2006).
Complex family situations often make it difficult for families to get involved during the classroom day. But getting them to participate in school-related activities in the home setting can be encouraged successfully in many circumstances.
Benefits to Children
When parents, community members, and teachers work together, children’s lives are improved. Children who see a variety of concerned adults working to help them improve their school performance respond positively, leading to increased achievement (Olsen & Fuller, 2003). This involvement makes it clear to children that schooling is important; as a result, their motivation to succeed is strengthened. Just as with parents, children also tend to have improved self-concepts when parents, community members, and teachers combine efforts on their behalf. It feels good to know so many important people care. Participation also benefits children by providing an enriched classroom environment (Gestwicki, 2007). When parents get involved in the classroom, more hands-on activities (which simply could not be managed without additional help) become possible. A trip to a local grocery store, for example, to learn about an important community business would not be possible without parents and others to assist along the way.
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