Let’s Blame the Parents
The evidence is very clear. The major variable that predicts a child’s success in school is parent involvement and support. Parent involvement beats socio economic status, parent education level and single vs. 2-parent homes. So now if those pesky parents would just do what they need to do, most assuredly test scores will go up. So why don’t they?
The main reason is probably because many parents don’t know what we as educators really need them to do. Remember that old advice we gave to young children, “to have a friend you need to be a friend”. Problem was most kids without friends didn’t know HOW to be a friend, which probably explained why they didn’t have any.
Back to parents. First of all, parents need to present a united front with the school. It needs to be clear to children that both teachers and parents want children to succeed in school. It is also easy for kids to figure out that they can pit parents and teachers against each other. Parents need to resist that. If parents have an issue with what a teacher is doing, that issue needs to be strictly between educators and parents. From the child’s point-of-view, the school team and the home team are one. Sort of like not allowing kids to attempt splitting between parents.
Secondly, school needs to be seen as a value. That means school is NOT a place where kids go when families need babysitting or when there isn’t a nice vacation set up. School needs to be seen as the first priority for the child. School is the child’s job. Children should not miss school for any reason that would not be a good reason for a parent to miss work. Most states have clear reasons that are acceptable for an excused absence. School is serious business and parents need to act as if it is.
Good educators make a difference in a child's life. But they aren't going to make the child into something he or she is not. And it is not fair for parents to expect that a child with limited ability in any area is going to become exceptional in that area, if only the child had the the right teacher.
School requirements need to be part of a family’s schedule. That means homework is done at a particular time and a particular place. School forms need to be completed and returned to school. School is important and our behaviors need to show that.
In today’s economy, it is unrealistic to expect parents to have lots of time to volunteer at school during the school day. But parents can attend evening meetings and provide input via email and notes to the school.
As educators we need to educate parents on what they can do to help their child succeed, not just blame the parents for not doing enough. Having said that, teachers aren’t off the hook either. Next week let’s blame the teachers.