Welcome to the EduVerse with ProfessorJBA. This series is aimed at parents and caregivers in an effort to inform them about the various roles and aspects of the educational landscape to ensure that caregivers can make informed decisions.
Parenting is such a critical aspect of life. The way in which we engage parents and families in public schools is critical to the success of children. Parents are our students’ first teachers. They have the first influence on how students experience learning, live life, engage in play, process events, and interact with others.
The media and education analysts are constantly asking, “Where are the parents?” They should be asking where is the effective engagement of parents and families from school districts!?!
Most would agree that parents are major influences in families, the community, and at times, grabs the attention of the media. The role of parents and adults raising school aged children is critical. Parent and family engagement is a nationwide dilemma, causing us to ask why more parents aren’t actively present and engaged in schools.
The overarching concern and challenge has been the way in which we’re reaching the masses of parents who care for the children being suspended, expelled, labeled as failing, being pushed into special education or remedial programs and ultimately being failed in schools.
I would like to challenge educational leaders, advocates, and stakeholders to consider the ways that parents are connecting to the academic success of their students and how can we empower them where they are to help build more effective successful pathways for all students.
Ways to Drive Engagement
1. Helping register children for school
2. Getting children to school through safe routes and reliable transportation
3. Collaborating on community events
4. Creating vVolunteering programs that connect to academics, social, and emotional development
These areas may seem small for those who don’t struggle with shelter and homelessness, economic challenges but getting your child(ren) to school safely is one a high concern of parents, especially for those parents who battle extreme circumstances affecting livelihood, safety, and security of their family.
School districts can and should be more intentional about engaging and empowering parents.
It’s not as hard as it seems. School boards and school district leaders have to start by listening to parents voices. They must listen to the experiences and concerns of parents and go beyond creating a quick fix. Quick fixes are a detour to true engagement. Supporting parents and families PreK-12 begins with providing communication in a timely manner. Most parents will agree that engagement doesn’t stand a chance when you aren’t effectively communicating.
If we want parents and families engaged, school districts should invest in providing transportation for all school and district events and providing child care for young children who can’t stay alone at home during these events.
Parent engagement cannot be a cookie cutter program transfered from school to school. The engagement must be rooted in the needs of students and their families.