The Big Girl Chronicles: Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan
Your child’s formative years have two components that are crucial to the person (s)he will become, what kind of citizen (s)he will be and the kind of life (s)he will create. Those two components are education and home life. A productive relationship between the two increases likelihood for success and further increases the child’s potential to learn. Many times public schools get a poor score as we learn of outdated or inadequate text, ineffective classroom instruction, understaffing, unbalanced teacher-student ratio, lack of parental involvement/support and other hindrances. If you are a parent facing a school system that is struggling to meet the needs of your child, there are some things you can do to help.
Getting involved in your child’s education begins in the home. Simple things like asking about the curriculum for the day and following up on homework assignments communicates to your child that you are paying attention and are interested in his or her education. Seeking opportunities in the home to reinforce the curriculum also helps your child make the connection between what (s)he learned in the classroom and how it can be applied in the real world. The shared interests could also encourage your child to pay more attention in school anticipating the time the two of you will spend in the home discussing and reviewing the material. Take things a step further and plan educational excursions on those long Saturdays or weekends to emphasize the lesson for the week. Consider a trip to the library and review magazines and other reading material that compliment what’s been taught. Do a web search to find out how the topic can be applied in other parts of the world. Small details like these could also help you uncover your child’s interests and begin focus on narrowing down a chosen career.
Parental involvement doesn’t stop there. You also have a responsibility to represent your child in the school system. If you haven’t been taking advantage of things like parent-teacher conferences and the PTA/PTO, those are two ideal places to start. A school without a PTA/PTO could benefit from you and other concerned parents taking time to organize one. And although requiring dues is ideal to assist with projects that could help with improvements, keep in mind that many students of some poorly performing public schools have single parents who are either unemployed or underemployed and cannot tack on additional expenses. Your focus is on recruiting parents to open lines of communication between you and the school system, and becoming actively involved in improving education. Take time to jot down ideas of how you think the school could make improvements. If your school has ranked low among the state, suggest things like shadowing what would be considered an ideal school to model after. Or forming a student government organization even in elementary schools to help those students learn that they are the key components to their school’s success. Ask the teacher to share weekly/monthly lesson plans and curriculum to make certain you have time to prepare your plan for reinforcing material at home. Invite speakers to come and discuss the importance of education. Introduce new ideas such as interactive education or a merit system. For instance, when children are learning about nutrition and health, allow them to help plan healthy cafeteria lunches for a week or month or predetermined amount of time that reflect what they’ve learned and put knowledge into action. Don’t forget to send notes alerting other parents so they can plan to follow through in the home. Each effort that is made to support parental involvement and children’s accomplishments should reflect in the child’s desire to learn, thus motivating them to do better on standardized tests and essentially bringing the school system’s status up to par as a whole.
Once you have become oriented to how the school system works, you can take your efforts to help make improvements further. Advocate for updates needed to enhance children’s learning by attending open school board meetings and making helpful suggestions, researching educational grants online that pertain to what you hope to achieve in your child’s school and collaborating with other supportive organizations to discuss fundraising and development. Things that could make a difference include projects other schools have gained national attention initiating, such as peer mentoring, switching from textbooks to eReaders and introducing creative modes of teaching in addition to standard classroom instruction. Expand support to include social and community organizations that include community service and improvement efforts as part of their agenda. Ask for assistance in tutoring and mentoring children that have parents who aren’t available to contribute to their child’s learning and education.
Assisting with your child’s education is just one of the many duties of full-time parenting. The efforts you make are not in vain. What you contribute will make a lasting impression on your child and follow him or her into adulthood. For more ideas on how you can become more actively involved, visit parents4publicschools.org . To get current information about the education system visit ed.gov.